August 11, 2022

"When manual transmissions were the norm... shifting gears became imbued with meaning."

"It represented the allure of the road, for all its good and ill, and stood in for the human control of a big, hot, dangerous machine screaming down the pavement. The manual transmission’s impending disappearance feels foreboding not (just) because shifting a car is fun and sensual, but also because the gearshift is—or was—a powerful cultural symbol of the human body working in unison with the engineered world.... [T]he coarse feedback that one gets while driving an all-electronic vehicle might be—or feel—too subtle for a brute human mind. Cars have, in a way, become too good. Human understanding slips off their surface, like ice off a hot hood...."

From "The End of Manual Transmission/Stick shifts are dying. When they go, something bigger than driving will be lost" by Ian Bogost (The Atlantic).

I love my 2005 Audi TT and can't imagine trading it in. For what?

Speaking of the feeling of oneness with tools... here's Meade sawing a fallen tree using a Katanaboy folding saw:


IN THE COMMENTS: Robert Marshall said:
Since the saw video didn't take it all the way through, I didn't get to see what must have happened at some point: the tree trunk, being cut midway between two support points, must have bound the saw once the cut got far enough for the trunk to bend down a bit.
Meade said (after acknowledging and laughing at Full Moon's "Still trying to get it out"):
@Robert Marshall, thanks for noticing. Yes, that’s exactly what I did and it was delightfully satisfying when the undercut met up with the top cut—the sound of cracking wood, the release of bound kinetic energy. Working solo in the woods, I made that short video one-handed so that Mrs. Meade could hear the sound of the saw blade. Surprised to see she put it on her blog but, as usual, makes perfect blog sense. IMO.
Meanwhile, quoting Marshall's "the tree trunk, being cut midway between two support points, must have bound the saw once the cut got far enough for the trunk to bend down a bit," Jupiter wrote:
I wondered about that. Unless the supports were so close together that the cut ends moved up. I guess not. Making the undercut meet the top cut must have been interesting.
Fortunately, Meade had photographed the interestingness, so here it is for you to admire:

View recent photos

106 comments:

Mike said...

"Coarse feedback" that is "too subtle". The writer must have slipped a gear in high school English. There's no syncromesh in his syntax.

RNB said...

"Starting an automobile with a hand crank represented the allure of the road, for good or ill. When it was lost, something bigger than driving was lost."

Dave Begley said...

A guy died shortly after he bought a Porsche 911. I thought it would be a manual. It was an automatic.

What's the point of buying a sports car if you can't shift?

ConradBibby said...

Cars have become boring in general. The decline of manual transmission is only a small part of it. All the sedans look alike. All the SUVs look alike. So-called luxury brands are indistinguishable from regular midsize vehicles. And, with rare exception, the cars that don't look like every other car on the road look feminine or goofy (e.g., the Mini).

Virgil Hilts said...

Ann you can still get a new Mini Cooper with manual. After our oldest child proved accident prone we made younger children learn to drive a stick and purchased used MCs for each when they turned 16. Big advantage for a teenager - there's no back seat and you have to pay attention. A teen using both hands and feet to drive and scared of stalling doesn't even think about using her cell phone. Our oldest can also now drive a stick. We still have two minis in the family.

Gusty Winds said...

Manual transmission is fun to drive. But if you live in an area with heavy stop and go traffic, or sitting in a Chicago interstate traffic jam, it's a pain in the ass. You're working the clutch the whole time in first and second gear and don't get the intended trill.

They even put manual high-low manual shifting option on a lot of automatic transmission vehicles now. I have it on mine. Never used it once.

pacwest said...

I've alway had a manual transmission. The author is right on the mark here.

PB said...

Get him a real chainsaw that makes a proper noise.

gilbar said...

forget manual transmissions! The True Joy of driving, was hearing (and Feeling) the vacuum secondaries on your 4-barrel carburetor open.. Not, THAT was a joy.
For all of you, that never owned a car with more horsepower than sensible.. I'm sorry for you.

Serious Question: Can you disable the traction control on a Tesla? That is: Can you do burnouts?

Original Mike said...

Shifting gives you something to do when you're driving. Automatics are boring. Our car and truck are both manuals. When we bought the 2019 VW Alltrack I had to fly to Connecticut to get it. It was great fun driving it home.

Another reason I have zero interest in an electric.

Robert Marshall said...

Since the saw video didn't take it all the way through, I didn't get to see what must have happened at some point: the tree trunk, being cut midway between two support points, must have bound the saw once the cut got far enough for the trunk to bend down a bit.

That is, unless Meade had the foresight to stop before that happened, and cut from the bottom up. Which might be tricky with that kind of saw.

