I first learned to drive in a car with a manual transmission. A friend of mine had an ancient SAAB and offered to teach me how to drive. After a few lurches-particularly when trying to get the car moving while in first gear, I began to get the hang of it. Since that time, I have been committed to driving manual transmission cars, e.g. a stick shift.
I still drive the first car I ever bought, a bright red SAAB with a now well-worn manual transmission. All of my children grew up driving manual transmission cars and had to take their driving tests using a stick shift. A few months ago, the car one of my sons was driving completely broke down and needed to be replaced. So, I was understandably proud when he insisted that he would only consider buying a new car that came equipped with a manual transmission.
Unfortunately, finding a new car with a manual transmission is much harder than it used to be. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, only approximately 7% of cars or light trucks sold in the United States in 2014 were equipped with a manual transmission. The number is expected to fall further as manufacturers of high end sports cars, a bastion of stick shift enthusiasts, increasingly abandon manual transmissions for hybrid automatics with finger or thumb paddles. Car buyers are simply not interested in having to physically shift gears while driving and most young people have not learned how to use a stick shift.
Years ago, I could argue that cars with manual transmissions had better fuel economy but that is no longer true as modern automatic transmissions keep the engine in the most efficient spot. The only justification to drive a manual transmission is that they are just more fun to drive. For me, and other enthusiasts, downshifting around a corner, and the active engagement with the road makes the driving experience much more enjoyable. Fortunately, a few car manufacturers still make some cars with manual transmission-usually entry level vehicles. That was fine with my son. Although color selections were quite limited he is now the proud owner of sweet car with a six speed manual transmission.