A recent article on Salon.com starts things off with the headline “Is it ethical to drive stick?” Now, we don’t normally get our automotive news from Salon… hell, we just browse Craigslist, eBay, and Autotrader all day. This particular headline, however, caught our attention in the same way that coke-snorting car-stealing hooker/stripper meth dealers catch the eyes of Jalopnik editors. Still, even los Jalops can agree that the headline, and ensuing article, are a bit off the mark.
The idea of ethics and the manual transmission are posited by author David Sirota. His article starts strong by grabbing our affection right out of the gate with memories of his father’s chocolate brown Datsun 280ZX. While that’s not our favorite of the Z cars, it’s not a bad place to find yourself behind the wheel. Sirota states that he learned to drive on said Datsun, and that the experience planted a seed of driving skill that eventually added up to provide serious value.
Now, however, as manual transmissions are experiencing a tinge of resurgence, Sirota is listening to others proclaim that automatics are just as good (if not better) than the row-your-own equipped vehicles when it comes to fuel economy. Therein lies the “ethical” dilemma for Mr. Sirota. He cites articles from AOL Autos and USA Today (well written pieces, mind you) that explain why automatics are now on par with manual transmissions in terms of fuel efficiency and even driving enjoyment.
Having driven a few of these automatic upgrades myself, I can say that they do their jobs wonderfully. The Porsche PDK is an amazing unit that is damn near telepathic in its ability to select the correct gear. Pop a Lamborghini Gallardo into “Corsa”, and prepare to have laughter-inducing shifts at your near instant command. Still, despite the advances in automatic gearbox technology, we here at Hooniverse.com will pick a manual gearbox all day, every day… and it’s got nothing to do with ethics.
Our connection to our cars starts with our eyes, moves through our hearts, and travels out to our hands. It is with our hands that we grasp the steering wheel, and grip the shift lever. From there, we tell the car where we want to go, and which gear it should be in. That won’t make us the fastest on a race track, or the most fuel efficient around town. It will, however, make us happy.
Ethics… be damned.