Michael said...

my oldest son learned on my 1972 land Rover which takes two hands to turn any corner. Also manual,of course.

chuck said...

I'm perfectly happy driving an automatic, nor did my male bits shrink after the transition.

FullMoon said...

Robert Marshall said...

Since the saw video didn't take it all the way through, I didn't get to see what must have happened at some point: the tree trunk, being cut midway between two support points, must have bound the saw once the cut got far enough for the trunk to bend down a bit.

Still trying to get it out.

mikeski said...

The talk
The sex
Somebody to trust
The Audi TT
The house on the Vineyard
The house on the gulf coast
These are the things I miss the most

(Steely Dan/"Things I Miss The Most")

Wince said...

Althouse said...

"I love my 2005 Audi TT and can't imagine trading it in. For what?"

Tom T. said...

"Shifting gives you something to do when you're driving."

Oh please, that's what my phone is for.

Ann Althouse said...

“ Ann you can still get a new Mini Cooper with manual.”

But it’s not better than my TT.

hawkeyedjb said...

"The True Joy of driving, was hearing (and Feeling) the vacuum secondaries on your 4-barrel carburetor open."

I had that thrill on my '66 Impala, which poured out an awe-inspiring 275 horsepower from its 327 cubic inch motor. It also featured mind-boggling gasoline consumption, but at yesteryear's prices, who cared?

Today that kind of horsepower is achieved by a 125 cubic inch 4-cylinder. At thrice the miles per gallon.

ndspinelli said...

I gave up manual transmission in 1989 when I got a cell phone.

Robert Marshall said...

Full Moon said, of the stuck saw, "Still trying to get it out."

Put a jack under where the saw is stuck in the trunk, and jack it up until the saw comes loose. Relieve the bend (sag) that caused the binding.

Lurker21 said...

I was going to say, "Leave it to the Japanese to make a saw that looks like a samurai sword," then I found out that a katana is a samurai sword. Clever Japanese. Maybe the samurai sawmen got the government to ban power saws.

kristen said...

I have only ever owned manual cars, and when I was learning to drive in the 90s they had already been writing for some years about the "impending doom" of the death of manual transmissions. My current car is a manual 2017 VW Jetta GLI and it's a lot of fun. What they're right about is that mainstream cars aren't made as manuals anymore. Good riddance! If you want to drive one, they still make them, you just have to look for certain models within certain brands. Bonus- those are usually the models that are more fun to drive!

Meade said...

FullMoon said...
Robert Marshall said...

Since the saw video didn't take it all the way through, I didn't get to see what must have happened at some point: the tree trunk, being cut midway between two support points, must have bound the saw once the cut got far enough for the trunk to bend down a bit.
Still trying to get it out.

Haha, FullMoon!

@Robert Marshall, thanks for noticing. Yes, that’s exactly what I did and it was delightfully satisfying when the undercut met up with the top cut—the sound of cracking wood, the release of bound kinetic energy. Working solo in the woods, I made that short video one-handed so that Mrs. Meade could hear the sound of the saw blade. Surprised to see she put it on her blog but, as usual, makes perfect blog sense. IMO.

JK Brown said...

The manual transmission gives you control over your tool, the vehicle. You can give up some fine control to the automatic transmission for convenience, but you, the individual, are now less powerful as you have less control of the fine operation of the tool. Today, most "control" of the automobile is lost to the individual, who merely makes request of the ECU. Press the accelerator, a request is sent to the ECU, which makes the decision as to whether to signal the throttle position motor to open more.

Convenience is nice, but for many their world is filled with magic they cannot comprehend because they do not seek to know how things work

The power of knowing how to use tools:
In the light of this analysis Carlyle's rhapsody on tools becomes a prosaic fact, and his conclusion—that man without tools is nothing, with tools all—points the way to the discovery of the philosopher's stone in education. For if man without tools is nothing, to be unable to use tools is to be destitute of power; and if with tools he is all, to be able to use tools is to be all-powerful. And this power in the concrete, the power to do some useful thing for man—this is the last analysis of educational truth.
—Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand: manual training, the chief factor in education (1900)

The danger comes when the fancy of the mind is not disciplined by the reality of the hand. Academia is rife with the "false logic" to the point they increasingly are distressed by reality.

It is possible for the mind to indulge in false logic, to make the worse appear the better reason, without instant exposure. But for the hand to work falsely is to produce a misshapen thing—tool or machine —which in its construction gives the lie to its maker. Thus the hand that is false to truth, in the very act publishes the verdict of its own guilt, exposes itself to contempt and derision, convicts itself of unskillfulness or of dishonesty.

Leland said...

