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The manual transmission is a right of passage, passed down from the generations before. For many, it was taught in an abandoned parking lot or an empty field. The selected location typically offers a speck of security to our father who has provided the sacrificial clutch needed to complete this ritual of learning. The statement above may sound like something found in the Old Testament, but the popularity of the manual transmission may indeed be more spiritual than people realize.
Manual transmissions are quickly becoming obsolete and are no longer used in most automobile applications. However, manuals haven’t died just yet. Truthfully, I doubt they ever join the list of completely extinct automobile components. There is something special about operating a manual transmission compared to driving a vehicle fitted with an automatic transmission. Could this be a spiritual link between man and vehicle?
Unlike the automatic, the manual transmission offers a linkage from the human mind and body to the mechanical beast we are trying to tame. You can feel the RPMs through the vibrations of the shift handle as it tells you, and you alone — no computers — when to shift into the next gear. The power inherent in wielding that control may be the real reason the manual transmission refuses to die.
Is It Big Tech vs Old School?
Through years of automotive design and construction, many parts and components have been surrendered to more advanced options. This includes everything from the tread pattern on your tires to the LED bulbs inside your Bluetooth stereo system. These advanced options also include major components such as engine and transmission upgrades.
As we learn new and better ways to do things, our cars inherit new and exciting parts and systems. One of those new systems was the automatic transmission. The ability to press your singular foot down and propel the car forward without the need to manually change gears was revolutionary at its inception.
As time ticked by, the technology of automatic transmissions has vastly improved and surpassed many records held by manual transmissions. Convenience now reigns supreme in modern automobile options. Automobile manufacturers began removing the manual option from their lineups in the past decade. There are a dwindling number of supercar manufacturers that still offer a vehicle with a manual transmission.
A surprising number of exotic car enthusiasts still enjoy the connection with their vehicle and the sense of control offered by a manual transmission. The old school tech of a manual transmission still excites many drivers and is still preferred over the slight inconvenience of manual shifting.
The old school tech of a manual transmission still excites many drivers and is still preferred over the slight inconvenience of manual shifting.
Even big tech has tried to produce an illusion of the manual transmission by offering paddle shifters to try and simulate the unmistakable excitement of changing gears. And they are somewhat popular. Big tech may be advancing in the battle of the transmissions, but it hasn’t won the war just yet.
Could It Be a Battle Between Drivability vs Rideability?
When it comes to rideability, the automatic decimates its competitor. The driver still has responsibilities, but the need to shift gears is no longer a concern. In heavy stop-and-go traffic, this is a lifesaver. You can focus on the road and have one less task to complete. However, in driveability, the vehicle driver loses a fun and engaging manner of controlling an important aspect of the ride experience.
Those who never learned to operate a manual transmission do not know this feeling; they never formed this mysterious connection between man and metal beast — nothing was gained and so nothing was lost. Most drivers want the comfort and convenience of an automatic and couldn’t care less about some piece of outdated tech they never mastered in the first place.
It’s Ultimately About Connection and Control
Ultimately, what keeps manual transmissions alive in the automotive world are the two factors of connection and control. The feeling of control afforded the driver is what makes that otherworldly and inexplicable connection between the driver and the car. To true manual transmission aficionados, the current automatic transmissions that do our thinking for us in the name of convenience cannot possibly offer the same rush.
Those command-and-control drivers feel that surrendering control for convenience is akin to the surrender of Lee before Grant — “I would rather face a thousand deaths…” is said to be the words uttered by Lee just before arriving at Appomattox Courthouse, VA. Simple motorists are content to ride along with less effort than their forefathers, even in a modern supercar. But they cannot possibly know the exhilaration of old-school gear-slamming, tire-screeching from a big-block muscle car. Alas, some things are only found now in cherished memories.
How about you? Do you know the spiritual connection of driving a manual transmission? There are still some supercars available with a manual transmission. Are you ready for your next exotic car? Is a manual transmission high on your list of “must-haves” for any supercar? iLusso can help you locate the perfect new exotic ride. Contact us today for assistance.
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