Stick Shifters Unite!

I’m a college student in Tallahassee FL. In my 4 years of driving, I have driven stick shifts most of the time.

I believe I’m one of the few people who find automatic transmissions extremely difficult to drive. When I’m in my car, I have full control of the vehicle. I can determine exactly when I downshift to climb a hill. I can modify the shifting characteristics at will. I can even crank the car with a dead battery by my self.

Driving automatics, on the other hand, makes me extremely nervous. Specifically driving my fathers car (A jeep Cherokee with a straight 6. it’s a light vehicle with lots of low end torque), I feel like I can barely control the vehicle. When I press the gas to pass, I am never quite sure whether it will gently accelerate, staying in the highest gear, or shift down with no warning and blast forward. When I sit at a stop light, I have to maintain hard pressure on the brake because in drive, the engine is straining against me.

What about all of y’all… what kind of transmission makes you the most comfortable?

I love my stick shift. I finally learned how to drive one after graduating from college, when I moved back into my parent’s house, had no job, no car, and all they had were sticks. I love the feeling of control that I have when I drive one.

I occasionally have to rent a car for work, and it’s always an automatic. I hate it. I spend the week feeling like I’m going to wreck constantly, mainly because of the things that muffinman mentioned. Also, I hate the poor gas mileage I seem to get in those.

Maybe it’s partly that I know my car so well. I’ve been driving it for a long time, and just know how much pressure to use on the gas to get it to take off the way I want to. shrug I don’t know, but I do know that I won’t purchase anything but a stick shift.

Meanwhile, 2 of my friends and 1 co-worker are trying to get me to teach them how to drive a stick. I keep avoiding it, especially with the co-worker, because I just don’t trust him.

Put me down on the list of stick shift enthusiasts. My mom insisted I learn to drive on a stick (yay mom!), and so I’ve never been afraid of them like some people seem to be. Of course, I learned on a VW bus, so there was plenty else to be afraid of.

I keep seeing sports cars around with automatic transmissions. Why? If you’re not going to actually drive the thing, why in the world pay for a performance vehicle?

Chiming in . . . I miss my stick shift – when Mr. Scarlett’s pickup finally croaked, we went ahead and bought the (urk) minivan that I needed for my weekend business. So now he drives my little blue Ford Aspire on his 100-mile-round-trip work commute; I work at home, so the van is here if I need to go anywhere.

Stick shifts are great for driving in snow, especially out here where our road is usually one of the last to get plowed.

Even though I’ve driven stick shift trucks more than humanly possible, let me come to the defense of the maligned automatic here.

For starters, you don’t necessarly have to step on the gas to go in an autoshifter. It’ll idle forward, then you can press gently on the gas. I know exactly how my van will perform under any given circumstance, even though it’s an autoshifter.

I hate shifting. It completely stresses me out. I don’t enjoy driving to begin with, and adding shifting to the mix just makes it a complete nightmare.

Everyone who hears me rant about how much I dislike driving and hate driving a stick shift is always surprised when they drive with me. They tend to say things like “Wow. You ARE a good driver”, and “But you know how to drive a stick shift well!”. Yes, I can drive well, and with a stick shift, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Give me an automatic transmission over a stick shift anyday.

I find most people who like stick shifts tend to enjoy driving, and people who prefer automatic transmissions tend to view driving as a necessary evil.

I learned on a stick (a manual 4-on-the-floor station wagon, if you can believe that) and have always owned cars with a stick shift. lolagranola is right about it being a big part of the enjoyment of driving – it’s the only way to go IMO.

That being said, I have driven automatics on occasion (other peoples cars, rental cars, etc) and it takes a modicum of time to get used to how any other car performs (how quickly it accelerates, touchiness of the brakes, how much play in the steering). This usually takes a few miles to get used to, but then it becomes comfortable.

The thing that always freaks me out is I can never, and I mean never, get use to the fact that there is no clutch!. My left foot goes to the floor every time I break, and if I stop at a light, I keep thinking the car is going to stall because I’m not holding the clutch down. It makes me squirrelly just thinking about it.

On the pros side of automatics, they are mucho appreciated when stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Takes a load off of the lower back from not having to keep your foot on the clutch all the time. And if the car idles with some power, you can basically drive by just controlling how much pressure you put on the brake and not have to use the accelerator at all until the traffic starts to really pick up.

But I would be very sad indeed if the world was only automatics. It’s like eating only bland food all your life. Sure you can live on it, but is that really living?. I don’t think so.

I learned to drive on a stick. The times I’ve driven on an automatic, I’ve felt very disconnected from driving. Stick, all the way!

Well, I enjoy driving, and much prefer a stick shift. Better control when driving fast, on bad roads, etc.

I learned a stick (MANY years ago) on a drunken night in San Francisco with a girlfriend. She had way too much to drink, and I was not nearly as impaired. I’d barely learned to drive, and had to get out of the city in an MG with a touchy shifter…all those hills…I probably stalled it 387 times and took years off her clutch. But I did get us home in one piece. :smiley:

I drove a semi for several years. 18 speed. Woohoo.

Girl, YOU are my hero.


I drove a Mazda GLC 5-speed for years, then got an automatic and hated it. I now have a stickshift Saturn, and love it. However, I agree that an automatic is better in traffic jams. Living in a rural area as I do, the standard shift is great fun on our curvy roads.