I agree with the author and drove much or my life with a manual transmission and scorned cruise control. I taught my daughters with a manual transmission. However, I drive a CR-V with a CVT and self-adjusting cruise control. For the daily commute, I prefer it more, because I want a boring commute. My bigger concern isn’t the loss of manual transmission but the loss of the ICE. I’m loath the sell any vehicle I obtain now, because few newer cars are better, and they are projected to get worse.

JK Brown said...

Consider this description of transportation just a bit over a century ago:

--'The Big Change: America Transforms Itself 1900-1950' (1952), Frederick Allen Lewis

But horses were everywhere, pulling surreys, democrats, buggies, cabs, delivery wagons of every sort on Main Street, and pulling harvesters on the tractorless farms out in the countryside.

The sights and sounds and sensations of horse-and-carriage Iife were part of the universal American experience: he c!op-clop of horses' hoofs; the stiff jolting of an iron-tired carriage on a stony road; the grinding noise of he brake being applied to ease the horse on the downhill stretch; the necessity of holding one's breath when the horse sneezed; the sight of sand, carried up on the tires and wooden spokes of  carriage wheel, spilling off in little cascades as the wheel revolved; the look of a country road overgrown by grass, with three tracks in it instead of two, the middle one made by horses' hoofs; the special maIe ordeal of getting out of the carriage and walking up the steeper hills to lighten the load; and the more severe ordeal, for the unpracticed, of harnessing  horse which could recognize inexperience at one scornful glance. During the Northern winter the jingle of sleigh bells was everywhere. On summer evenings, along the tree-lined streets of innumerable American towns, families sitting on their front porches would watch the fine carriages of the town as they drove pst for a proud evening's jaunt and the cognoscenti would wait eagerly for the glimpse of the banker's trotting pair or the sporting lawyer's 2:40 pacer. And one of the magnificent sights of urban life was that of the fire engine, pulled by three galloping horses, careening down a city street with its bell clanging.


Just to barely function require so much more knowledge, even of children, than even the manual transmission vehicle. But these days, even in darkest winter, the traveler can go from warm house, to warm car, to warm destination and so sometimes foolishly leave behind warm coats.

Hey Skipper said...

Nearly all the cars I've owned have been manuals.

Last year, my wife came into a bit of an inheritance, and she decided we needed a new car, because our 2007 was just too old. An immaculately maintained car, btw.

A BMW was just the thing for her — an M340i. Astonishingly fast. Unfortunately, despite being a driver's car, like nearly all the rest of the BMW line, no manual for you. Instead, there is the ZF8. It is telepathic, and shifts nearly instantaneously. There are flappy-paddle shifters, but we haven't used them since the second week with the car.

While I didn't want an autobox, the integration it allows is necessary for things like adaptive cruise control (very nice to have), emergency braking, and full authority cruise control. (The latter two are also nice to have, except when they are furiously stoopid, seemingly intent on proving just how far off autonomous vehicles are.)

Beasts of England said...

‘Ann you can still get a new Mini Cooper with manual.’

We used to keep a Mini Cooper at the beach house. More fun than a go kart!! And about the same size.

Howard said...

Building and piloting machines has always been a huge American privilege source. Is tech an adequate replacement or are we doomed?

Paddy O said...

I have an older VW Jetta stick shift. Lots of things I don't like about it but driving the manual is indeed fun, though I live in the mountains, so it has it's frustrations too, like those stop signs going up a steep road. Living in a place with traffic also made it frustrating.

Glad I know how to drive a stick, but honestly I like to let my thoughts wander while driving, not pay attention to the details of it. My automatic outback has the option to manual shift option, and I've never used it, though have come close in some really thick snow on hills.

My very first car (bought in '91) was a used '68 VW Karmann Ghia with autostick, which was likewise really fun to drive. Though that autostick added a lot more problems than it was worth. I didn't learn how to drive a clutch for another 10 years.

gspencer said...

Not long ago I had a 5-speed manual transmission. I could leave that car anywhere, unlocked, without fear of it being stolen.

Hugh said...

2002 Mazda Miata and 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser—both manuals. Like Ann said, what could I get that is better? And one of the many things that attracted me to my wife was that she could drive a stick. Her car is an automatic, she’s intimidated by the 6 speed on the FJ and hates the small, low, convertible Miata, but I love the wife of my youth just the same!

exhelodrvr1 said...

Making videos one-handed? OK ...

gilbar said...

Dave Begley said...
A guy died shortly after he bought a Porsche 911. I thought it would be a manual. It was an automatic.

