Last Call- Stick With It Edition


I’d give this truck a wide berth, and its driver a thumbs up – both for being a responsible driver, and for taking the challenge of three-pedal mastery. The world needs more stick shifters!

Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day. It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.

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68 responses to “Last Call- Stick With It Edition”

  1. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Well, that's an easy one for her to learn on.

  2. $kaycog Avatar

    Another way to warn other motorists.
    <img src=""width="500"/&gt;

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Who could be a responsible driver with that…? Reminds me of something, too:
      <img src="; width="600">

  3. frankthecat Avatar

    <img src="; width="600">
    After spending 3 hours repairing the ignition switch, this rough-around the edges black 1997 Saab 900s 2.3L 5-door hatch is now mine! I've named him Garrus, after Garrus Vakarian, my spirit animal.
    Watch the forums for my thread about this handsome beast.

    1. frankthecat Avatar

      <img src="; width=600>
      This is everything, minus the trim for the shifter/heater controls, that I had to take off to get at said ignition switch.

      1. Paul E Avatar
        Paul E

        Was it the switch or the ignition tumbler? The key/lock tumbler comes out VERY easily… the switch and console… well, you already know that one.

        1. frankthecat Avatar

          The switch. Which required pulling the shifter assembly and flipping it upside down to remove. Then I had to drill out the super convenient rivets Saab put in to keep you from opening it, to find all of the contacts were dirty/covered in soot. Made half of the electrics (including the fuel pump and ignition) not work anymore.
          Cleaned it up using some 1200 grit sandpaper and electrical contact cleaner, used some wood screws to close it back up, and now it's a-okay. Beats paying $80 for a new one.

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Yesss. Join usss.

      1. frankthecat Avatar

        Once I get the title and plate it.
        And then replace the oil filler cap/dipstick and do an oil change.
        Then it should be good (enough) to drive.

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          That cap/dipstick is a stupid pants-on-head design. It doesn't help that it's impossible to read unless you dry it completely… especially if your oil level's precisely at the bottom of the acceptable level and you're trying to go by the lights of a gas station island.
          For example.
          Let me know how your SID is doing, and which false errors it indicates. 🙂

          1. frankthecat Avatar

            Yeah, the dipstick is another one of those things that I don't understand why Saab did it differently. Like their love of torx screws. In my case the yellow cap cracked so it doesn't screw down, and it's been letting moisture in.
            SID is barely readable, and doesn't chime anymore. Lack of blinker noises is going to motivate me to fix it. Not displaying any errors, strangely.

  4. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Fair warning. And a far better steed than the auto Fairmont that was my drivers ed car. And as much as a stick shift is now a fail safe theft deterrent, we have to grow the craft as we can. Otherwise we'll evolve into a species without left legs.

  5. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Crop circles explained:
    <img src="; width="600">

  6. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    The last photo I saw like this was also of a Ranger… hmm.

  7. P161911 Avatar

    I too learned to drive a stick shift on a similar vintage Ford product using, most likely the same transmission, but in about as different a vehicle as possible, a 1992 Ford Thunderbird S/C. 315ft. lbs. of torque at 2600rpm meant if I gave it enough gas, it DIDI NOT STALL.
    Still not sure why Ford felt the T-5 was adequate for the Mustang GT/5.0L, but the T-Bird S/C needed a Mazda truck transmission out of a F-150 or Ranger.

  8. ptschett Avatar

    "I am keeping my distance! I stopped a whole 16 inches behind them on this steep uphill incline!" – slushbox driver
    I do have to say, after 3 years & 39k miles with it, my Challenger is still tricky to launch well with pokey people in front of me or otherwise needing to get a gentle precise start… I bounce off the torsion damper springs a few times then.
    (By myself, I tap the gas to rev the engine as I'm starting to let my left foot come up, trying to catch the engine revs on their way down and then giving it however much gas I want. Problem is, that's more acceleration than most people in front of me will give their cars.)

  9. stigshift Avatar

    I taught a lady friend of mine to drive stick on a Bay Window VW Bus. After everyone in her family had given up on her ever being able to do so.. She still drives stick to this day. Her family could never figure out how I could actually teach her. I've actually taught several people, and am awaiting starting to teach my crazy hippie chick neighbor to drive in my Miata. We're both Aries though. Hell, it's a tough old car…

    1. ToLiveNDieInNJ Avatar

      Crystals prevent stalls, haven't you heard?

    2. dead_elvis Avatar

      That's about the most forgiving clutch ever. 1st gear in my 71 Bus was absolutely perfect for start-stop city crawling. Idle was about 2 mph with a tailwind, and the Type 2 acceleration meant little need for braking in that sort of situation.

