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Attention all you “automotive sentimentalists”, the manual transmission is bad for the world

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.

[Source: Salon.com]

Currently there are "91 comments" on this Article:

  1. Devin says:

    Whenever I see one of these "automatics are better!" things that sad people write, I think of this:

    [youtube IvfcnpJRf0Q http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvfcnpJRf0Q youtube]

  2. Alff says:

    Two thoughts…
    1) It isn't about "ethics"

    2) Even if it were, I wouldn't be turning to the online liberal rag Salon for ethical advice.

    • Thrashy says:

      I aagree. That's why I turn to the online liberal rag The Atlantic instead!

      Also, I think that's about as far into actual politics as we should go around here. Else there may be blood…

      • Alff says:

        To be clear, I find extreme conservatism equally abhorrent. However, if I were to take ethical advice from this source I would apparently not drive a stick. That's enough for me to stay away.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

      I reply to you, you'll know why, I might ramble, sorry.

      Confession, I like auto. If I had to drive Chicago grid lock M-F, I wouldn't do it in an old car with stick. That's the thing right there. Thing is it has to be in a car that the auto does not ruin. You take any new car with 160hp and modern auto, there's really not much detriment in everyday driving. Now I'm lucky, I live really close to work and can get there on neighborhood streets. At the moment I am interested in old cars of the sort where an auto just drains any fun from it. It's that simple. No trying to justify my choices or anything of that sort to make me feel better like in that Salon post.

      So inspired by a great silly comment of yours once Alff, I was sitting at a red light next to a school bus with my youngest son. Bus is loud, I'm loud. I look over at my son and ask him if he thinks we can beat the bus. He's like, "Yeah!" So I'm waiting, the light to my side turns, yellow, then red, now mine is green. Crap I did a bad job going to first, car's bouncing, precious seconds lost. But I think I still have this bus, time for second, oh yeah. Now I am like five yards up, exhaust screaming, third. Yes I pass the bus! It turned, ha ha ha ha ha!!!! But I look at my son, he's beaming, "You totally beat that bus dad!"

      Well I guess I do in fact have to justify my car choice every now and then, sorry.

  3. muthalovin says:

    Well guys, it was fun while it lasted. Ethics killed the manuals.

  4. JayP2112 says:

    Can't "toe-heel" in an automatic. (I know, they do it 'automatically' now)

    Rat Fink wouldn't be the same…
    <img src="http://img.off-road.com/aimages/articlestandard/trucks4x4/122010/661577/RatFink.jpg&quot; >

    Or this…
    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EDVhcmSW-9E/T3XIKjf5H_I/AAAAAAAADVA/WgvHLx2hTF8/s1600/LindaV-1-640×474.jpg&quot; width="450">

    Found at: http://automobileandamericanlife.blogspot.com/201

  5. lilwillie says:

    KILL IT WITH GRENADES.

    Not the manual……Salon..

  6. Van_Sarockin says:

    Manuals used to tend to have about a 2 mpg advantage over automatics. Auto clutches, and auto lockup torque converters can rebalance that, and CVT can be better. There's also ways to shift inefficiently, like staying in too low a gear too long. Even then, I think that a manual still has the advantage. An auto tranny may be able to house more gear ratios than can reasonably be managed by manually shifting a clutched transmission. Potentially advantaging the auto box. Where manuals should always have the advantage, is that the materials and manufacturing effort to make and auto, and the replacement of transmission fluids and filters, plus the time and effort and resources needed to design the automatic transmission are far higher than for manuals. Someone needs to shift their thinking.

    • 68monk says:

      Exactly. Someone who knows how to drive well, and has been taught to drive stick well, will always be more efficient than an auto box with a computer chip. Decisions about engine braking, laying off the pedal going down a hill, etc save fuel every day. Plus as we know, slushboxes add hundreds of pounds of weight, which doesn't help their case (no pun intended)

  7. quattrovalvole says:

    "automatics are now on par with manual transmissions in terms of fuel efficiency and even driving enjoyment"

    Fuel efficiency? In some cases (CVT, for instance), yes

    Driving enjoyment? Well, that's subjective. On paper, modern automatics can perform faster than the manual counterparts (e.g. super-fast shift time, etc.) However, we can't confuse fun with numbers. One might "enjoy" driving a car with super-quick dual clutch automatic gearbox. Manuals are slower than those gearboxes but to some people, the interaction between the driver and the mechanics is the one that counts.