What's the point of buying a sports car if you HAVE TO shift?
fify!
you can shift a automatic. The Only thing that's Hard to do, is slip the clutch (which the torque converter does FOR YOU

on the Other, hand...
RNB said...
"Starting an automobile with a hand crank represented the allure of the road, for good or ill. When it was lost, something bigger than driving was lost."

i TRULY felt this about kick starters, until i got a bike with an electric start
That was the end of using the kick start, even though there WAS one on that bike (YAMAHA RD400)

Dave Begley said...

I test drove a TT and I liked it, but I'm too tall. And it was a convertible.

I ended up buying a used BMW X5. Love it! Hard to keep it under the speed limit.

Joke.

What's the difference between a BMW and a porcupine?

With a BMW, the pricks are inside.

Jupiter said...

" the tree trunk, being cut midway between two support points, must have bound the saw once the cut got far enough for the trunk to bend down a bit."

I wondered about that. Unless the supports were so close together that the cut ends moved up.

I guess not. Making the undercut meet the top cut must have been interesting.

n.n said...

Toxic motherhood, obviously. The alternative explanation involves sticks... and stones.

Sebastian said...

"the human body working in unison with the engineered world"

Even in an automatic, it still is. The unison is just much easier to achieve, hence not satisfying to people who identify unison with effort.

n.n said...

Sawing your way through a boyful of energy.

Jupiter said...

There is a community of young men who take Honda Civics and put VTEC engines from Honda Preludes into them. They also swap in a special console with a tachometer, and a speedometer that goes up to 145. Their motivations are obscure.

I purchased one of these vehicles, from a kid whose wife was pregnant. He said they could only afford one baby, so he was selling his. I didn't really understand what I was getting into. The first time I drove it, I went to pass a compact pickup, going up a steep hill with a short passing lane. He was not going to be passed by no Honda Civic! He floored it. We were running out of lane, and I didn't really know what she could do, but I decided to find out. I dropped into third and gave her some gas. My God! He just disappeared. Gone, in a few seconds. And the sound, when that VTEC cut in at 4K! I thought about how to describe that sound for a long time. It was a "joyous singing roar".

catter said...

The young'uns where I work seem to fetishize the ability to shift manually. Every one of them has skills that are far more rare and much harder to learn, like Nordic skiing efficiently or fast descending on technical mountain bike trails, that they take for granted.

Howard said...

The first cut is the deepest.

FullMoon said...

But it’s not better than my TT.

One of you other guys do it, I dare ya.

John Scott said...

You can always buy a motorcycle

Charlotte Allen said...

I love manuals. They're the only kind of car worth driving. We haven't owned a car in 18 years because cars are too much of a hassle in DC, but before 2004 I never owned a car that wasn't a manual. Even in a city they're fun to drive, and you feel so much more in control as a driver. But I don't know where I'd find one nowadays, unless I went for really high-end. It's sad.

John henry said...

You young whippersnappers don't know nothing. Manual transmissions started the downslide. All cars should come with planetary transmissions, pedals you have to stomp on and throttle and spark advance levers on the steering wheel. I wonder how many here could drive one of those?

The way the good Lord and Mr Ford meant cars to be.

My first car, a 1950 Pontiac that I paid $100 for in 1965, did not have that but it did have a manual choke that had to be set just right to get the motor going. Also a manual throttle, a knob that could be pulled out of the gas to give a sort of cruise control. You had to remember to push it in if you needed to stop.



Seriously, I could drive a stick at age 12, I've owned a number of cars that had stick and I just don't see the point. A car is something to get me from point A to point B in as much comfort and with as little work as possible.

I love my Hyundai Elantra. 50 miles to the gallon, self-driving (at least it stays in lane) and exceedingly comfortable. Automatic, of course.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

effinayright said...

Wifey and I used to love our manual transmissions.

Then we had to drive very frequently through Boston's Ted Williams tunnel to/from Logan airport during rush hour. Stop. Go. Stop. for a couple of miles.

We were thankful for the automatic in our CRV.

robother said...

One of my earliest memories is pretend driving, making the sound of the gear shifts from 1st to 3rd.

Jay Vogt said...

It's way bigger than that (losing the manual transmission). The whole role of the right hand, the left foot and the eyeballs has diminished in an overall unpleasant way.

For those gorgeous manual transmission V8 sedans, driving was different and way better than it is in a current automatic SUV loaded with chips with its center of gravity raised too high. A classic car (for me that's a '70 Oldsmobile 442 or really any BMW 3 series with an inline 6 and not a single chip) drove perfectly. With your right hand (and left foot) you controlled the push of the vehicle without thinking about it. And, with the same right hand you controlled the radio and the HVAC without having to move your eyes over to the application screen. Your eyes never let the road! and you got what you wanted pretty fast. And as a sedan with the lower body weight, it cornered just the way you wanted and expected.

