February 28, 2007
Originally published March 29, 2006
I learned to drive on a stick-shift. About half the cars I've owned in my life were manual transmission models. I'm damn sure no stranger to a clutch and I still enjoy stirring the gearbox by hand when I drive. That's another skill like swimming or riding a bicycle--- if you ever learn to drive a manual transmission vehicle, you never forget how.
Unfortunately for the human race, I can name at least a dozen people I know who have NEVER driven a vehicle with a manual transmission. NEVER! Give them a REAL gear shift and a clutch pedal on the floor and these poor souls are fucked. They can't drive the car. And that's a cryin' shame.
Some cars just aren't BUILT for an automatic transmission. Take Recondo 32's Shelby Ford Mustang, for example. That car has a souped-up, short-block V-Eight with enough horsepower to fling your ass from the front seat into the back seat if you're not buckled up securely upon take-off. Putting an automatic transmission in THAT rocket would be akin to cutting the nuts off a very horny goat. The goat may not LOOK much different after the operation, but he damn sure ain't what he used to be.
Besides--- everybody ought to know how to drive a stick-shift just.... because. I've NEVER driven a vehicle with an automatic transmission that was as much FUN to drive as a stick, and I've never felt as "one" with a car as when I've downshifted on a curve and sped on squealing tires around it, feeling the g-forces press me against the seat. That's really DRIVING a car instead of just being on board steering.
I have a sneaky feeling that a lot of people don't know the difference anymore. Besides, if everybody had to operate a clutch to drive a car today, how the hell would they manage to keep a cell phone pressed to their heads all the time? Bejus! They need that clutch-hand free to press their speed-dial numbers. What good is driving if you can't talk on the phone while you do it?
Which brings me to my Poll Question for the week: Can YOU drive a car with a standard transmission? If so, DO you drive one today?
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