    I'm not saying automatics are not fun. I'm just saying that everyone has their own definition of "fun".

    • Van_Sarockin says:

      A quick shift doesn't really save gas, though I suppose there may be a bit of value in not having the revs fall off or gas being burned while the clutch is depressed. A big efficiency issue is whether shifting is occurring at the proper rpm/load points — dagnabit — in tents debates just swallowed a whole chunk of text, and i'm too lazy to retype.

      • quattrovalvole says:

        I didn't say that quick shift saves gas, I brought up the issue because some people may say that automatic is now just as "fun" as a manual because it can accelerate faster due to the quicker shift

    • Scandinavian Flick says:

      I always laugh when people try to quantify that which is clearly subjective. "Fun" is not something you can put a number to. At least not in a way that it pertains to everyone.

    • Devin says:

      One thing I've noticed with my young friends who are discovering manuals for the first time, all of them say that manual is way more fun. Admittedly, a small sample size, but it's pretty interesting how, man or woman, straight or gay, when they start driving a manual car they don't want to go back, because they've actually started to enjoy driving, sometimes for the first time.

      • Tiller188 says:

        Interesting to hear! I have an even smaller sample size, from the sounds of it, but I've noticed that manual transmissions have experienced kind of a renaissance among my group of friends, too. A couple of my friends (and I myself) all learned to drive stick around college, and sure enough, we all enjoy it and have either bought or plan to buy manual transmission cars. I'd always wanted to learn anyway, having always been intrigued by cars, but I think for the others it was a little more incidental and then grew from there.

        I wonder if it makes a difference (in viewing it as fun rather than intimidating/bothersome) to learn to drive a stick significantly after having learned the basics of driving on an auto? I can see the sense in learning the basics of throttle/brake control, rules of the road, spatial awareness of where your corners are, etc. before later concentrating on the finer points of double-clutching…

  8. OA5599 says:

    Jeff,

    Didn't you learn anything after the AMS Motorsports article drew an infestation of highly impassioned commenters outside of the blog's target audience? They clogged up the system for a day or two before the comments were closed.

    The last thing I want is for Hooniverse to now be overrun by Pinheads for the Ethical Treatment of Automatics.

  9. smalleyxb122 says:

    As we slowly come to terms with the idea that the traditional arguments for a manual transmission are becoming obsolete, we must cling to such an intangible construct that it can never be disproven. There are some models wherein the manual transmission still garners a slight edge in fuel economy, performance, or both, but it is no longer a given. But to suggest that I should opt for the automatic because it is faster and/or gets better mileage is missing the point. By that same logic, no one should ever buy a Miata, since a Camry is faster and gets better mileage. It’s not always about empirical data.

  10. mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

    This grinds my gears.

    • Tiller188 says:

      Actually it's the shift dogs you're hearing. </pedantic> (Edit: thinking about it, "grinds my dogs" REALLY doesn't work as well, though, does it?)

  11. IronBallsMcG says:

    My answer consists of a mere two words.

  12. PowerTryp says:

    I am a Hoon and I refuse to change with the rest of the world. My cars have carburetors and mechanically operated speedometer/tachometers. My cars lack the requisite 2-3 cupholders per seating position that cars today have. My cars if even equipt with air conditioning doesn't mean that it works. My side windows and/or roof have to be lowered by hand which takes skill while on the highway. And yes there are three pedals on my floor and a stick in the middle of the car for changing gears.

    I AM A HOON AND I WILL NOT CHANGE!

  13. HycoSpeed says:

    The link to ethics is tenuous at best. In the Salon article there is little factual evidence to support the emotional appeal and conclusion. AOL seems to have actually done some research, and the numbers seem some what damning in the realm of EPA calculated mileage. But that is the key–EPA numbers: Thanks to electronically controlled transmissions and throttles, the drive mode is now typically programmed to maximize the numbers on the EPA test cycle.

    So they are training to the test. Train a driver good enough and they could probably hit those numbers too. Let's see some real world same driver/same route comparisons before we start crying about ethics.

    The one good point I felt the Salon guy made was about heightened driving awareness while driving a stick, and I imagine many of us feel the same way. I know I feel much more connected and in control of my drive in the standard vs. the automatic.

    • Scandinavian Flick says:

      Sounds similar to the idea behind putting filters on cigarettes. They are specifically designed to lower the particulates detected by the machines that test them, but do much less than indicated in actual use. Thus, the numbers tested make it look better than it ends up being.