The new heavily chipped, automatic transmission SUVs are OK to drive, but not anywhere near as fun.

PM said...

Taught both kids how to drive a stick, so that they could drive anything in a pinch.

Lance said...

Ohhh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay...

Susan in Seattle said...

Still regretting trading in my 2009 6-speed Mini Cooper. What a blast to drive.

Jim at said...

Another advantage to having a stick? Car thieves won't know how to drive it.

Personal experience.

Wince said...

Althouse said...
"But it’s not better than my TT."

I'm sure Meade feels the same.

Wilbur said...

If you want to become one with a tool, run a 110 ld. jackhammer for a day.

In fact, I recommend it.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Meade has an excellent tool for the job! Some consider those Silky saws to be the finest pruning saws in the world (although I'm partial to the Bahco brand made in France). I know the designer of Silky and he has a knack for catchy names, like his Zubot! saw that is pole mounted. He told me that Zubot! is the sound a samurai sword makes when it goes through an enemy with a clean cut.

Dave said...

The nice thing about feeling the oneness with that saw is that you will experience the oneness for quite a while. I prefer being one with a Stihl 880, though the feeling is far more fleeting.

My Subaru is a manual. I bought it in February of 2021. I had a premonition that gas prices would rise, so I traded my auto 4WD pickup for the manual AWD Subaru. I miss that truck.

Original Mike said...

"My first car, a 1950 Pontiac that I paid $100 for in 1965, did not have that but it did have a manual choke that had to be set just right to get the motor going."

I had a Chevy Malibu bought used (the only automatic transmission car I've ever owned) that had problems that my mechanic was convinced was the carburetor. He couldn't seem to fix it, however, so he installed a manual choke. It did fix it but I had to learn how to set it based on current conditions. Was OK after the learning curve.

Friendo said...

I taught my daughter how to drive a manual transmission car in a cemetery parking lot in Iceland. It was a rented POS 5-speed Duster hatch-back with doors that didn't close properly. Glorious!

Gravel said...

Never even heard of a Katanaboy folding saw before; now I must have one.

n.n said...

But it’s not better than my TT.

One of you other guys do it, I dare ya.


Tough TTs.

Dave said...

I need to also add here that Audi is German, and in Deutsche it translates as "drives too god damned fast".

rhhardin said...

About four old smooth sumac trees a year commit suicide and need sawing up and carrying to the back fence woodpile, which I do with a limb lopper for small enough branches and a small handsaw for the large ones and the trunk. A tree takes about an hour to saw up and carry, or in the case of the trunk bottom, drag away. I relearn a timber hitch each time for the latter.

KellyM said...

I learned to drive a stick on an old beat up 1978 Subaru wagon, and loved driving it on the back roads. I learned in the 80s before cell phones, but had other things to think about. Like driving with my knees, while holding a long-neck bottle as I shifted with my right hand, and a cigarette out the window with my left. (Vermont still had an 18 year old drinking age then) Now I couldn't possibly do that. But as much as I still miss the fun of a stick shift, I like not worrying about it on the hills of SF. It's been 20+ years and I don't think it would be much fun to stall in traffic.


rob5819 said...

Drive a 7 speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters, push hard into a 45 degree turn through a tunnel, drop three gears while pushing down on the accelerator . . . you will no longer mourn the disappearance of the manual transmission. Far more engaging, far more rewarding.

Ferrari, Lambo, McLaren do not offer manual transmissions and those are the most exciting cars to drive. Porsche does still offer manuals, but not on their highest performing cars.

I drove only manual transmissions from age 15 to age 45 and loved it. I still enjoy it and have kept a 2003 BMW Z4 for the last 19 years, but it now spends 99% of its time tucked in the garage behind one of my 7 speed DCT / paddle shifter cars.

“ 'Ann you can still get a new Mini Cooper with manual.”

But it’s not better than my TT.'"

For a fair comparison, a current John Cooper Works Mini with manual transmission would be a nice upgrade from a 2005 Audi TT.

policraticus said...

Learned to drive a stick on our baby blue Ford Pinto sedan. My failure to hold on a hill stop frustrated my father so badly he kicked me out of the driver's seat and we drove home in stony silence. When we got home, he gave me the keys and said, "Stay in the neighborhood. Take your time. When you figure it out, come get me."

I'd drive a manual to this very day, if they'd let me.

madAsHell said...

The AWD with power transfer to the tracking wheels really puts a manual transmission to shame.

Cheers to my 1973 Mercury Capri with a 3.0L motor, and a 4 speed stick!!

Unknown said...

