Tag Archives: Manual Shift

For all you gearheads out there

Hands up if you can drive stick — or, as they say in the UK, manual shift.

I learned how to drive on an automatic, and passed my driver’s test in a 1968 Ford station wagon the size of Battlestar Galactica. (Really. It was “Seafoam Green.”) A couple of years later my mom taught me to drive a manual shift. My baby sister has never forgiven me for showing up in the middle of that driving lesson… to pick her up from junior high. I mean, it was seventh grade. And she had to be seen in the car while her uncoordinated sister took an ungodly number of minutes to make it out of the parking lot, jerking and stalling and rolling toward the buses while trying frantically to restart the engine, in front of everybody.

The 1966 Mustang I drove for ten years was a straight six automatic. It was still cool, cooler than anything invented in the history of humanity, even on the day the engine had an aneurysm in Los Angeles traffic on my way to a crucial deposition.

The Husband always drove stick shifts. His Toyota pickup ended up with almost 300,000 miles on the odometer. After Yota retired, we drove a series of manual shift cars for years.

The daughter and older son passed their British driving tests in an automatic. Which means they got Automatic licences. That’s the only kind of car they could legally drive. (Upside: the licences are good until they turn seventy. My son’s expires in 2060.) Then we got a Mini Cooper. It’s manual shift. My younger son learned to drive on it, and passed his test in a manual — so he has a licence to drive both manual and automatic. Which, of course, convinced his older brother to retake his driver’s test so he could drive the Mini too.

The Daughter can legally drive the Mini as well, because she has a California license. And let’s not speak of the day she learned how to do that, with Mom and both brothers in the car. It was unkind of me to subject us all to that experience. Sorry, honey.

Driving stick is fun. Of course it is. The video above simply proves it. But apparently 90% of American cars are now automatics. Without the ability to jam in the clutch, slam the stick forward, pop the clutch and floor the gas pedal, what will future action movies — and generations of teenagers — do for thrills?

The children! Won’t somebody think of the children?!