      "Your mileage may vary."

    • ptschett says:

      I'm reminded of the $1 billion settlement between the EPA and the truck engine makers in 1998. The engine makers were setting up their computerized engines so they could recognize when they were within the bounds of the EPA test procedure and retune the engine to a compliant but lower-fuel-economy state, and could retune to a higher-fuel-economy/worse-emissions state in conditions outside the EPA test's bounds (extended highway driving, for example.) In the EPA's eyes these engine controllers constituted a 'defeat device' though the engines were fully compliant with the existing EPA test.

  14. buzzboy7 says:

    Tell your automatic transmission to upshift

    It's okay, I can wait…

    • Kogashiwa says:

      If it's anything like most that I've had, it'll do so, right in the middle of a curve, right before you're about to accelerate.

      • buzzboy7 says:

        ME: Upshift……..upshift…….UPSHIFT……F***ING UPSHIFT
        CAR: Cruising along all is good. 3000rpms in 3rd gear all is well. Continuing on course
        ______________
        ME: Drop down a gear to pass.
        CAR: He want's go fast, I should up shift for a higher top speed
        ME: NOOOOOO

        I was out driving the fire department's 1982 Chevy Diesel 70 last night. 6-53T and 4 speed allison. It drives 35mph in 3rd gear, while turning over 2500rpms. SCREAMING. Bloody thing won't upshift until you jam your foot on the gas and let off real quick, then five seconds later it decides to lurchingly downshift back to third. I know that modern autos are better but….

    • ptschett says:

      It's a Chrysler 42LE in limp-home 2nd, I'm trying as hard as I can.

      PS: I don't actually own anything with a 42LE. Though I do like the LH cars…
      PPS: FWIW, my Dakota's 545RFE gets into what I think of as 'hoon mode', where I'm just putzing around and it's staying in each gear longer than I want.

  15. Irishzombieman says:

    GAAAAAAAAA!

    This is the sort of idiotic question that should be discussed only by a bunch of smug graduate students and a smug, turtle-necked professor sitting in a library conference room somewhere. Assholes like this have no place in the real world.

    I find it terribly amusing when a craphole info source like Salon (whose main article categories are "politics", "art", and "life") decides to weigh in on a technical subject by addressing it under the guise of "ethics". Anyone who asks that question–"Is it ethical to drive stick?"–has told you their answer already.

    They've also–subliminally, without realizing it–painted the word "shithead" on their forehead, in ink that only normal people can read.

    BUT! They generally won't actually come out and say, "I believe it is unethical to drive a stick," because that's just confrontative. Instead they whine about how the alternative is not quite up to par with the perceived unethical manual in terms of driver involvement. Golly! What a predicament! What do I do, folks?

    WAH WAH! ". . . that’s what I’m going to tell myself to justify my stick-shift fetish. . . until the automatic fully surpasses the manual in every other way." A person who justifies his way out of a crisis of conscience by lying to himself–and admitting it–shouldn't be writing for anything but craphole websites like Salon.

    • Scandinavian Flick says:

      You nailed it regarding the subtext in the article title. It's a loaded question intended to make the reader come to a foregone conclusion. It's a softball straight to the noggin… The rest of the article is moot, as the conclusion has already been made.

      • Irishzombieman says:

        Once–just once–I'd like someone to ask me a question like this face to face.

        'Cuz I'd love to reply with something along the lines of "Is it ethical for me to punch a person in the head for being a jackass?"

        • jeepjeff says:

          You should find some ethical vegans. They're the best. However, there is something better than punching them. Some of them are extremely easy to offend, for instance, I find "when I eat, things die" and "that's not food, that's what food eats" to be pretty effective. If you have fellow meat eaters around starting a conversation about the ideal way to cook steaks/burgers/bacon or recipes enhanced by bacon is also a great way to shut them up.

          I wish I were kidding, but I'm in the Bay Area…

          • Irishzombieman says:

            YES! There's not a more easily frustratable group of people on the planet, and the most frustrating thing I've found for thwarting vegans is to refuse to engage the debate on their terms–refuse to engage period, even. Just smile and chew, boys. Smile and chew.

            And take really big bites.

            • Thebloody323 says:

              My favourite is eating veal in front of them and then talking about how tough it is because it seems that they let this "one learn how to walk before killing it". Man I thought that girl was going to pop a blood vessel in her for head.