I assume that Silky Katanaboy is the bomb (having just seen a bunch being used on Alone Season 8). However, a more economical and quite satisfying alternative is the Silky BigBoy, currently available on Amazon for $70. Plus its bright yellow handle makes it tough to lose in foliage piles.

Unknown said...

Always cut the compression side of the log first, but not too deep so the saw doesn’t get pinched. This provides escape movement for the log as you finish the cut on the tension side. It also prevents splintering.

Maynard said...

One of the best, most fun, reliable and low priced cars I ever owned was a new 1993 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission. A friend called it the "pocket rocket".

A few months later my office moved from the city (Chicago) to the western 'burbs. It was a commute from hell with nearly 100 stop signs or lights. I sold it in 1998 and never bought another manual.

I would love to have a manual transmission car now, but that's nearly impossible in a 4Runner.

Richard Aubrey said...

Covered a lot of ground in my '65 Beetle back in the Sixties. Learned to drive stick on an overloaded Econoline. Never found the magic.
Was on Mackinaw Island recently, taking a tour on a horse-drawn carriage--only kind allowed--and the encomium to such missed a couple of items. One is that horses emit many pounds of prime fly-egg bedding material each day. And you can watch it happening in real time as you go.
Anybody seen any flypaper around recently?

FullMoon said...

Stop and go with a stick is annoying. The worst is participating in a multi thousand vehicle car show, packed with spectators and super expensive custom cars and hot rods, cruising the fairgrounds five miles an hour, clutch in and out and rethinking every piece of clutch linkage and imagining the carnage if anything fails.

That's why I now just park in the shade and walk around with a cup of beer in hand.

FullMoon said...

One of few good things here in California is there in no law against owning more than one vehicle. Automatics for everyday, standards for fun.

Dave64 said...

I learned to drive in a '48 Dodge with three on the tree. Had a Ford Falcon Futura, 289 4 speed Borg T-10, fast little car. Had a Volkswagen pop top camper, also 4 speed manual, slowest vehicle I ever owned.

Dave64 said...

I learned to drive in a '48 Dodge with three on the tree. Had a Ford Falcon Futura, 289 4 speed Borg T-10, fast little car. Had a Volkswagen pop top camper, also 4 speed manual, slowest vehicle I ever owned.

John Holland said...

I have one of those folding tree saws. Sees hard use in spring and fall. We have no trees on our property, but the neighbors on two sides have big old trees that drop a large branch or two into our backyard once or twice a year after a wind storm.

Joe Bar said...

Taught both my daughters to drive manuals and they still do. Just drive my Mustang convertible up to Massachusetts for a high school f reunion. My best friend from HS and the army showed me his New Genesis. "Look, it backs up by itself!". Eff that. I have412 HP and a six speed manual.

On the other hand, I hand my left ankle fused a few years ago, and I bought a Honda Africa Twin with an automatic transmission. Hard to addict with the for these days.

As for tools, yes, the more you know how to use, the better. Nothing like solving a problem.

John henry said...

Gilbar,

I had a 1000cc Harley Sportster in the early 70s. Cool bike but a real piece of shit mechanically.

No electric start or much else. A real sob to kick start. You had to literally jump on the kicker.

If you didn't have the throttle set just right, it would backfire and the kick starter would launch you in the air.

It did that to me one night in San juan in the wee hours. I then fell over, pulling the bike on top of me and cracking my femur.

Some folks held get me upright then push started me.

Adult beverages may have been involved.

The navy doctor put me in a full hip to toe cast "to keep me off that goddamed motorcycle"

John LGBTQBNY Henry
.

AndrewV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AndrewV said...

Before I could get my driver's license I had to prove to my dad I could drive his under powered stick shift Volkswagen bus up and down the hills of San Francisco.

Are W said...

Have driven manual transmission vehicles for over sixty years. Still keep one in the garage and take it for a spin every week or two.

John henry said...

About the same time, I had a bultaco pursang that I raced motocross.

Because the engine was so simple, it would run either way. Never happened to me but occasionally they would kick back enough to start backwards. You might not notice until you put it in gear and took off in reverse

John LGBTQBNY Henry

Meade said...

@ policraticus , I don’t know why but your 4:10 comment choked me up a little. And I never even get choked up at all. Ever. Well actually I do know why but enough of that already.

Manual transmissions I have owned and loved (in order): ‘68 Opel Kadette, ‘67 Beetle, ‘66 Beetle, ‘70 MicroBus, ‘69 Honda 350 motorcycle, ‘58 Chevy pickup, ‘77 Honda Civic wagon, ‘88 Chevy Silverado, ‘78 Volvo wagon.

There’s another couple of Beetles in there somewhere. I know I know: I am such a slut. But I truly loved each and every one and always checked their oil and tire pressure and kept their windshield clean.

