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Mini Is 'Saving the Manuals' With a School to Teach People How to Drive Them

While the school isn't the first of its kind, it is the first manual driving school to be offered by an automaker.

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Manual transmissions have been on a slow death march for years, with a “will they, won’t they” vibe more intense than an on and off again relationship. Today, about 30 models still offer buyers the ability to row their own gears. While that might sound like a lot, it really isn’t. The fact is that no one wants to drive manuals anymore, and they also don’t know how to operate them. Handy enough to at least stop vehicle thefts. So, Mini has taken it upon itself to try to keep the manual alive. Mini brought back the manual transmission as an option for some of its models. Now it’s opening a school to teach people how to drive them.

Mini’s manual driving school will be an extension of BMW’s Performance Center West, located in Thermal, California. The automaker says the school will allow manual drivers to sharpen their driving skills and also aim at teaching a new generation of drivers how to operate a standard transmission. It all culminates at the end with a timed course to assess a driver’s knowledge and operation of the vehicle.


This isn’t the first school that offers to teach drivers how to operate a manual transmission, especially not in Southern California. One of the bigger manual driving schools is called Stick Shift Driving Academy. There are locations all over the country. Hagerty also offers a two-hour manual driving school where students learn on classics. However, the Mini manual school does look to be the first offered by a major automaker.

It’s cool to see any automaker, including Mini put forth efforts to keep the manual alive. It’s also a fairly smart move too. Think about it. Train drivers on a manual, on your vehicle, and at the end of the day, they may just buy it. Brilliant.