I prefer to drive a car with a manual transmission. Shifting my own gears makes me feel one with my car and the road, and makes even routine trips a lot more fun.
I’m no fanatic; I don’t hate automatics. But for top driving pleasure, I’ve got to have a stick. I’ve had three manually shifted cars: an underpowered Renault, a dented Chevrolet, and a look-at-me red Toyota. These cars stir more good memories and star in more great stories than any of the automatics I’ve owned.
If I hadn’t found myself suddenly carless after wrecking my last car, I would have taken the time to find one with a manual transmission this time, too.
You see, it isn’t easy to find cars with clutches anymore. Most of those available are bare-bones entry-level models, so spare that nobody wants them. Just try to find a manually shifted car with a V6 or a V8, leather, power seats, dual-zone climate control, and a navigation system. Unless you’re willing to drop serious coin on something made in Munich or Stuttgart, you can’t. My brother, a fellow stickshift aficionado, spent weeks last year trying to find a decently optioned five-speed Honda Civic. A Civic! He managed it, but it was touch and go.
It’s a sorry state the driving world finds itself in, and Car and Driver magazine has decided to do something about it. They have launched a crusade called Save the Manuals, dedicated to putting more manual transmissions on the road. I hope you’ll join it. I hope lots of people join it, and automakers take notice! For one day I will want to trade in my automatic, and I will want to drive away rowing through my new car’s gears.