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Links of the Day:

– I got a call from my car dealer yesterday asking me if I want to get out of my lease six months early. The sales rep said there are great deals on Nissan Altimas.

“Sure,” I said. “As long as you have a stick shift.”

“We don’t. They don’t come in manual anymore,” the sales rep said and proceeded to list off other benefits of the new Altimas.

I cut her off. “It’s non-negotiable. I must have a stick shift.”

Stick shift cars account for an estimated 10 percent of the vehicles on the road and five percent of new car purchases. I’ve blogged about being part of an endangered species.

But there is hope!

Ford Motor Co. is expanding the availability of manual transmission cars and they’re selling  nicely. Some car makers are now advertising their stick shift models, targeting people who want a “pure driving experience.”

This news fills my heart with joy.

I will never, ever drive an automatic again. I love driving stick because the cars are cheaper, better on gas, deterrents to theft, require my full attention, easier to control and handle nicely in snow. Most important, they’re super fun.

Save the Manuals!

– There’s a reason auto dealers haven’t gone digital. The New York Times tells us how TrueCar.com is shaking up the industry.

– The communal gun is a growing phenomenon. I did a story in 2005 about a young man who was shot and killed by a gun kept under a parked car. It was a gun for “community use.” The New York Times reports the trend continues.

– Is there a better sports story right now than Jeremy Lin? I loved this column on his remarkable run.

7 Responses to Hope for Stick Shift Cars

  1. I used to be a no-automatic kind of guy. But my wife (who does share my car with me) developed a knee problem where using a clutch was just not an option. So when I bought my Miata I made (what I thought was) the ultimate sacrifice and got an automatic. You know what? I don’t miss it and here’s why:

    1) The Miata has an AWESOME automatic transmission. If I floor it it shifts at redline, if I take off normally it shifts where I would have shifted it. In short – the freakin thing reads me mind. It even lags the shift up when I lift the accelerator at the end of acceleration to help level the speed.

    2) Should I feel the need the Miata has a “manual mode” where I can shift myself at my own shift points using either paddles on the wheel, or pushing forward on the shift stick to shift up, backwards to shift down. This works suprisingly well, does not require you to rev the engine or mess with a clutch, and allows you complete control over shift points.

    In short – I am a convert. I know not all automatics are as good as the one in the Miata – but if they were I’d not buy another manual.

    PS I have a lovel 2001 manual transmission VW Passat with 4 snows, and 4 sport summer tires and wheels for sale if you want a manual transmission car….

  2. February 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm Carlos Mercado responds:

    The one and only time I do not like a stick is when I’m stopped at a light on a very steep hill and the driver behind me pulls up right behind me. Fortunately, this is not a huge problem in Rochester.

  3. I have a 1995 Nissan Maxima stick shift. I am the only owner, and I rarely use it during the winter. I get @30 MPG on a trip with it. I only had it in the shop twice, because I needed diagnostics on it. Finally, this year, I had the throwout bearing go on it, and while that was out, they recommended a new clutch. But that has been the only major repair. It has a cassette player…(-:

    I would like to get a new car, but this runs like a top since I properly maintain it. Besides that, on a similar new car, you have over $2500 in sales tax…
    That is a lot of gas money.

    But I agree with you Rachel. I grew up on a dairy farm, everything was shifted. I taught my nieces and nephews and neighbors how to use a manual transmission. Now they buy only manual transmission vehicles as well.

  4. February 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm Ben Campanelli responds:

    Stick shift a deterrent to theft? I’m thinking there would be a market for a cheap mock-up stick-shift rig to put over center consoles.

    Actually, all you have to do is put a Barry Manilow CD on the driver-side dashboard and no one will touch the car (Humperdinck, Sedaka, Liberace, any classical composer will also work quite well). Soon this will be a question for discounts on auto-insurance.

  5. Good news! Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and vw all have manual transmission modls.

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