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Hooniverse Asks Bonus: Is The Ability To Drive A Stick Necessary?

LongRoofian October 27, 2015 All Things Hoon 55 Comments

austin permit

Late last week my grand nephew, nephew NotSoLilJim’s youngest son and brother Bus_Plunge’s youngest grandson, got his learner’s permit allowing him to drive an automobile, accompanied by a licensed driver, here in the great ShowMe State. His Mom, LilMom posted Pickle Boy’s new status on her page in that book about her face. Please make the jump to see some of the comments about her status and leave your opinion in the comments.


As I was writing this up, I realized the only non automatic automobile in that young Man’s world is his grandpa’s Advanced Design dump truck.

From LilMom’s FB page:

Bus_Plunge commented: Learn to drive a stick.

NotSoLilJim posted: I did when I was eight or nine, your move Austin Lee and Trey Lee…

LilMom posted this: Hey now. I still drive a stick….

Pickle Boy responded: Live in the now, Dad! GEEZ! Lol

NotSoLilJim came back with: I am, and I can still drive a stick Austin Lee lol. Blue 1968 beetle back yard in Ozark MO in 85 or 86

This olelongrooffan made this observation: Pickle Boy and Trey, my dear nephews, you will never be a Man until you learn to drive a stick. Three pedal madness Rules. Trust this olelongrooffan on this one guys.

NotSoLilJim said in response to the Pickle Boy: Most new vehicles have automatic transmissions but I think it adds to the fun factor of driving, whether it’s a 3 on the tree, 4 on the floor, or a 13 speed Eaton Fuller. You and the machine become one lol

AuntieSteph also posted: My dad taught me how to drive a stick and now that’s all I drive! Trust me guys, once you learn its a lot of fun! Driving an automatic seems boring to me now!

So what do my fellow Hoons think? Is the ability to drive a stick necessary in today’s world?

Images Copyright Hooniverse 2015/longrooffan

  • Alff

    No. As a matter of fact, the fewer people who can the fewer potential thieves to steal my car.

    • If the straitjacket itself isn’t a sufficient deterrent, no mere stickshift is going to stop an Alfa thief.

      • Alff

        With the Alfa I’ve adopted one of your preferred theft deterrents. It doesn’t run.

    • Frank T. Cat

      The venn-diagram of thieves that can drive a manual and the thieves that know about the reverse gear lock on SAABs make me feel very good about the chances of me ever finding my 9-5 missing.

      • moorewr

        ditto with even a garden variety Audi. 🙂

      • roguetoaster

        When I went to test drive the SVT Contour I picked up a few months ago I had to ask the seller how to get the thing in reverse. I’d totally blanked on the whole lift up the lock and select R that must have been everywhere when I was just getting in to cars.

        • Frank T. Cat

          Oh, no I meant the fact that you physically cannot remove the key from the ignition switch without putting the car into reverse. Consequently, you cannot take the car out of reverse without putting the key in the ignition. SAAB evidently did that because the ignition switch being in the center console made a hardware steering column lock improbable.

          • roguetoaster

            Wow. Is that a GM or genuine troll inspired design?

            • Frank T. Cat

              100% genuine Trollhättan design.

            • CraigSu

              Frank is correct, the reverse lockout feature was all Saab, being introduced well before GM ownership. I remember first encountering this on a classic 900 in the mid-80s.

          • bigredcavetroll

            Before I ever knew she would be my mother in law, I backed my mother in law’s car (a lovely red SAAB) out of my parent’s driveway, which was both the first time I’d driven a car, and the first time I’d operated a manual transmission, and both without supervision. I felt really sheepish when I had to go back in and ask how to take the key out because I thought I’d broken it.

  • Alan Cesar

    Yes. If you’re my wife and my legs are broken and my car is the only one available to take me to the hospital, it’s very important that you know how to drive stick. Unfortunately, that argument has not been effective at getting my wife into the driver’s seat of my car.

  • mzszsm

    Does the Pope shit in the woods?

    • bigredcavetroll

      …does he? Did he?

    • zsvdkhnorc

      Do bears pray?

      • bigredcavetroll

        Do they prey? Does a chicken have lips?

    • If a Pope shits in the woods and nobody’s there to hear it,

      Does it still make a smell?

