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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

Posted October 05, 2021 4:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: Manual Transmission

I hear somebody, maybe Volkswagen, has announced the end of manual transmissions—with other manufacturers almost certain to follow suit. Honestly, I don't care much.

Any development on new cars is only of peripheral interest to me. I’ll likely never buy a new car. If I did, it would be some kind of roomy, economical family hauler—not a sports machine (the kind my colleague Mark McCourt insists need three pedals). The manual transmission has been extinct in family vehicles for a long while now. I'd much rather spend my money on something like a 1940s De Soto Suburban anyway.

The newest car I’ve personally owned was the 1993 Ford Escort I had from 2001 to 2009. I replaced it with a ’61 Ford Falcon and have largely tried to stick with stuff of ’60s or older vintage ever since. Largely, I’ve also sought out manual transmissions in these older vehicles, though my current car (foreseeably a long-term keeper) has a Powerglide automatic.

Manual transmissions are like every other manual item of the 20th century that has been automated: air-fuel mixture, spark advance, heck, even staying in your own lane and not tailgating people. Satisfying to those of us that enjoy extracting fine control from a machine, but mostly just an irritation to the average new-car buyer who seems to view driving itself as a major inconvenience anymore. Expecting 21st century, multinational corporations to cater to the enthusiast is a pipe dream. Why not ask for access to their proprietary software while you’re at it?

Better to stick with old cars and create your own reality. They’re not going anywhere, barring draconian legislation that bans driver-operated vehicles from the roads. Even if gasoline goes away, enthusiasts have already started exploring dozens of ways to repower old cars.

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#1

Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/05/2021 9:08 AM

As we scrap over 100 years of development and go electric, we won't need any transmission, manual or automatic.

I still like stirring the old gearbox.

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#8
In reply to #1

Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/06/2021 6:05 PM

How am I going to keep my left leg strong?

I like the positive control aspect of manual transmissions. I decide when to shift based on the conditions or whether I am in "sport mode" or "economy mode". I don't need no stinking button. I like that manual transmissions give better engine braking as a lot of torque converters tend to over-run to improve rolling efficiency. I guess dual clutch automatics with paddles still have a 'solid' connection between the engine and wheels, but . . . .

. . . and as others have said, today's automatics, while quite good, are not as reliable as a manual box.

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#2

Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/05/2021 9:39 AM

If your transportation needs are utilitarian in nature, then an automatic transmission is the likely choice...If on the other hand you have very little need of transportation and your driving is largely for enjoyment and distraction, then a manual transmission is usually the choice....The electric cars become boring very quickly and will likely spawn a return to the manual shifting sports car for a number of people and the legions of enthusiasts will grow once again...

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#3
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Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/05/2021 3:05 PM

You are assuming a free market driven by supply and demand...

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/05/2021 3:53 PM

Do you really think this picture is going to change much in the next 20 years?

Largest users....

India

China.....

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#5
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Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/05/2021 4:11 PM

Think about it if you are using fossil fuels to produce the electric for the cars you are robbing Peter to pay Paul, people will catch on that they are spending all that money to move the pollution from point A to point B....and the jig will be up as they say...

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#7
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Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/06/2021 12:31 PM

20yrs? Maybe

I just remember my first computer experience in 1969. We had a state-of-the-art IBM high school grade computer. It filled a medium sized classroom with it's card punch machines, card reader, printer and actual processor console desk. It had a bigger than an LP record x 1" thick hard disc. It was a whomping 64 kilobyte machine. +/- 10 years later the first Apples and Commodores were available. +/- 25 years later the HP laptops were common. Now, +/- 50years, a minor software/hardware glitch at a social media company, that until the 1990's flat couldn't exist shuts down 20% of the entire Worlds business for the better part of a day. What I am saying is when it comes to present state technology predicting the future time line of events you could be just as right to use an Ouji Board.

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#6

Re: Why the Death of the Stick Shift is Almost Irrelevant to the Classic Car Scene

10/06/2021 10:33 AM

For decades I read and experienced somewhat better fuel economy with a manual transmission in a car compared to an automatic. But a lot of that also depended on the driver's actions. Is there more recent data (within last 10-15 years) about this? I personally prefer a manual because of lower rebuild costs, less parts, and knowing that few people can drive it so it is less likely to be stolen. In addition, I just don't have blind trust in the electronics!

--JMM

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