Earlier today, our man Doug took on a tricky subject for young car enthusiasts everywhere: what do you do if you want to learn to drive stick, but don’t have access to a stick shift car?
There’s no good answer to this question, but the suggestion reader Earthbound and Down (whose name is a delightful reference to a great Super Nintendo game AND an HBO comedy) made is the one I agree with the most:
Here’s how I learned stick:
- Found a 2008 Civic Si I wanted to buy. Didn’t know how to drive stick.
- Went to the dealer, arranged for a test drive. Asked the dealer to drive me around in it; I paid attention to noises and feeling (in everything but the pedals, duh). Claimed I was too tired from my commute to drive even more.
- Bought the car the next day. My first real figuring-out of stick happened while driving to work. In bumper-to-bumper Chicago traffic. By the time I got to work, 45 miles down that highway, I had the general idea hammered out.
Clutch lasted all the way from when I bought it (19k) to when I sold it (119k).
If you know the theory of how a manual transmission operates (rotating masses, friction, transfer of momentum, etc.), it’s pretty easy to connect the dots, so long as you’re committed to learning.
Just buy the damn car. That’s it.
It’s what I did. I learned the basics by driving my father’s car (a C5 Z06!) a few times, but I didn’t get really good until I bought myself a five-speed Subaru WRX shortly after getting my first real-person job post-college. It took me about a month of driving it every day before I had it mastered.
Just buy the car. You’ll figure it out. Every car is different but the fundamentals are always the same. You’ll learn, by actually driving, what works and what doesn’t. Eventually it will become muscle memory, second nature. And odds are you probably won’t kill your clutch either.
Do it! Life’s too short to drive boring cars.
Congrats on your COTD win, Earthbound and Down! If Kenny Powers were here, he’d salute you.
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