          • Alff says:

            I like to invoke the wrath of God. "You are a sinner. God put us atop the food chain for a reason."

    • jeepjeff says:

      Thank you IrishZombieMan. Well put.

      You know what's even better? The difference doesn't justify the whining on his part. It's a MPG or two. Whoop-de-sh—. It doesn't ☢∞£☠¡©☭ matter.

      Worried about how much fuel you're burning? Don't drive so damn much. It's just that simple. My inner-car-guy and my inner-environmentalist are on board with my Jeep (which gets 15/18 city/hwy) because it's a lot of fun to drive, and since I don't drive it to work and I bought it used, I have a smaller footprint than most of the numbnuts driving Priuses.

      Not worried about how much fuel you're burning? Dump your clutch and roast another set of tires. Preferably where some numbnuts with a Prius can see you. (Ok, ok, so inner-car-guy won the cage match about push rod V8s. I'm not sorry.)

      I have no crisis of conscience on this, and apparently, I've thought it through more thoroughly than the author of the Salon.com article. The downside is minimal and I love driving a stick. It is a joy. I'm not going to stop, and I will never have a crisis of conscience over it.

      • Irishzombieman says:

        It almost felt like he was introducing a debate just for the sake of having a debate. And he picked a lame subject and took a lame position on both sides of it. And ended with a contradiction which maybe he thought would make him sound reasonable and would foster said debate.

        But it just made him sound stupid.

        —-

        My Metro has been sitting for months. It's not anything special but it's mine, and I love it dearly. Mostly that third pedal, and the well-worn shift grip, and double clutching to downshift into second, and pulling off a good heel/toe. . . .

        • jeepjeff says:

          I'd take the 3 pedal Metro over pretty much any automatic. Even some pretty ridiculous machines, I spent a few years with only an automatic, and that was awful (compromise car, we only had room in our lives for one car, and my wife doesn't drive stick[*]. Also, I didn't realize how much I loved driving a stick; I strongly suggest never bothering with the lesson, it wasn't worth it).

          [*] I gave her a terrible lesson on my old Tercel seven years ago, and re-teaching her on the Jeep is going to be hilarious if she ever agrees to it.

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

            It's best to teach this first: if the engine is about to stall, push the clutch back in. Just have it in first and don't even let her touch the accelerator. Once that stress of "dammit will I kill the engine again this time!?" with slamming into your seat belt sensation is gone, it makes the lesson go way better. Then when she is trying to feather the accelerator and clutch later, she can roast your clutch a bit until she gets the hang of it. Good luck!

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

          Crap buddy I down clicked on accident when I wanted to up click, sorry. Just needed to warn you so you would not think there was some anti-metro troll on here. How those razors doing?

          • Irishzombieman says:

            HA HA! No worries.

            Razors have not yet arrived. When I signed up last month they said that new folks would be added in May, so they've still got a couple of weeks to come through.

            Tried the Listerine thing and it worked pretty good, even with my currently month-and-a-half-old blade. Bad bumps the next day, though–the old face ain't used to having the whiskers cut off below skin level. Will try again when I get the new blades and see if that makes a difference.

            • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

              Dang, you used the brand listerine? That was key for me, I tried scope once and it did not work. Also stingy aftershave after. Anyway, 6 weeks is a long time, but I see they have you waiting. I'd try to use that blade for as long as I could too, just knowing the one in the mail is right around the corner. I'll check back in a few weeks then.

      • Alff says:

        You raise a great point. In my Alfa, 2 mpg is the difference between 10W30 and 20W50. Salon might argue that my use of 20W50 to counter the motor's tendency to burn oil is an indication how environmentally unfriendly my car is. My response would be that it's 28 years old and still happily on the road. Is that better or worse for the environment than scrapping it and having something new produced for me?

        • Van_Sarockin says:

          Those numbers can be run. A new car represents an enormous amount of resource extraction and energy consumption. The it takes a lot more resources and energy to operate, maintain and repair the car. Your old car is about half the mass of an average new car and has survived about four times longer than most. I'd say you're alright. Same situation for oil consumption. From the sounds of it, the lighter oil is a good decision.