      • bigredcavetroll

        Since smelling is the process of chemicals attaching to receptors in the nose, if there’s no living thing with scent receptors around it, I think we would have to say no.

  • Necessary? No. Nowadays even knowing how to parallel park manually isn’t technically necessary.
    A good thing? Oh, hell yeah. You really can’t consider yourself a skilled driver without being able to drive a stick.

    • Vairship

      Even checking your mirror to see if there’s a car in the next lane is no longer “necessary”. It’s still a good idea! 😉

  • GTXcellent

    Sadly in this day and age – no. There are almost no vehicles even offered with a manual transmission any more. Even the ones that are, good luck finding a dealer who has one in inventory.
    Too, too bad (especially for Mrs GTXcellent and her mad search to find a worthy upgrade of her beloved 9-3)

    • longrooffan

      Ironically, the new Scions come with a 6 speed manual as standard.

  • greggbc

    Everyone should learn to drive in a manual. It is easier to learn if you start from scratch with a clutch. I learned in an automatic and had a hard time with a clutch later.

    • Tiller188

      Hmm, do you think so? That’s interesting to hear: I always thought it was a big help for me, when learning stick, that I had already driven automatics for quite a few years, so that the basic rules-of-the-road type knowledge and general driving skills were already under my belt and all I had to worry about was the clutch. Jumping into the deep end and learning stick right off the bat doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but using autos as a kind of training wheels seems like it could have some benefit.

  • nanoop

    Vincent: But you know what the funniest thing about America is?
    Jules: What?
    Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different.
    Jules: Example?
    Vincent: All right. Well, you can walk into a building supply store in Springfield and load stuff on your truck. And I don’t mean just like in no VW T4 van, I’m talking about an intimidating truck. And in Greenville, you can drive a truck with an automatic gearbox. Know what they call an automatic gearbox in Greenville?
    Jules: They don’t call it an automatic gearbox?
    Vincent: Naw, man, they got the AE system, they wouldn’t know what the fuck an automatic gearbox is.
    Jules: What do they call it?
    Vincent: They call it a “slushbox”.
    Jules: “slushbox”.
    Vincent: That’s right.
    Jules: What do they call a manual gearbox?
    Vincent: A manual gearbox is a manual gearbox, but they call it “driving stick”.
    Jules: [in mock American accent] “driving stick.” [laughs] What do they call a Doppelkupplungsgetriebe?
    Vincent: I don’t know, I didn’t go in a Volkswagen dealership.

    Edit: I forgot the most important: congrats on the status uprating, grand nephew of LRF, and as they always say: have fun and be safe!

  • Kiefmo

    Even though my oldest kid is only 8 — nearly a decade away from the driver’s seat — I still want them to learn how. I’m confident we’re at least two decades away from autopilot dominance on the mean streets, and as long as there are stick cars still on the road, I want them to be able to perform that task. They don’t even need to be good at it, they just need to be able to get a three-pedal car underway and down the road.

    My middle kid is particularly worrisome. She’s a bit of a wild child and hot head, so I can foresee her getting herself into a situation where her date (who drives stick because otherwise he or she won’t be dating my daughter) is shitfaced and can’t drive, but my daughter is still in command of her senses because she’s pissed at aforementioned date about something or another (anyone’s guess, just as it is now).

    My wife can make a three-pedal car move, but she hates driving them. She says it distracts her focus, which I understand because she never practiced to the point where the motions happen without conscious thought — she only practiced enough to move the vehicle. I blame her brother, who was the one that taught her using his old Spitfire when they were teenagers and, knowing him, probably yelled at her nonstop throughout the process.

    All that said, there is no manually-shifted vehicle in my possession at this time, and that makes me sad. The Merc takes care of the security aspect by still requiring two-foot driving, as it’s got a low idle when cold that requires one foot on the throttle to prevent stalling. Sure, I could adjust it with a few turns of a wrench underhood, but it’s part of what makes the car mine.

  • dukeisduke

    Wow, my middle daughter was asking this morning, “What is a stick shift?” (my Tacoma has a floor shift 5-speed auto), after which I launched into a description of manual and automatic transmissions.

    A question for the Brits out there (Chris Haining?) – is it still the law in the UK that if you take your driving test in an automatic, you can only drive automatics, unless you go back and take the test in a manual? I know that was the case many years ago, according to a Brit I knew (who had a certification from the Institute of Advanced Motorists).