    3. Sjalabais Avatar

      Feels good, doesn't it? I showed two friends how to drive (even though in Europe you must drive a stick shift in school). Fun fact: A Volvo 240 with a B230FX will start to roll when you turn on the engine in 1st without engaged parking brake. So it wasn't a hard car to learn in.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I taught my friend to drive stick in my B230F 244 with a new clutch and M47. He did better in that than he's done in later lessons… in a less-torquey-from-idle Saab NG900 with a terrible clutch, of course.
        When I first brought the 244 home from the shop after the clutch was replaced, the mechanic hadn't aligned the reverse lockout and the bushings were shot, so I started her in third, easily got her going, but wondered where all my power went… drove her until she was written off (not my fault) by starting in whatever gear I wanted, pulling up on the lockout for first/second. Taught my friend that way, too. No problems. (Yes, I made him start in third on flat ground. He did it.)

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Wow. I had to replace the clutch in my 245, too. When I came to my non-Volvo-mechanic, he asked me wtf I had bought, if I thought I was driving a truck. Turned out, it fit where it was supposed to.

  10. dukeisduke Avatar

    I learned to drive in a girlfriend's Datsun B-210 5-speed, and it took me about a week to get the hang of it. The hardest thing to get used to was starting off on an uphill grade. More than once I let the car gradually roll back into the car behind me (no one honked!) and used it to hold me while I started off.
    Later on I got to drive my sister's car, an '83 Camaro with a 305 and a 5-speed. That was a little more fun, a car with enough torque that I could start off in second gear. I enjoyed driving that.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      Many (i.e. 10) years ago my '96 Thunderbird was in the shop for the 1st rebuild of its weakling 4R70W autobox. For the better part of a month I was driving one of my dad's Dodge Dakotas (a '95 V6 5-speed 4×4 club-cab… the other one was the same, but a '93) in its place, commuting from my off-campus apartment in the fashionable(?) south side of Brookings, SD to the South Dakota State University campus on the north side of town.
      My usual route had a pretty good hill start at the 6th Street & 22nd Avenue intersection. I'm proud to say that I never rolled back into someone while launching at that intersection – but I have to say there were days that I felt that if I had rolled back, the person behind me would have had it coming.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        The 4R40W used in the trucks must be stronger, because the one in my '95 F-150 was pretty trouble free, for the 214k that I owned it. The only issue I ever saw was an occasional shudder on torque converter clutch locking/unlocking, and changing the fluid fixed that. It had a torque converter drain plug, which made fluid changes easier, and mine came with the Super Engine Cooling package, which included a large trans cooler mounted in front of the heavy duty radiator.

  11. MrHowser Avatar

    I need to teach the Missus to drive stick. Should I…
    1) Teach her in the old beater Jeep with tricky clutch, but plenty of torque, or…
    2) Teach her in the CR-V, which has a more progressive clutch, but not enough torque to make no-throttle starts possible?
    The CRV is the vehicle we want to keep long-term. The Jeep is currently for sale.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Jeep. Easy learner vehicle (3/4 kids in our household learned on one).

    2. jeepjeff Avatar

      I'd go with the beater Jeep. I personally feel that adding in the gas pedal on a simpler clutch is easier than learning a heavier and trickier clutch. Which means the Jeep will leave her able to drive anything.
      This may actually be an argument for getting her to learn twice, first on the CR-V and then the Jeep before you sell it.
      (And I say this with the intention of teaching my wife to drive my Jeep.)

      1. dead_elvis Avatar

        Heartily 2nd-ed. Learned to drive stick on a beat 83 Wagoneer with a sketchy clutch & transmission, haven't had any real trouble with "eccentric" shifting or double-clutching ever since.

  12. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    My plan for my kids' first cars is that they must be manual. If your first car is a stick, it'll be second nature and preferable from then on.
    Don't tell me manuals won't be around in 13/15 years, as they'll be driving 20 year old vehicles anyway.

  13. Preludacris Avatar

    Friend is car shopping. Female, hairdresser, currently drives PT Cruiser that all of our friends hate. And reasonably so. She deserves a cooler car and ideally one that doesn't scream hairdresser, because it's not her whole identity. But 'cute' wouldn't hurt, she says.
    Can be stick but doesn't have to be, good on gas, needs to have 4 or 5 doors, a bonus (but not necessary) would be just a little more ground clearance than average small cars.
    So far tossed around: Mazda 3 or Protege, Honda Fit, wildcard Suzuki Samurai.
    Ruled out: Dodge Neon, VW anything.
    Budget $7k.
    Go. 🙂

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Do 7k buy you 5 cylinders?
      <img src="; width="600">

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        Yes. But Volvos are so rare. (She might like that though.) I don't know squat about them, actually. Are they pretty easy to maintain? Are part prices normal?

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Easy to maintain, yes, famously so. But many parts are pricy. A bonus with the gorgeous and rare C70 is that all the vitals are shared with sedan and wagon (S & V70, respectively). You will be doing all the labour?