    • facelvega says:

      I happen to be a smug professor sitting in a library (well not exactly, but there are a hell of a lot of books in here), and I fail to see what I have to do with salon.com, but thanks for looping me in with a journalist who was being a dickhead. Guess I just don't have a place in the real world! But maybe my red neck and multiple old stick shift cars will convince you to hear me out when I say that seriously thinking about ethics isn't the problem, the problem is people bullshitting about "ethics" like David Sirota does.

      • Thebloody323 says:

        Some how you don't seem like the smug type. You'll probably make a better argument if you don't use words like "dickhead" and "red neck". ;)

      • Irishzombieman says:

        the problem is people bullshitting about "ethics" like David Sirota does.

        Which is pretty much what I intended to say.

        Never said ethics was a useless subject, and never said that all academics were jackasses (though academia, as a whole, has a statistically significant larger-than-the-general-population number of jackasses). I just used that as an example of a small sample of people who might take a question like “Is it ethical to drive stick?” seriously and spend hours creating a giant pile of bullshit they’d title “The Ethics Of Mechanical vs Hydrostatic Gear Selection” and be absolutely serious about it. Never once in my entire little rant did I loop all academics into the jackass group.

        I’ve been a college professor, and while there was a lot I loved about it, the general disconnection from reality was why I left and why I won’t go back. There are engineering professors who’ve been at their jobs for decades who’ve never been engineers, never designed a successful product, never tried to take a good idea to market. Computer science professors teaching the next generation of IT professionals while stuck philosophically in the 1990s glory days of Sun Microsystems. Poetry professors teaching poetry-major students how to be poetry professors so they can teach poetry-major students how to be poetry professors.

        Don’t get me wrong—there needs to be a place where the foundational ideas and philosophies behind everyday actions and realities are discussed and deconstructed and analyzed and revised. I have a problem, though, with people who get so good at that and so comfortable in their cozy little world of ideas that the ideas become the only thing that’s important. Connection to reality is required for exclusion from the jackass subset of academia.

        • facelvega says:

          Well yes, there's plenty of navel-gazing idiocy in the ivory tower, no question. "The Ethics of Mechanical vs Hydrostatic Gear Selection" actually kind of sounds like a thread here.

  16. DemonXanth says:

    If it's not ethical to drive a stick then it's not ethical to go to starbucks for a cup of coffee.

  17. skitter says:

    Others can debate their ethics all they want.
    For some of us, love comes from a physical relationship.

  18. Scandinavian Flick says:

    I'm sitting here wondering if I should give them another page click to give further weight to their diatribe… The same thing happened when that "Worst Cars of… [something, something]" article came up not long ago. It was written to get a rise out of people and drive page views. So now I am struck with a conundrum… Is it ethical for me to cast judgement without reading the case that the opposing view presents?

    Maybe not. But I already know my stand on the issue. Since it's not the type of issue where further evidence is going to change my stand, (such as the case may be in politics or science) I feel no need to take heed of an article which I feel holds no water against my reasoning.

    So, to this, I say…

    <img src="http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj37/moochie_bean/Gif%20Stock/hangover-gif-2.gif"&gt;

  19. PowerTryp says:

    "hell, we just browse Craigslist, eBay, and Autotrader all day" Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. How have you not made the switch yet? http://www.autotempest.com. The only disadvantage is the lack of an "other makes" section.

  20. Irishzombieman says:

    Jack Baruth–a person I'd like to punch in the head sometimes for being a jackass–sent this guy up nicely over at TTAC.

  21. sudden1 says:

    To me, it's not about shifting gears as much as it is being able to drop the clutch…

  22. Froggmann_ says:

    Meh, I still prefer a manual over an auto.

    A row-your-own trickystick keeps your more alert and keeps you an [i]active[/i driver].

    A slushbox no matter how good will eventually turn you into a [i]passive[/i] driver.

    An active driver is one that is monitoring all that is around him. A passive driver lets things happen all around him while concentrating on his coffee, burger, phone etc.

    Which do you want at the wheel when that deer jumps across the road?

  23. UDman says:

    While this Salon article is truly a pandering piece, but I'm going to say it here and now… There is no way in hell I would ever go back to owning a manual transmission… Ever. I'm sorry, but I don't really want to shift my own gears again.

