How Did You Learn To Drive Stick?

Illustration for article titled How Did You Learn To Drive Stick?
Photo: Tim Boyle (Getty Images)

Most everyone who’s learned to drive a manual has a story about it. Whether it was an absolute disaster or a great success or somewhere in between, I’ve found that it’s one of those events people remember forever.


Now, I am not a competent manual driver. I learned back in 2017 with the intention of helping a friend road trip from Boston to Indianapolis for the Indy 500. That friend, they drove a manual. I thought I’d be a good pal and get my shit sorted out instead of just mooching a ride.

So, I asked a pal in my Formula SAE team if he would teach me. We met up in a meager school parking lot in North Austin, and I got behind the wheel of his Volkswagen Golf.

And I was awful. Just a disaster. A hot mess. I picked up the skills relatively quickly, but in that way you pick up facts while cramming the night before an exam. I was confident I could perform on some unintimidating roads and pray that I would cement my skills somewhere on the route to Indy.

As it turned out, I never drove. My friend, Remy, decided they were just going to knock out the entire drive in one day and a night. It was perfectly fine for my lazy ass, but the next time someone let me behind the wheel of their manual, it was at a Hyundai press event. Not great!

I still haven’t really mastered it. My education has been dragged out for years, which is embarrassing for a person that writes for a car blog. But, hell. I’ll get it at some point.

And I bet your stories are a lot more exciting than mine.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



As for the question - I honestly can’t remember where I learned to drive stick. Strange. It was either on a 95 rodeo, a 96 rav4 or a 91 XJ cherokee. The rodeo was kinda clumsy and rough. The rav4 was pretty easy to drive minus the total lack of power, the XJ was a breeze because of long throws, a soft clutch and lots of low end torque. I remember having to use the handbrake on hill starts for a long time. Man I want a manual again.