    • Yep. If you’re resolutely mechanically disinclined and can’t tie your own shoelaces you can opt for an automatic-only license.

      You must then buy a Nissan Micra so everybody else on the road can identify you and give you plenty of extra space for dawdling, hesitating, fumbling for the controls etc. etc. etc.

      • But does the UK classify Doppelkupplungsgetriebes as manual gearboxes? If so, that is a big part of the problem.

        • Nope, and in fact I would insist on Porsche fitting at least one of my Kupplungs mit einer trethebel.

          • dukeisduke

            Do they still have those grille badges for people with IAM certifications, and the red bar that goes across it, for when you lend your car to someone who isn’t IAM certified? My friend had one of those badges, and the red bar.

            • I’ve not seen one of those badges for ages. Painting with broad strokes here but IAM members always seem slightly odd. I should probably join.

  • dukeisduke

    And I’ll confess that I used to think that Missouri should be called the “Show Me How To Drive State”, experiencing expat Missouri drivers here in Texas.


  • Maymar

    Riding motorcycles is awesome. Riding motorcycles pretty much requires one be able to work a clutch. So if nothing else, that’s good reason.

    Strictly four wheels? Well, it’s not necessary if all you want is basic a-to-b transportation, but if you’re going to have any enthusiasm about it, odds are you need to at least know how to work one, even if your automotive interests lean slower.

    • jeepjeff

      Honda has a couple DCT models in their line-up this year, but I cannot see myself ever bothering to try riding one. Shift-it-myself is too much fun, and too much a part of the overall experience for me.

      I would say learning to drive stick is critical for slow cars. Slow-car-fast only really works with a stick. There’s a reason autoboxes picked up the nickname “slushbox”…

    • longrooffan

      Just to note, my grand (or is great?) nephew’s grand mom…don’t hate me for calling you a grandma Ganey… (Bus_Plunge’s PRVTRN) regularly Hoons around the Ozarks on a BMW two wheel machine. And she loves it.

  • Sjalabais

    I’m afraid this is a slippery slope. The next generation might wonder: Is it necessary to ever take control of your Googlified car (and life)? As others have said, in Europe it is necessary, and really awkward if you have an auto-only driver’s license. But anyone with an interest in cars, who’d like to try a classic one day, should be able to use a common manual gearbox. How hard can it be anyway?

  • Citric

    A young woman was in my car the other day. She saw it was a manual transmission. “Whoa you have a manual? That’s really hot.” she said.

    So, you know, competitive advantages.


    I think a display of sticksmanship indicates that you have some basic concept of how a car works; what different parts do, how it steers, stops, moves, wears, etc. Americans have deemed this knowledge “unnecessary”, despite establishing total dependence on daily personal car travel. Then they complain endlessly about how mechanics are ripping them off.

  • mve

    “Necessary? Is it necessary to drink my own urine? No, but it’s sterile and I like the taste.”
    Kinda the same thing here. I don’t need to drive a manual, but I prefer it.

  • JayP
  • Yes.

    I have 4 daily drivers and 3 are 5 speeds. Only the Prius is an auto and that’s mom’s.

  • ptschett

    I’d call it necessary if you’re going to work in any capacity that requires operating multiple different vehicles (auto service shop, farm or construction work, etc.) It’d be a condition I’d impose if I were loaning a manual-shift truck to a friend for some kind of weekend project.

    It’s certainly a good skill to have if you want the ability to rent a car when traveling in Europe, learn to ride a motorcycle, or maximize the enjoyment of some variations of the slow-car-fast principle.

    I wish more people had some background of driving manuals in whatever form so they understood things like why it’s better for traffic to keep rolling at a steady rate rather than constantly stopping / zooming / stopping again, and why it’s such a bad idea to stop only inches behind the next car in the queue on an uphill grade leading to a stoplight. (Which is dumb even if the car in front is an automatic with the grabbiest torque converter in the world.) And it’s probably good for mechanical conscientiousness with the DCT’s that try to simulate a torque-converter automatic (until the discs are converted into acrid smoke.)

    But I can’t say it’s necessary across the board. I don’t even consider it necessary for my ownership; while I drove plenty of manuals of all kinds, I didn’t own one till I was twice the age when I first got a license. And I traded that 2010 Challenger R/T with the 6-speed manual Tremec TR6060 for a 2015, same make/model/trim with the ZF 8HP70 and optional paddle shifters. I sometimes miss an incidental aspect of the old car, like the adjustable sliding center armrest; I haven’t missed that transmission yet.