Now, want to hear about all my dogs?

Creola Soul said...

The manual transmission…..also known as “A millennial anti theft device.”

Narayanan said...

I wondered about that. Unless the supports were so close together that the cut ends moved up.
=========
I don't see any 'supports' except tree on ground >>> curve/bent tree or hollow ground?

PJ said...

@ConradBibby 11:17. Indeed, cars in general have become boring. Thanks to CAFE standards and aerodynamics, the halcyon days when a car was a rolling objet d’art are gone. (Present company’s TT sincerely excluded.)

Michael K said...

Blogger Creola Soul said...

The manual transmission…..also known as “A millennial anti theft device.”


Exactly. It's like cursive writing. If you want to keep secrets from idiots, write it in cursive.

Linda said...

Once you know how to drive a manual transmission - you never forget. I learned in 1976 on a BMW 2002 - my husband and I then went on to have a manual Audi - Buick & Toyota - all in the 80's. A few years ago my son purchased a Subaru WRX and let both my husband and myself drive it - he was giving me a lesson (it was his first new car!) and I assured him I knew what I was doing and proceeded to downshift smoothly - needless to say - he stopped giving me a lesson. Now I drive a Tesla with auto-pilot and the beta version of full self driving - while I still miss shifting - I love the speed and smoothness of the Tesla.
One of the earlier commenters talked about having their kids drive manual transmissions and I totally agree - driving a stick requires both hands and both feet so no (or little) opportunity to text or checking your phone.

Sprezzatura said...

“…trading it in. For what?”

A 911.

Which one is the best one depends on budget and what sorta use is required.

I love my short wheel base long hood more than the other Porsches I have. Even so, I think Meadehouse should totally avoid air-cooled. Maybe get a base 997.2. The all wheel drive version if that’s needed.

If there was interest in an older car that doesn’t need new safety stuff, rust avoidance, conveniences and so on, I’d still avoid an air cooled Porsche and instead get a 1750 GTV Alfa. A really great one can be purchased for the dough that will only buy a not at all great air-cooled 911. My 1750 is a real joy to drive, more than just the manual contributes to the experience. The balance and sound are great. Plus these GTVs look cool. IMHO.

Plus w/ an Alfa you can avoid the 911 stigma. What’s the difference between a 911 and a porcupine?

P.S. I get straight cuts w/ my Stihl 88 w/ a 60” bar. It helps that it’s on an alaskan saw mill contraption and a helper who is guiding the handle attached to the tip of the bar.

Sprezzatura said...

"Starting an automobile with a hand crank represented the allure of the road, for good or ill. When it was lost, something bigger than driving was lost."

Someday I’ll try to use this technique to start my car that has hand crank starting built in to it.

The hand crank thing isn’t even the weirdest thing about that car. Citroens are wacky.

John henry said...

Sprezzatura,

Be sure to pull the crank up, not push it down.

That way, when it kicks back, it will pull the crank from your hand rather than breaking your arm.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

AndrewV said...

Be sure to pull the crank up, not push it down.

That way, when it kicks back, it will pull the crank from your hand rather than breaking your arm.

Break you arm if your lucky. My grandmother and her sister told me stories of people being killed when the crank kicked back and hit them in the head.

AndrewV said...

Blogger Creola Soul said...

The manual transmission…..also known as “A millennial anti theft device.”

That was why my friends 22 year old son bought a Hyundai with a manual transmission. It didn't help, the car got stolen anyway.

Sprezzatura said...

This GTV video has corny edit/graphic stuff.

But, you need that stuff to help express what it feels like when you're in the driver's seat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUYEXE3-AXI

George said...

I saw an article a couple years ago titled something like "16 cars you can still get with a manual transmission". I've been driving automatics the last 20 years or so, but decided maybe I should get another stick while I still could.

I've owned a Mini before, but don't care for front-wheel drive, so I ended up buying a Mustang. I've never really been a fan of Mustangs in the past, but I was surprised to find I love the styling of the latest generation, and it's a blast to drive.

It's just a 4 cylinder, but it's quicker than my old RX-7 and many of the older V-8 Mustangs. Heck, it even has a better lateral acceleration rating than the car of my dreams as a kid, the Ferrari Dino 246 GT, which had the best G rating of any production car of the time.

Plus modern conveniences that I love: a backup camera, backup warning sensors, and adaptive cruise control, that you won't find on an old TT.

Bunkypotatohead said...

Try driving in a 4 hour NY traffic jam with a clutch where your speed varies from 0 to 2 mph the whole time.

Sprezzatura said...

