“Save the Manuals!” is a relatively new battle cry from car enthusiasts who are afraid of the demise of the manual transmission. It is a valid concern, as less than three percent of new vehicles sold today have a manual transmission. Based on that stat, is it too late?
With more than 97% of new vehicles sold with an automatic transmission today, it is hard to justify engineering and building a manual transmission option. Automatic transmissions have come a long way from the two and three speed versions that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s.
Eight, nine and ten speed automatics are the norm in today’s cars. These automatics are really good, and provide better performance and economy than a row-it-yourself transmission. Even the newest version of the Chevrolet Corvette only comes with an automatic.
Just the same, there is something special about shifting your own gears. It allows you to be more engaged with your car and the road. This awareness and skill is about to die, unless someone does something about it.
National Stick Shift Day
A few years ago, new-vehicle listing site Cars.com created a national holiday to celebrate cars with manual transmissions each July 16th. They promote three activities for this new holiday:
- Learn how to drive a stick
- Get your hands on a manual (go buy one)
- Take yours out for a spin
Hagerty Insurance, known for their terrific collector car insurance and support of the car hobby, is also getting behind National Stick Shift Day. This year, they are kicking off a 50 day challenge to get 500 people trained to drive a manual transmission vehicle.
They are launching their mission with a training event at the Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, MI) today, and will keep the pedal to the metal until September 3rd. Hagerty is enlisting as many people as possible to help teach young drivers this new skill through a fun activity. Here is their proposal:
Spend an hour with someone who doesn’t know how to drive a manual—a family member, a friend or neighbor—and give them a lesson. Post a photo and we’ll send you two “3 pedals, no problem” hats.
Full details can be found HERE. They also include a handy “Manual Manual” to help you provide proper instruction to a new stick shift driver.
I still enjoy driving a stick, and have one in my MINI Cooper. I had another MINI with an eight speed automatic that performed better than my current one, but that’s not what this is about. Driving a stick connects you with your car. You are more engaged in the drive. You are part of the machine when you row your own gears. That’s why I am going to do two things:
- Teach a young driver how to drive my car
- Continue to support Hagerty Insurance’s car hobby programs
I created a special line of merchandise to bring awareness to manual transmissions. The coffee mug pictured above as well as several shirts can be found HERE in the Vehicle Nanny Merchandise Store. Every dollar earned goes to support youth automotive programs like this one with Hagerty Insurance and others. I hope you can find something fun in the store that supports these programs.