Yes, You're Right To Love Manual Transmissions

People who decry manuals as the only path to automotive salvation are snobby and exclusionary. That doesn't mean there aren't a hundred good reasons why manuals are better than paddle shitters. Excuse me, shifters.

Our very own Travis Okulski pointed out just how hard-headed bitter members of the Stick Shift Or Die Club are today in his post 'A Manual Transmission Is Not The Only Way To Enjoy A Car And You Need To Deal With It'. Matt Farah, of The Smoking Tire and Drive's TUNED pointed out that no, he didn't have to "deal with it," thank you very much.

Matt:

Travis, you say, "They say that it isn't pure, it isn't as much fun, they don't feel connected." and then you immediately go on to talk about faster lap times, but you fail to notice that you've already made the point for the manual transmission. It's not as fast as the dual-clutch in the GTR, but when you say that "They" say it isn't as pure, as much fun, and you aren't as connected, "They" are absolutely fucking correct. Ever driven a Manual transmission Ferrari F430? I have, and it was incredible. There are few things in the world more blissful than blipping your own downshifts while heel-toeing in a car like that, knowing that, with practice, you can do damn near as good a job as a computer, even if marginally slower. How about a Manual R34 Skyline? I drove that too, and it's so much more fun than a new GTR, even the 1100 HP Switzer GTR, I can't even begin to explain it.

Sure, if your ultimate goal at a HPDE track day is to set the best lap time you possibly can, a paddle box will help with that. But I know so few people that use track days for anything but fun, what's the point? Furthermore, unless you're buying a dedicated track car, your car will spend 99% of the time on the street, where those tenths of a second saved by the transmission will mean absolutely nothing, and you will have a car that feels less involved and will ultimately be less satisfying to drive.

Travis:

I haven't gotten those opportunities, unfortunately. Wish I had. Don't get me wrong, I daily drive a car with a manual, I love a good manual, and a great downshift is orgasmic.

But there is a lot of attitude that people without a manual trans in their cars aren't worthy of the title of enthusiast, those are poser cars, and that a manual is the only transmission to have to have fun. I'm tired of that.

I've had plenty of fun in cars with flappy paddles. I think the difference is that a good double clutch is awesome. A crap manual is infuriating (and yes, a lot of older paddles are terrible too).

Matt:

As someone who owns a first-generation paddle shift car, I understand that last sentence all too well. I've, on many occasions, considered actually spending the $30,000 to convert my 2003 Vanquish to a manual because the transmission really is as terrible as everyone says it is.

I understand people's attitudes about how paddle-shifted cars are for poseurs, and, for the most part, I don't agree with them. Some paddle transmissions are excellent (the M3, Porsche PDK, 458, and McLaren come to mind), but at the same time the argument you use for those transmissions is more about lap times and less about fun. In fact, you don't use the word "fun" once in a positive manner towards a paddle transmission, and when I'm on a canyon road or at the race track, I'm there to have fun, not to try to impress approximately no one with my lap times.

Furthermore, as someone who owns an old paddle shift car, I am REALLY in favor of manuals. Why? They never get old. Computing power doubles what, every three years? In a car, I don't want it to be as outdated as my computer is in three years. My Vanquish is a fucking dinosaur, and feels it every time I turn the key. Ferrari 355 F1's are nightmares and depressingly slow to shift. But a manual is a manual for all eternity, and will never become an "old-tech" version of itself.

Travis:

I'm more against the elitist social aspect than the "engagement." I do agree, manuals are more engaging.

The point is that I'm fed up with the idea that people that can't/don't drive manuals aren't worthy of being enthusiasts. A lot of people hold manual driving skill above other drivers like kids on a playground. "I can do something you can't so I'm better."

That's the sort of thing I'm tired of.


I won't leave their argument aside, but I will personally stay out of it, because I think Model T transmissions are cool, and they're one of the most willfully difficult-to-use gearbox designs ever put into production, but leave your own thoughts in Kinja below.

Photo Credit: Porsche