GEAR | Manual Gearbox


Photo of a gearshift on 1953 Ferrari 340 MM; woman driving a sports car by Ed Eckstein, 1980.

Growing up, both my parents drove stick and it always intrigued me. There's a certain control, power, and synchronicity that a manual transmission car provides its driver, unmatched by anything automatic. Learning how to drive stick can be embarrassing and frustrating (especially for the teacher), but once you have it down, you really own your car. My husband used to drive a stick car before we were married, and let me tell you, it was a big selling point. Do you drive stick? Have you ever?

47 comments:

secretfragileskies said...

always/only

Keely (Sky Blue) said...

My guy friends taught me on back roads and abandoned rodeo grounds in high school. I must have stalled their respective vehicles fifty times but I (sort of) learned by fire. That was a few years ago and I haven't driven stick since until the other day when I drove a hay truck for my brothers, who were hauling hay. It was tricky because the truck was a huge old Chevrolet bucket of rattling bolts and I had to line up the side loader with each bale at the same time, but honestly it was so fun. Now driving automatic seems boring!

Clio said...

No one in Europe (well Ireland at least!) learns on an automatic... It doesn't make sense, though it makes learning to drive much harder for us than American kids! I'm planning on driving this year but it's so complicated it's daunting!

Jenny said...

i am from europe so it is the "standard" here. i have actually never driven an automatic, but it seems kinda boring.

random article said...

Once getting past the embarrassment and frustration of learning, I don't ever want an automatic again. It doesn't even seem like driving a stick and driving an automatic are the same activity. I even prefer 6-speeds to 5-speeds because you get to shift more often.

pinkshirtsandcarwrecks said...

I learned to drive on a stick! My parents made me and I'm so glad. I don't have a car now, but that skill certainly comes in handy.

Meg said...

My parents both drove stick so that's how I learned, so that's what I drive (and vastly prefer to drive). More control, more fun, plus it's sexy.

Laurel Canyon said...

Stick is the best, though I wrecked my car learning to drive it in high school since no one properly explained you have to go THRU all the lower gears. So I pulled out onto a FL expressway in front of a semi truck in 3rd gear. Oh well.
They aren't good for slow traffic creeps like LA freeways, though, too much gear handling.

Amanda said...

Yes, I do... and I love it! It's not practical in the city, but man oh man on an open road? It's the best!

I learned by necessity when Josh had a stick shift Jetta back when we just graduated from college. Still comes in handy when we travel outside the US, since rental cars elsewhere are generally manual! One day, I'll have a sports car of my own...

GiGi said...

I learned to drive on a stick too. And it's all I drive. Love it!

K said...

I used to drive a VW Caddy pick up truck, and loved it until some woman totaled it with her mini-van (still bitter...). It was stick shift, and I felt so hot shifting gears. Now I drive my husbands manual Jetta and get the same rush.

Morgan, Hi! said...

Oh, it was so painful to learn, but I am so glad my mum bought both my brother and I manuals for our first car so we *had* to know how to drive stick shift. I get bored driving automatics now.

Andrea said...

My dad wouldn't teach me to drive unless I learned stick! I drive an automatic now but I always loved my first little toyota truck so much!

Rebecca said...

I drive a stick shift (or manual as we say in Australia) and I love it! You always know where you are and what is going on. I agree that driving an auto is totally boring.

But learning to do it is HARD. I learned in a hand-me-down 1979 Toyota Corolla, called Emily. The lack of power steering added to the stresses of learning to right-hand turn across traffic from a hill-start! Eek! I'm proud I know how though.

Anonymous said...

This is so embarrassing - I've never learned to drive. I tried to learn on stick (my dad always has driven stick only; my brother - my only sibling - as well). I'm in my 30s and in a city where I never have to learn - it is madness to drive here. But I can't feel - and can't really be - a woman with tomboy style if I don't do it, right? (...thus using the anon feature).

LPC said...

That's how I learned, and that's how I drove until I had my second child...

penny said...

Always, only also. Have taught my two boys also. The older one describes me as someone who prefers to drive manual. I think they get it.

La Fille mal Gardée said...

I refuse to drive anything else. Thank heavens my mother refused to teach me on an auto. I love it.

Jen said...

I feel like a badass when I drive stick, but in LA, it just makes for headaches...and knee aches.

Kionon said...

No/Yes.

I can drive a stick, but I hant owned one in a while.

Jeleo said...

I drive stick, but I´m from Europe, over here it is nothing special. And really, it is easy to learn if you avoid pushing the stick abruptly.

weaser said...

all of our farm vehicles were stick - and old school, so i would have to stand on the clutch while working the gears. but still tons of fun to drive! ;)

Erin said...

But of course. My manual is MUCH more fun than an automatic. The dealerships just couldn't understand why I insisted on a stick. Nuts to them.

