One Jalopnik reader was so upset with the death of the manual transmission he decided to preserve a 5-speed shift pattern on his back. Here's what he's got to say about his permanent move. - Eds.
I love manual transmissions SO much that in February of this year, I went to Industrial Tattoo in Berkeley, Calif., and had the artist Max tattoo a 5-speed shift pattern on my back. Like any 20-ish-year-old guy, I had kicked the idea of getting a tattoo around for years, but I knew that I should wait until I had settled on a design that I was sure that I would love forever. Last winter, that moment of certainty struck me like a bolt of lightning.
I was reading an article about Volvo accident avoidance systems when I realized that I could no longer tolerate more extensive, more comprehensive and more experientially inhibitive technology in cars. Do things like double clutch automatics, traction control, and lane departure warnings really make cars better? I suppose by some metrics they do. But for these amenities we trade character; for luxury we surrender sensory experience; for comfort, we give up romance.
A while ago I read a poll (probably on Jalopnik) that showed that fewer and fewer people consider their cars "more than an appliance." I cannot tell you how sad I was to read this. One of my best memories is running out of my high school on a sunny Friday afternoon, jumping into my rusty '91 CRX Si, and rowing the gears up an on-ramp to the blasting sounds of Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" The more I watch the auto industry, the more clear it becomes that I am among the last generation to experience the pure driving joy of a four, five, or six on the floor. I wanted to memorialize that joy in a permanent way: on my own body.
I debated whether to send you these photos for a long time. I watched the C&D "save the manuals" campaign articles, the less-than-flattering Porsche Boxster Spyder review, and countless other "manual option deleted from this car" articles come and go before finally deciding to email you all at Jalopnik. I hope you enjoy them, and if you feel they are appropriate for your esteemed publication, share them (anonymously, please). Hopefully, all those who truly, fiercely, and fundamentally love the joy of driving can see that they are not alone in the sea of appliance-users.