  24. Next thing to argue about is the brake. IMO the brake is the most inefficient device in the car if you're talking about fuel economy. Most brakes transform the engery in heat. You could be surprised if you try to drive with in mind to use the brake as less as possible, the economy can be as high as 20% (or higher if you go coasting much).
    Manual transmissions are I think still better in fuel economy for 90% of the cars on the road today (worldwide)

    • Van_Sarockin says:

      Braking is an indication of lack of advance planning. As an exercise, you can try to drive a trip without any full stops (aside from stop signs…) and no or minimal braking

  25. fede6882 says:

    ethics in buying a manual or automatic car? probably from the same people that buy an hybrid for the badge on the back, and the feel of superiority.

    where I live I think that less than 10% of cars are automatic or dualclutches, and we are still getting quite old automatics… so here comes a maybe dumb question: with one of this fancy dual clutches flappy paddle gearbox, can yo go from a gear (higher than 1st) to neutral, and back to that gear? (like staying on the clutch or going to neutral on a manual while moving, is it called "coasting"?)

  26. sport_wagon says:

    Sirota's headline just makes me want to destroy the world even more than usual.

  27. Metric Wrench says:

    I choose to shift meself because I enjoy it. If driving a manual helps you get through your day, then by all means, get one. Life is short. I doubt anyone lies on their deathbed thinking "Well, if anything, I saved three tons of CO2 by giving up my beloved stick shift…" and passes with an annoying smirk on their face.

  28. facelvega says:

    All those unethical socialist Europeans are still buying manuals at a rate of about 75 percent, poor souls.

  29. P. Frere says:

    I have just read the Sirota article over at Salon (thanks for making me give them a hit at their site–which may have been their idea all along as I doubt many 'car people' read that site regularly). You all do realize that he comes down in favor of the stick shift, right? And that it is mostly about the recent marked improvement in the automatic trans. And that he includes the 'manual=more aware driver' thesis approvingly. No? I didn't think so.

    The trouble with ethics as I see it is that only people like Sirota, who has no actual power, seem to give them a thought.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

      I read it too, but I bristled when I got to this part: "I no longer feel so righteous or populist" Ugh why should I ever feel that way because I drive a manual or auto to begin with? Well I don't, why does he? Also it doesn't take any more attention to drive a stick than auto. It's second nature, so that blows-up his weak argument at the end. It's like he's trying to justify it to himself, but really he does not need to justify every little thing to himself in life. I mean he wrote himself he ride a bicycle, if he needs to justify stuff to himself to feel better, he just did. It's just an annoying article for me to read because it casts the author in a bad light to me.

    • Van_Sarockin says:

      Read the referenced article? What a silly concept. But it really would help if more people thought about (and then did something) about their choices and behavior. Sixty years of development and automatic transmissions still kind of suck, and ca be easily outperformed by attentive drivers. Unless you're buying a Ferrari, and that 0.01 second improvement in shift speed lets you feel more masculine in front of your douchebag friends.

  30. gtidriver says:

    i guess it depends if it's a slushbox or dual clutch robotised manual. they are two very different animals. if i drove an old car i'd go manual because the shitty manual trans would be better than the even shittier slushbox equivalent. there are very few cars over 20 years old (old for me) that had truly good manuals. as for modern cars, if i drove a camry, or some other execrable automotive abortion, maybe a manual would keep me from dying inside every minute i faxed driving instructions to japan to keep the vile thing on the road.

    what i don't understand is 'enthusiasts' who buy a car with two turbos, direct injection, variable valve timing, EBD, ABS, active suspension, lane assist, auto-park, launch control, electronic throttle, ESC, blah blah blah and then wank on and on about how pure their driving experience is because they activate servos that manipulate clutch plates, dogs and cogs with a hand lever and a pedal as opposed to a flappy paddle. sure it's fun for some people but it is absurd to imagine that changing gear is the closest link between driver, vehicle and road. if it really were about that i'd see a lot more 930 turbos and e30 m3s as opposed to 'sporty' luxury barges driven by people who can't even avoid stalling let alone heel and toe.

  31. bhtooefr says:

    As far as smug factor goes, I have a manual transmission vehicle that blows anything that the Salon writer in question is talking about out of the water – and the only automated transmissions for this class of vehicle have been universally rejected.

    It has an 8-speed manually-shifted sequential gearbox with a freewheel for even better efficiency, runs on ultra-narrow tires, is a single-seater, and weights around 50 pounds in its current configuration.

    Of course, it's pedal powered, too, so it has no clutch pedal. ;)

    (Oh, and I greatly prefer manuals, and I've only owned one automatic so far, and that was a $500 beater that was a case of, "I need a car RIGHT NOW".)

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