Well, today (yesterday, actually… unless my clock is lying) I finally got to drag my father out in our little Honda Civic hatchback so I could learn to drive the silly thing. It’s a standard, which was the point of this whole exercise - I can drive an automatic just fine, thankyouverymuch. The reason I want to learn to drive this thing is largely because the vast majority of my driving time is in a minivan. A smaller minivan, but a minivan nonetheless. I much prefer driving smaller cars because I have a much better sense of where the entire vehicle is, especially the right side. The feeling of control is also much nicer; I’m driving, not guiding. I do like the feel of the hatchback - the only downside to it is the lack of powered steering. Even with this little car, turning the wheel at a stop takes Herculean effort for my tiny biceps. Anyway… we pull into a fairly empty, moderate sized parking lot that wraps around a couple buildings in a mostly empty industrial park. My dad and I swapped seats, and the fun began.
To begin with, I was a bit ahead of myself. I figured, hey, I know how this done, more or less. No problem; a couple tries and I’ll have it down pat. Oh, so wrong I was. My first start was impressive - I think I raced the engine a bit, then popped the clutch. WHOAH! The thing lurched forward, burning rubber, than jerked to stop as I reflectively came off the gas. It stalled. Great. I tried a couple more time, before I got the car moving, albeit with difficulty. So finally, I’ve gotten it going a couple times, but I still can’t do it smoothly. I go from first to second a few times as I head around the other side of the building. This was much easier; I had a couple shifts that weren’t too great, but I often was able to shift from first to second gear quite smoothly. But from a stop to moving, even after half an hour of practice, I hadn’t had one perfect start. I had a reasonably smooth one at one point, but nothing too great. Fortunately, before we headed home, my dad demonstrated a few times for me. It seems that I’m doing two things, now that I think about it: First, I’m easing the clutch up until I feel it start to engage, at which point I release it too quickly. The other side of this problem is that I’m often not giving it enough gas as I engage, and giving it the right amount of gas is made far harder when you release the clutch too fast. The other thing that I tend to do is race the engine a bit when trying to give it enough gas. As before, I’m still releasing the clutch too fast while do this. I figure I need practice.
Dopers, what’s your experience with manual gearbox cars? How long did it take you to learn it? Do you have any tips? I am determined to get this down; I think it could be fun to drive one of these. Besides, I might soon own a Geo Metro with a manual transmission (I know, I know::eek:). I WILL learn this!