Also, I think if one is committed to driving a stick, (ie, wants to be good at it) it makes them better drivers. It’s real DRIVING, as opposed to just pointing the car down the street.

I’ll also go a step further and say that I don’t like having ANY automatic features in my car, such as power windows and such. I feel they add levels of complexity that are not necessary, and are just more things to break. What if your car fell into a lake and then the power windows don’t work? You’re definitely in for a bad day.

A final thought - I just got my private pilot’s license last month, and have noticed that my driving skills improved as I learned to fly. The precision and pre-planning one learns as a pilot transferred over to the car for me. I’m now wishing that we trained drivers even half as well as pilots. Since learning to fly I’ve become even more amazed at how bad many drivers are - very little forethought in what they do, and no understanding of how their actions affect other drivers.

Sorry for the ramble. :rolleyes:

I drive a '93 Thunderbird LX and am constantly wondering why the only trim level for which a stick was offered was the SC (supercharged) model. The normal (non-supercharged) V6 and 5.0L V8 start making torque so low that it’s hard to keep the car on the road in wet weather while accelerating through the low RPM range. The back wheels spin way too easily. Worse yet, the automatic is very conservative in shifting–the darn car is geared so it can hit 40 out of 1st gear (really–and nearly 70 out of 2nd–I’ve floored it and done this), but most of the time you’ll never get above 3000 RPM, when, as I mentioned before, the car is doing quite well at making tons of torque, but not making very much power overall (not that it does that even at high RPMs).

Wish they made those with 5-speeds; it would make them a lot easier to drive, especially for passing. The darn automatic makes those (big) cars feel even bigger, if you know what I mean.

Haven’t got my Operator’s License yet. Tried driving my pop’s Porsche 7 days ago for the first time. It’s a “long-throw, linked system with a heavy clutch” (his phrasing). All I know is that it’s a bit tricky. I can switch from 1st to 2nd 90% of the time, but going from a standstill (in neutral) to 1st gear and accelerating is tricky. Automatics (e.g. our BMW) are so much easier and relaxing. It’s nice to be able to focus on the road and not have to worry about changing the gears.

Once I get a handle on sticks, though, my opinion will probably change.

I love my stick shift. Wouldn’t trade it for an automatic if you paid me. In an automatic, I am “operating the transport pod.” In a manual, I am driving the car. This is not a subtle difference.

What’s more, my manual transmission vehicle(new last year) cost less than a comparable automatic, and I have the respect of my peers (especially the man-types) for being able to drive it.

And who can ignore the thrill of driving down the highway and being able to throw it into fifth in time with the music on the stereo? One of life’s seldom-appreciated joys.

Definitely a standard-gearbox person, myself. I learned to drive in a 1953 Chevrolet 3/4-ton army truck that lacked just about all known automotive amenities, including an ignition key (it had a switch) and synchromesh transmission (you learned to double-clutch or you stayed home). My first civvy car was a Volkswagen beetle, purchased in Germany in 1977, and I have owned only three cars since – a Datsun F-10 (so cheap they didn’t make them with automatics) and two diesel-fired Volkswagens (engine apparently not adaptable to an automatic). Way back in 1977 I just fell in love with the way Volkswagens run and handle, and whenever I have to rent something (the Nissan Lycra I had in Ireland still haunts me) I find myself missing that good, solid VW feel. American cars, in particular, are so unresponsive that they make me nervous. I married a man with a Taurus stationwagon and even convinced him to give it up and accept the VW way of life – I think it’s the insanely good mileage we get with our 1986 Golf. And the fact that no-one wants to steal the car, or give us a speeding ticket.

I learned on a stick and I still prefer them, but my current station wagon and van are both automatic.

I learned “stick” on a 1963 Fairlane with a three-on-the-tree. I’ve driven stick more or less since (when I had the choice). I currently drive a '92 LeMans 4spd., which is my first front-drive stick (I was a Volvo guy before). I’m so accustomed to stick now that I can barely drive an auto. Last time I borrowed my buddy’s Corolla automatic, I went for the clutch while accelerating hard, hit the brake, and narrowly avoided getting rear ended. Now I avoid them like the plague. Plus, if I end up with a dead starter, nearly dead battery, etc., at least I can push start the damn thing! Stick shifts forever!!

One more vote for a stick shift. I learned how to drive on one myself,and have always felt more in control of the vehicle when I was literally more in control of the vehicle. Maintenance costs,and frequency of maintenance are another plus. I have only owned one auto-trans(I think) and do agree with some of the benefits like being stuck in traffic. Another one is if you have to plow snow.Be damned with the maintenance costs,after your 242,704th shift in one night,I’ll take an automatic. Like Vertigo says when occassionally driving a friend’s or rental, or like when I worked for the Gummint,it takes a while to get used to them.To me,meaning when you automatically step on the non-exsistent clutch and hit the oversized brake pedal.Two sounds; a large screach from the pavement and a large screach from your passenger sitting next to you.

And Juniper,you brought back memories. Just before you hit a bustling freeway on-ramp, cue in “William Tell’s Overture.” And let the drive begin.

Love it! I used to have a write-me-up-red Porsche 944T, and would play stuff like Flight of the Bumblebee at high volume while driving mountain roads fast.

Now my second car is a '68 Plymouth Fury sedan with a big block V8, (old police car) and of course an automatic & unrefined as hell. Fun to drive, on its own terms, and eats import sports cars on the open highway for breakfast.