“While I get the appeal of learning in a rental as you don’t need to worry about trashing the clutch, I feel like if it’s your own car it will teach you from the get go to be more cautious. Prior to actually getting a car with a stick shift I had had a few very short and uniformative times behinds the wheel of a few, never long enough to actually learn anything really.
“I finally taught myself how to drive stick on a project car I picked up at the start of covid, my 1974 Jensen Healey. I spent about 4-6 months fixing it up to get it to a point it was running and all the obvious mechanical faults had been sorted. With that much time invested in it I wanted to be very careful with it. I had a fair idea of how the whole manual transmission thing worked in theory but it was practice and clutch control I needed to iron out. I pushed it into my driveway and spent a few days just practicing getting it moving, going back and forth until I could do it smoothly and not stall the car.
“Then I committed to taking it on the road (kinda steep driveway, took 4 people and a running start to push it up into my garage when I got it). First time out I just circled my block in my area, stops signs only no real traffic one steep hill. Little by little I took it out farther and farther. The first day I decided to really take it out properly I talked my wife into coming along (this was a mistake), all was going well until it started overheating. Up to this point I had never driven it long enough for it to get hot enough to realize there was a cooling issue. So we had to abort and head home after it had cooled down a bit, trouble was the area we were in I only had three directions I could take to get us home quickly. One involved a very brief stint on the freeway (I had not taken it on the freeway yet) the other two involved pretty steep hills with stop lights on them, something I was still having trouble with.
“So on to the freeway we went, it was terrifying, I couldn’t get it up to freeway speed (later discovered carbs had gone out of sync) cars were swerving around us and honking and my wife was freaking out thinking we were about to die. Managed to limp home and get it back in the garage, she wouldn’t get back in it with me for several months until I had the car running better and my skills improved. And I did little by little at this point I am extremely confident driving it and the clutch that came with it still feels great according to folks I know who have been driving stick much longer. Last big learning experience I had with it was low speed driving when my wife drafted me to drive the San Diego public library’s new mascot in the San Diego Pride parade, car does not like moving at very low speeds so I had to drive the entire parade essentially with the clutch and man was that a work out. Best part of the whole event though was the parade came to a stop for a few minutes and we happened to be right next to protestors with megaphones telling everyone they were going to hell. When I really rev up the lotus 907 under the bonnet my car is extremely loud, will very easily set off car alarms so more then loud enough to drown them out and so I did and while I couldn’t hear them I could see people cheering and clapping us when I did.”
Rebuilding a vintage British sports car and then learning to drive stick in it. What an excellent few years you’ve had!