Car Time – June 2022

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Do You Still Drive or Own A Manual Transmission Vehicle?

    I highly doubt more than 20% of you will say yes to still driving or owning a manual transmission vehicle. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you are in that 80-90% pool of “no.”
    Manual transmission (MT) refers to a vehicle with three pedals (clutch, brake, accelerator) and a stick shift. You drive having to manually shift/change your vehicle’s gears, as opposed to the car automatically doing it for you.
    There was a time when manual transmission was referred to as “standard.” In those days, most vehicles had manual transmissions, as opposed to the present demographic of automatic transmission (AT) ownership. If you wanted an automatic back then, it cost you more to purchase because that option was considered a luxury.
    Automatic transmissions didn’t take off until the mid to late 20th century. Around that time, point A to B vehicles started adopting automatic transmissions as a convenience item for consumers. As those of us who know would attest, being stuck in traffic and having to push a clutch in and gently release it to move a few feet in traffic wasn’t fun.
    That’s not to say driving manual transmission vehicles in general can’t be fun. Doing so is especially engaging, having its own feel in a sports car. Still, it is a chore when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
    As more vehicles filled the roads, congestion started getting worse and for a lot of people spending that extra money on an automatic just made sense.
    From that point forward, manual transmission became more synonymous with sports cars. Automatics made life easier on the road, but they were still sluggish when compared with a sports car.
    During the 2000s, Dual Clutch Transmissions (DCT), a type of manual automatic hybrid, became mainstream and offered better performance on sports cars by providing a quick shifting quality. Soon after, some conventional torque converter automatics were designed to shift almost as quick as DCTs.
    Automatic transmissions today are a far cry from those first developed. Manual transmissions have become a dying breed. Nevertheless, many vehicles with a manual transmission are desirable and worth more than their automatic versions because driving one provides such a rewarding feeling.
    If you know how to drive one, or even own a manual transmission vehicle, you are a part of an unofficial club. And you just might be familiar with the smell of a burnt clutch from someone learning to drive one.

Xavier Estrada can be reached at xavier@orindaclassiccarcenter.com.

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