Automatic vs. stick-shift

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby fennel » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:52 pm

I hear that driving stick in Britain is an interesting challenge if you've learned here.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Galoot » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:58 pm

I managed it on a weekend trip from Galway around the local countryside. The shifting wasn't even close to being the main issue--making turns at uncontrolled intersections was the bit that had me shaking and sweating, to the point where I pulled over for a few minutes to calm down.

But I just realized my experience might be completely irrelevant, since I'm somewhat ambidextrous, and switching left-right stuff doesn't bother me as much as it does others.

I was going to make the next joke myself, but why steal you peoples' thunder? After all, the shortest distance between two puns is a straight line, as any geometry teacher will tell you.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby david cohen » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:37 pm

I learned stick on an old Kharman Ghia. It was pretty forgiving. Then i spent some time in India and drove an Ambassador with 3 on a tree. That was almost too much for a westerner to handle- the traffic, not the tranny. I've made my son learn on a stick shift because you never know when you'll have to drive one in an emergency. Plus, it forces them to think about actually operating the vehicle and not look at other stuff (girls, boys, faster cars etc.).Only have to teach 2 more!

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:06 pm

david cohen wrote:I learned stick on an old Kharman Ghia.

No shit! So did I. A Navy buddy had one he purchased in Mississippi, when he was stationed with the Seabees. At that time Mississippi was a non-title state, so his proof of owernship was a "contract" written on the back of an envelope. Brakes failed while we were driving to D.C. from Norfolk, going to an anti-war demonstration. It was either for the Moretorium or after Cambodia/Kent State (we went to both). It's written up in my buddy's book.

Anyways, rookie stick driver me is behind the wheel when the brakes went out at a stop light. A motorcycle was in front of us. I yanked the emergency/parking brake and it somehow held. But it made a hell of a screeching sound. The biker turned around, with a look of terror on his face. Missed him by that much. No harm, no foul.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:14 pm

I learned stick on an old Kharman Ghia. It was pretty forgiving. Then i spent some time in India and drove an Ambassador with 3 on a tree.

Here's another one, only my Karmann Ghia was a 59 VW (same vehicle, different body). Great car to learn on, great car to take your driver's test in and pass parallel parking. (They were so light that yes, you could stop them with the emergency brake. They were also good in the snow.) My own first car was a 64 Dodge with three on the tree. I don't think anybody under 40 would know how to drive that thing today.

My present car is a stick, too. I'll be sad if they quit making them because I like the sound. I'm pretty sure you can still start them by popping the clutch, though I haven't tried that in a while.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby jman111 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:56 pm

Ok, all these references to old 3 speeds has me wondering. Did any of yours have a manual choke like my Falcon?

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:59 pm

jman111 wrote:Ok, all these references to old 3 speeds has me wondering. Did any of yours have a manual choke like my Falcon?

Had one in a Mazda GLC (also a 3 speed). A pain in the ass. Hated that car.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Ducatista » Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:20 pm

Galoot wrote:I thought the percentage was more like 14% of new cars in the U.S., but who knows. It's a tiny percentage, and isn't it the reverse in Europe and most other places?

Dunno about all of Europe, but stick is definitely the norm in the Benelux, GAS, & Spain. My first summer in NL, our Dutch office rented a car for my stay. My predecessor couldn't drive stick, so they assumed the same for me. Unfortunately, the only automatic they could find was:


Everyone at the office thought it was QUITE hilarious. Happily, I'd learned to drive on a 70s Duster 3-speed (on the floor, though I also drove my friend's 3-on-the-tree), so I was able to trade in the Peptomobile for a sporty black Fiat.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby klambake » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:20 pm

My dad tried to teach me how to drive a manual when I was a teen - he was a farm boy and couldn't imagine us NOT knowing how to. My memories are of driving around a local high school parking lot and then having to stop on what I'm sure was a 90 degree slant, and move forward, without stalling . . . I did not pass that test. (As a mature adult, I've been by that lot and there is no driveway/exit where I CLEARLY remember it being!!?)

