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Loving the stick

Peters laments the slow passing of the manual tranny at the behest of the Überstadt.

You might think manual transmissions are unwanted, given that few new cars – including a number of high-performance cars, such as the new Corvette – even offer them.

Isn’t that a reflection of the market?

It’s more a reflection of the government – which has, in its usual oily way, imposed a de facto ban on manual transmission by imposing regulations that are harder to comply with if a given car hasn’t got an automatic (and increasingly, a CVT automatic) transmission. Readers of this column already know why that is, but for those not yet hip:

Manuals – being controlled by the driver – cannot be programmed to shift through the gears in a way best matched to passing the tests that grade compliance with government regulations, especially those having to do with mandatory MPG minimums. This is why – if you’ve driven a new or new-ish car with an automatic – you may have noticed the transmission tries to upshift to the next-highest gear sooner than you probably would have if you were controlling the shifts via a manual gearbox. It is why the latest/newest automatics have eight, nine and even ten speeds. The last several of these being “stepped” overdrive gears that are there to cut engine revs as much (and as soon) as possible, so as to eke out an extra 2-3 MPGs on the government’s “fuel efficiency” tests.

On paper.

Out in the real world, those gains are often lost – because out in the real world, upshifting too soon and too deep (into overdrive) results in sluggish acceleration and drivers will compensate for that by pushing down harder on the accelerator pedal, forcing a downshift. This of course results in more fuel being used.

But hey, the car advertises higher gas mileage!

And – of course – the car company has made the government happy.

But manuals still make more people than you might expect happy. The problem is finding a new car that still offers one.

Doesn’t much matter, I suppose. We’ll all soon be burning to death in the auto-igniting EVs we’ve been forced into, if Big Mommy goobermint has its way with us. Which, y’know, it will. Not that I’m exactly all in on the old stick-shifts, mind, now that I’m minus one (1) clutching leg and all. For me, it’s become a binary solution set: auto-trans, or stay the hell at home.


3 thoughts on “Loving the stick

  1. I’m not sure this dude knows anything about cars.
    Why the opposition to a continuously variable transmission, if it works?

    The new Corvette doesn’t offer a manual. Chevy says it’s because no one is buying them, low sales volume is not worth it. Recent years were <20% of sales. And, lets be truthful, you can’t do it as well as the computer anyway. Are there other reasons, say keeping the center backbone intact? Yes, of course. But the overriding reason is the consumer wants the auto.

    Do the engineers try to eke out max fuel economy? Of course. Do they respond to government mandates? Of course. Does that prohibit the engineer from engineering a performance mode? No.

    Hey, and one legged bloggers, even the greatest one, need the auto 🙂

  2. If I was slinging a Ferrari, a ‘Vette, or my old trusty 3-speed 69 ‘stang through the curves at Willow Springs, a manny trans would be on the wish list.

    Driving in SoCal average traffic, it’d be torture by multiple leg-breaking clutch-leg cramps. Fuck that.

    Hell, man, I learned on manuals, and stuck with ’em until some fucktard bitch killed my 4WD Cherokee in ’01.

    But now? If it ain’t automatic, I’m not driving it.

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