And,

If that video was too much hooning to sell a 1750 GTV to Meadehouse, it can be fun to slow it down too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsjwnYM3pUU

Kev said...

I drove a stick from high school until three years ago. And even then, I asked the salesperson to look in his database to see if he could find one, out of loyalty to the "tribe." There wasn't one to be found!

It turned out to be a blessing that there wasn't one, as I suffered a debilitating left foot injury two months later that still (thanks, Covid!) is a few months away from being fixed. I would have been very upside down on a car that I could no longer drive.

The manual transmission…..also known as “A millennial anti theft device.”

Back when I was driving a stick, I had a flat tire, so I put the "donut" spare on and drove it to a local tire place. Two very young (early 20s?) guys were the only ones working there. Not two minutes after settling in the waiting room, one of the guys came in and said, "This is really embarrassing...but could you please pull your car into the bay? Neither one of us can drive a stick."

Seems to me that being able to do so would be a prerequisite for working at a car place of any kind, but I suppose that just shows how rare those cars are these days.

Sprezzatura said...

And one more hooning GTV cause this demonstrates that modern cars are too fast. Even this old Alfa is capable of insanity on streets. That's enough.

IMHO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUeyVB9lNII

Saint Croix said...

Stick shift is awesome. You really feel like you're driving the car. You got to get your hands and feet in sync with the machine.

Automatic is more boring.

And to replace that with an autonomous robot that drives the car for us while we get fatter and fatter and sleepier and sleepier is just another step closer in turning humanity into those fucking Eloi.

Saint Croix said...

My second car was a Jeep (CJ-7). Talk about fun! I would go off-road and fly around in the mud. When I was in college we were off-roading. And there was a hill we should not have been going down. And I tried to go down it super-slow. And my Jeep turned over on its side.

And I'm hanging in mid-air, strapped in with my (waist-only) seatbelt. And gas is pouring out of my car. Because some asshole had stolen my gas cap and I hadn't replaced it yet. So I'm like, "John, do you mind putting out that cigarette?"

And he was kind of stunned by the crash. "What?"

"There's a lot of gas flowing under you. Could you put out that cigarette?"

And he's like, "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!" And he jams out his cigarette. And then he's screaming at me to get out of the car. Which is kind of hard to do when you're hanging in your seatbelt.

Eventually I free myself, and he jumps out of the car and sprints 200 yards. I'm like, "Where the hell are you going?" And I walk over to him. And then the two of us walk back to the dorms. (This was at the University of Georgia, go dogs).

So I recruit a bunch of friends to drive over to my Jeep and try to push it right side up. And they drive up to the side of the road. And whatever Jeep driver I recruited didn't want to go where I had gone.

We had four or five people. But we were unable to push the Jeep back upright. We had to push it down the hill. Which meant we had to push it upside-down, then on it's other side, and then upright. And it almost turned over again, causing me to go, "Oh shit oh shit oh shit!" But it stayed on all four tires. And then I had to drive back without a windshield.

Fun times! Anyway, that was a stick.

GRW3 said...

I learned on manual and have had several over the years. I even mastered the complex brake-clutch-accelerator dance on a hill after moving to hilly San Antonio from flat Houston. My left knee, however, has basically vetoed acquisition of another. Over the years of travel to the UK, I did get the occasional manual transmission. Fortunately, the shift pattern, of left to right, is the same in both. The awkward car was a Mercedes Benz Estate because they just stuck the gas brake and clutch pedals on the right side without ergonomic accommodation for using your right let. The UK built cars took that in mind. My last stint in driving a standard was during a midnight run from Lyon to Marseille about eight years ago, sharing driving duties with my traveling companion.

stlcdr said...

The manual transmission will not be missed.

Indeed, traded a Fiat Spider for a BMW with a far superior auto box.

Caligula said...

I bought cheap, underpowered cars and chose the stick because it enhanced the car's performance and improved its fuel economy as compared with the automatics available then.

Now that automatic transmissions can shift at least as well as I do I have no further need for them.

Was it sometimes pleasurable to row through the gears? Well, yes. But it was no pleasure to have to constantly clutch and de-clutch in stop-and-go traffic (plus wear-and-tear on the clutch).

The Mazda Miata is still available with a stick (in some trim levels, that's all that's offered) and if I bought one I'd buy it with the stick. But I don't know that I'd want the Miata for daily commuting either.

So, stick shifts may remain in sports and a few high-performance cars. Or they may not, as economies of scale are lost with low-volume production, and automakers are having some difficulty in fully integrating a manual with all the driver-safety features.

PeteRR said...

Manual transmission is still the default here in Europe. If you insist on driving an auto trans car for your driving test, they give you a neutered license that only allows you to operate automatic transmission cars.