  • 1977ChevyTruck

    An oft overlooked benefit: manual cars are usually cheaper than their automatic counterparts, especially when used.

    • smalleyxb122

      Only in certain segments. Manual economy cars are cheaper than autos, but anything with sporty pretension (except for drag racing pedigree) will command a premium for the row-your-own transmission.

      • 1977ChevyTruck


        Although pretty much any segment under the “sporty” segments will be cheaper, not just the absolute economy cars.

      • Shop for an old Miata. If you find a cheap one it’s either trashed or it’s an automatic. There’s a serious discount for the automatic in a used Miata.

        On the other hand, you are correct, buying a row your own economy car can mean a better car for the same money or a decent savings.

    • CraigSu

      The most glaring exception I can think of to this rule is the BMW 2002. A clean 2002a will bring about $7000 max. It’s manual counterpart in the same condition (not even a ti or tii) can easily bring twice that amount.

  • JayP

    The boy (just turned 14) said he wants to learn to drive a stick.
    He reason was “his car”, the 1994 Passat wagon VR6, is a manual.

    God help. This car hasn’t seen a gear change in 4 years. I may start a kickstarter to get a new gas tank and battery.

  • bus plunge

    two photos, LRF….

    NotSoLiilJim took his test in my 1972 Porsche — 5 speed 1992
    TripleTreyLee took his test in my 1987 S10 Sport —- auto. 2013

  • crank_case

    The perspective of someone who lives in a country (Ireland), where most cars are still “stick” and an autobox has traditionally been a luxury option.. Most people try pass their test in a “manual” here because if they don’t they will be limited to driving automatics on their license, and that’s a limited used market. Weird thing is, if you’ve always driven “stick”, it should not be taken for granted that driving an Auto is going to be well..automatic. It actually takes quite a bit of getting used to. Your muscle memory keeps going for an imaginary clutch pedal and shifter all the time, plus relying more on the brakes rather than being able to downshift into a tight corner. Each auto has its own character too (slushbox, CVT, semi-auto) and it takes a while to get used to each to get the best out of them. Things are changing even here of course, multi speed autos suit diesels and their narrow powerband, and just because most people here drive stick, doesn’t mean they do it well. The amount of times, I’ve been stuck behind someone at the lights who took ages to get their car in gear, means I sometimes wish, Mr. Average, who’s driving a boring crossover anyway, would just get himself an auto.

    I do think it’s a really nice skill to have if you want to enjoy small sporting cars, and if less people can change gear themselves, that market gets narrower. For most, drivers, increasingly going over to hybrids, the idea of changing gear, or even the accelerator having any direct relation to engine speed is going to seem like something from another time.

    (On the plus side, if you want to cheer yourself up that there is a future for affordable fun, check out the Yamaha sports concept from the Tokyo show)

    • Sjalabais

      After we bought the auto Camry of my mother-in-law for my wife to drive, I occasionally slammed the brake really hard trying to press the clutch when rolling into an intersection. Luckily, not once with a car behind us. Now, muscle memory and brain do work together in a smarter way…

      With time passing, I don’t mind the slushbox that much anymore either. I’d definitely choose a manual transmission if I could, but I am not getting angry at stupid downshifts on slightly hilly roads etc anymore.

    • mzszsm

      It’s so frightening every time I drive an auto after a long break and the car move forward with no accelerator instead of staying put or rolling back. That always gets me for that first moment when I begin to take my foot off of he brake pedal.

    • cronn

      “The amount of times, I’ve been stuck behind someone at the lights who took ages to get their car in gear, means I sometimes wish, Mr. Average, who’s driving a boring crossover anyway, would just get himself an auto.”

      Yes yes yes yes. My thoughts exactly.

      I live in a part of the world where most cars are manual and everyone knows how to drive them but I don’t see the point, personally. I like to leave the cog-swapping to someone else. And I absolutely don’t understand why the average driver around here buys manual after manual after manual when they clearly have no interest in it and get nothing out of it. I’ve ridden with people that were absolutely terrible at picking gears, at shifting between them, and at (ab)using the clutch. Yet they bought a manual, for no apparent reason.