An Entire Generation Is Missing One of The Great Joys of Being a Car Enthusiast

Name....that.......shifter! Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove

This generation has been losing out a lot on manual transmissions. Fewer and fewer cars come with them. Fewer and fewer drivers know how to use them. But there’s another joy that’s fading away: the satisfaction of seeing a car parked across the street, walking over, looking in the window and discovering that the car is not an automatic (lame) but a manual (hell yes).

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I agree that not having manual transmissions available on new cars is a bummer for us as drivers. What a strange moment it was when you could get a Corolla with a third pedal but not a Porsche 911 GT3 a few years back. Again, this is a bummer for anyone in the market for a new or not-that-old car.

But the pleasure of discovery is not to be missed.

You see it on the other side of the parking lot. A BMW 530i. The E34 sedan with the 3.0-liter V8. It flashes across your mind as you take each step closer. It could be cool. It could be a dream. It could be the backroads cruiser of your wildest flights of fancy, if it, might it, could it really be...

Nah. Automatic. Dreams crushed. It’s a loafy car, living a life devoid of clutch kick u-turns and whatever other three-pedal mania you might desire.

A whole generation is being raised that’s not thinking about this distinction. Without even the possibility that, say, that Infiniti could even possibly come with a manual, there’s no hunt for the “good” ones with stick shifts.

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This isn’t the greatest woe facing car culture, but it’s distinct, and I feel ever stranger every time I cross the street to see if, oh man, that Aston Martin Vantage, that Subaru Legacy, could it be?

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About the author

Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.