I did learn on a very 'loose' Dodge Colt in the early '80's in the Twin Cities with a friend who wanted some relief from being the designated driver on our many outings. Amazingly, it was much easier to learn on the mostly flat highways & byways in the area and, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone, when I was slightly inebriated.

Consequently, my first car purchase, when I was moving to Duluth, MN, was a Renault - a stick shift w/a SUN ROOF - loved that car!! that I bought from a friend. My dad was appalled - especially when I drove home and wasn't really sure how to open the hood of the car. But, I Survived! and Dad was a sport - helped me by my second car, ironically a manual Colt that I had for many years. Have had a couple other manuals between then and now and just recently bought my first automatic. It's . . . OK. I'm honestly not much of a car person - whatever gets me from point A to B. The main difference I've noticed, after tapping the break/clutch a time or two, is putting the car in park - thankfully the keys won't come out of the ignition until that happens.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Bwis53 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:56 pm

I learned on a Camaro in '67. My first brainy husband tried to teach me stick in a Pinto. Unsuccessfully. My second husband told me I was going to learn the stick on our Toyota pickup if it killed me. I learned. I was gifted with a stick Fiat. I used to deliver telegrams near O'Hare in heavy traffic. It helped to downshift when the brakes went bad.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Mad Howler » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:33 pm

jjoyce wrote:I heard the guys on Car Talk giving some advice to a guy who was trying to teach his kid to drive stick. They said stick it in first and instruct the kid to get it moving without using the accelerator, just by feathering the clutch.

Awesome tip to pass along, I think that will come in handy someday.

Who would have thought that the manual transmission would be such the touchstone here (besides nicotine, obcourse)? Not me, but it is. Great thread.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby The Center Square » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:19 am

Henry Vilas wrote:
david cohen wrote:I learned stick on an old Kharman Ghia.

No shit! So did I.

Jesus - Me too. '57 convertible with the top duct-taped on.
I f'n loved the shit out of that car. It had a manual choke too.
I could go on and on about it.

Thing I remember most about learning stick on it:
Being routed by my father to a huge incline under a railroad trestle with a stop sign at the top of the hill on the other side. With cars behind me at a dead stop on the incline, he just said, "If you can get up and past the sign without falling into the cars behind us - the rest is cake".

The (then) owner of Badger Liquor taught me 3 on the tree on his Barracuda. -an equally fun drive.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Michael Patrick » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:37 am

I learned how to drive on an old Ford tow truck that belonged to the gas station I worked for. This was back in the days when gas stations still repaired cars...

I got pretty good at backing cars into tight parking spaces on the lot.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby LargeMarge » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:58 am

I learned to drive in the parking lots at Olin Park. We didn't know that it was the place where men went to hook up. I was driving from one parking lot to the other. There were two other cars that kept switching from parking lot to parking lot. I think they were really annoyed with me. Then, a police car came and they both left. I am so uncoordinated that I didn't think I could learn, but I did.

I was the last of my friends in college to learn to drive stick. I tend to forget people can't drive stick because it seemed like I was the last to learn in my group. I had a manual for several years. My current car is auto stick. I never use it in manual mode. It was a used car so it wasn't like I got that feature on purpose.

We went to Europe about a year ago. Almost all the rentals were manual transmissions. You could get an automatic if you requested it in advance and paid extra, but it wasn't worth it.

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Re: Automatic vs. stick-shift

Postby Marvell » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:21 pm

I learned to drive in one of these babies, which was a manual. Super glad I did; just the other day I had call to drive a stick around town and managed to do it without dropping the transmission on the asphalt.

The only time I really prefer a stick shift is when driving on the highway and need to pass someone. In town, and especially on hills, the whole clutch-shift-thing challenges my already miniscule mechanical abilities.

I'm a member of Community Car, and as far as I know all the vehicles in the fleet are automatics.

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