The automakers don’t make many cars with manual transmissions anymore. Manuals used to be popular but today most drivers prefer the ease of driving with an automatic doing the shifting. That being said, you still might want to purchase a car with a “stick shift.” Let’s take a closer look.
Old cars had them
There used to be a time when you didn’t have a choice; you either learned to drive a “stick-shift” or you didn’t drive at all. In 1941, General Motors changed that. This was the year that the first fully automatic transmission, the famous Turbo-Hydromatic, was offered on select Cadillac models. While it was a very expensive option, it made driving much easier and opened up the marketplace to those that were averse to stick shifts.
How common are they today?
Manual transmissions represent just a small fraction of the cars on the road today. In fact, just 4% of the annual auto sales in the US were manuals in 2012. This is pretty small number but it doesn’t mean that cars with manuals are about to go extinct. The 4% number isn’t likely to sink much further because a certain percentage of the driving public simply prefer cars with manual transmissions.
You can save money
Buying a used car? Here’s the good news. Manual transmission cars are generally less expensive than automatics. Why? Because few people today know how to drive a stick-shift, the demand for them is lower. In fact, this can be a bargaining chip when you’re buying used. Since manual cars tend to sit on dealer’s lots longer, you can tell the salesman that “You’d be more than happy to take that annoying manual car off their hand, if they’d just drop the price a little more.”
Manual transmission vehicles generally get better gas mileage, sometimes as much as 10-20%. This is because there is far fewer moving parts in a manual and no torque converter to rob power. Consulting on this article was Kim’s Chevrolet of Laurel, a local Chevrolet dealer in Laurel, MS. They explained to us that recent automatics have closed the gap between manuals and automatics in gas mileage but manuals still have the edge in most cases.
Some really cool cars only come with a manual transmission. If you ever decide to buy a vintage sports car, chances are very high that it has a standard transmission. Buying a collector car made before 1955, chances are it comes with a manual transmission too.
The fun factor
And there’s always the fun factor. Driving a stick shift car can be a lot of fun once you learn how to drive them. If you’ve only driven cars with automatic transmissions your entire life, you may not know the fun you’ve been missing. Here’s what it’s like: Driving an automatic somehow feels passive – like you’re just riding in the car instead of controlling it. With a manual, you actually feel like you’re part of the car.