Sheila said...

i dont think i'll ever master stick! great photos!

http://shayyyyy.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hard to learn, but once you do you can drive any car. This came in handy one time when my friend & I drove to Boston. We left really late & about an hour into the drive, he asked me to take over because he was getting really sleepy. Good thing I knew stick because that's what he drove & I was able to get us home.

Anonymous said...

I had always driven auto until my job required me to drive manual utes. Learning to drive stick in a ute was one of the most stressful and exhausting moments in my life. But, I love driving stick now and I always get a kick out of seeing the looking on construction workers' faces when they see a petite young woman driving a Nissan Navara.

401 said...

I want to learn how to drive stick. My boyfriend does and he says he'll never drive an automatic ever again.

CeeCee said...

Here in the UK everyone learns stick. If you have to "downgrade" to an automatic then expect a lot of stick* about being a rubbish driver!

*excuse the bad pun!

Anonymous said...

I begged to drive stick. My Dad taught me in a little yellow Toyota truck.. He said he didn't know why I would want to drive something more difficult , but he was secretly proud.. I live in San Francisco and that means hills and lots of parallel parking. Pride myself on being able to not slide back on the hills. I think that in an emergency not being able to drive a stick is a real liability

Northmoon said...

I learned how to drive in my mother's TR3 sports car - stick of course!

When I bought my last car, a 2008 VW City Golf, I waited two months for a manual shift. Love to drive a standard !

Anonymous said...

I drive a z 4 bmw and it keeps me in touch with the road.
being over 60 it brings up the ? how long can I keep this up.
performance cars add a spark to driving I encourage
you readers to take it on.

Raquelita said...

Well said! I grew up in Malaysia and England and sticks (or manuals, as they are called there) are the norm. It was such a shock to move to the States and realize it is possible to get a license without ever learning to drive a stick! As you say, there is so much more control and power (both real and metaphorical) with sticks. And the fuel economy relative to an automatic is an added benefit.

HalfPint said...

I love driving stick. I've had 4 separate cars that were manuals, but my favorite was my 1967 Volkswagen Rabbit in bright yellow that my uncle loaned me the first summer I lived on Cape Cod. Pure love.

mbick said...

Love driving a stick shift!
I bought my first car, a '66 VW bug, before I knew how to drive a standard shift. My best friend drove it from the seller to a school parking lot and explained the rudiments.
When I bought a motorcycle off the showroom floor, I didn't know how to operate it so my boyfriend took me to an empty mall parking lot and gave me a lesson.

Little Wolf said...

I bought a brand-new manual transmission car without knowing how to drive stick, because it was cheaper than an automatic transmission. Needless to say, I had to teach myself.

This knowledge came in handy 6 years later, when I bought my first motorcycle.

jordan said...

I learned how to drive stick when I was about 13. Strictly out of boredom. My older guy cousins thought it would be funny. But now it's great that I know how!

Karelys (Beltran) Davis said...

if anyone know how to get those gloves please tell me!!

AJ said...

yes. my parents graciously let me teach myself in my high school parking lot. i've always loved driving a manual, even in midtown Washington DC traffic.

apparently, it was also listed on my husband's "sexy skills for a woman to know", which he told me after we were married.

ELM said...

I learn't in a manual car on my Honeymoon- five months pregnant, driving up the East Coast of Australia. And was told that there are two types of people in the world- Drivers and steerers, depending on whether or not you can drive a manual car. Just found your blog and like,like, like. xxxx

Anonymous said...

First vehicle I ever drove was a combine. I was four. How's that for tomboy ;)

Anonymous said...

I drive stick and will continue to until my old and crotchety and the DMV takes my license away. I learned when I was 14 from my dad on what would be my first car (a 1966 vw beetle), and consider myself, by default, a better driver than anyone who drives automatic; simply because of the control I have over my vehicle.

kristin said...

driving stick is THE BEST. but trust me, when you 'get old(er)' --i'm 43--and drive miles & miles for work each day, they aren't as de rigeur. i plan to get one day get a 2nd car for weekends & it WILL be a stick!

Lily said...

I learned to drive using my Dad's Fiat 500, 3 speed stick, in our back yard. When it came time to take my driver's test the Fiat broke down. I had to use my girlfriend's parents' car, a 4 speed stick shift Renault Dauphine which I had never driven before. I passed.

Guillaume said...

Always driving a manual car, more fun and more power. In a car country as USA is too bad that people are driving automatic gearbox...

quietandsmalladventures said...

i've only driven stick since i learned to drive. yes it was a bit of a pain in DC traffic, but i still kept driving my manual jeep. as long as i drive a car i own (you can't rent manuals in the US anymore), it will be stick. one day i might be the only 80+ grandma driving stick and i will love it. even more if it's a jeep.

Ms. Scotch said...

It's all I have driven, tho my manfriend and I just bought out first automatic. I hate it, but he has to drive around LA every day for work and it really makes a huge difference to to be in first all the time : )

Casey Creates said...

I LOVE driving stick! It's the best!