          1. Preludacris Avatar

            Now that I went and said "rare," I saw THREE Volvos on my way to work, and two of them were right in a row. I don't know what they were. Same wrapper, different size package, alphanumeric soup names, WHY?
            I just looked up the C70 and it does look really nice but carrying people is a priority for her. I wonder if she can put up with the staid looks of the more mundane Volvos. I will run it past her.
            I will end up doing brakes and stuff like that for her, but engine work is out of my depth.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            Ah, okay…so four doors are a big bonus? Questionable if she would want a family car?
            The alphanumeric soup actually makes a lot of sense. Or it did at one point in time, before the marketing department was allowed to f* it all up. Report back on what her choice will be. I'm used to be consulted about cars by friends, too, but in my neck of the woods "some Japanese station wagon" is the best answer to most questions.

          3. Preludacris Avatar

            She's single but likes to be able to carry friends. So it shouldn't scream family car, but should be somewhat practical.
            "some Japanese station wagon" is likely a pretty good answer to this question too, honestly.

          4. Sjalabais Avatar

            No kids, you say? Then there is the big question hovering above all.
            "How much cool can you carry?"
            <img src=""&gt;
            That said, the first C70 Coupé will actually seat four grown-ups decently – occasionally.
            <img src=""&gt;
            Probably enough Volvo-propaganda for today, but I'd say there is a reason why so many Volvo-drivers are emotionally attached to their cars. Worth a try. 8)

    2. salguod Avatar

      The Mazdas are good, stylish, reliable choices but watch for rust. My '05 Mazda3 hatch has been quite reliable (closing in on 130K) but is getting rusty, unfortunately. If looking at Proteges, get the sporty Protege5. Unique and a riot to drive.
      The Fit is a good choice too, a bit less attractive but roomy and it'll just keep going and going.

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        I like the Protege5 myself, luckily we live in an area where rust isn't too big of a concern.
        So far I've been gunning for the Fit for her but we'll see.

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

          As far as ground clearance… I'm going to point you toward a Suzuki SX/4 without ever having driven one. Small five-door hatchback, optional AWD, and you can *probably* still get parts for the next decade, especially if you're willing to make inquiries in Europe…
          …Hey, it's an idea.

          1. Preludacris Avatar

            She drove one on Monday, and texted me that didn't like it. I haven't seen her since last week so I'm not sure what she didn't like about it. Seems pretty likeable to me.

    3. MVEilenstein Avatar

      It's not for everybody, I know, but my wife is a hairdresser, and she loves this car.
      <img src=""&gt;
      <a href="” target=”_blank”>

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Always wondered why people would use these bras… I get the point of conservation, but for what? If it is hidden under a layer of ugliness, it will only be conserved for the next owner?

        1. MVEilenstein Avatar

          Worse, you'll end up with mismatched paint, and the paint under the cover will be scratched.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            That makes the worst marketing slogan for a mindless product.

      2. frankthecat Avatar

        I sat in one of these once. I honestly do not understand how the engineers managed to make that interior so cramped for a medium-large car.

        1. MVEilenstein Avatar

          I don't know, either. All I know is my wife keeps asking for one, having driven it for a week on a business trip. She likes the ride height.

  14. Batshitbox Avatar

    Bit of a yarn, but bear with me: Two friends of mine washed back up on the shores of our old home town after an epic gutter-punk tramp around the country. They returned in a classic biker van, with lake pipes and black primer and an Ass, Gas or Grass sticker and everything; said they traded a couple of sleeping bags for it down in Texas. Then they asked me to teach them how to drive it. I sez, You drove it back to New England from Texas, didn't you? Well, yes, they sez, but it's a standard and we don't know how to drive a standard. What the hell, I sez, you want me to teach you how to drive a van you already drove 1000 miles, this ought to be a piece of cake.
    It was a 3-on-the-tree, which was a bit different from the Toyota Starlet I learned on but okay. I took them down to a quiet road along my paper route where I had learned to drive the Starlet, and commenced to pontificating on the finer points. Up the road and down the road we went until Clyde (not his real name) was ready to take his turn at the wheel. I squatted between the chairs while Bonnie (not her real name) rode shotgun.
    Clyde gets 'er off the line without stalling and after completing the 2nd gear lesson he disappears. Just not there anymore. He had jumped out of the driver's seat and over my shoulder,barely touching me, and disappeared into the mess of hippie shit in the back of the van. Can't see him.
    What I can see is an empty driver's seat, and I can tell the van's still in gear and gallumphing down the road, the captain having abandoned the helm. So I jump in and get everything back under control. Check my situation, clear ahead, Bonnie still in her seat, clutch in, engine still running, and a town police car lighting up the side view mirror. Son. Of. A. Bitch. Engine off, into gear, window down. Smile.
    Well, this was after all my home town. The cop that came up to my window sez, Oh, Hi Batshitbox (not my real name) it's you. I sez Hi, Officer Obie (not his real name). He sez, Do you know why I'm pulling you over? (Bonnie and Clyde had gone through the trouble of getting the rig titled and reg'd, thank the stars.) Naw, I sez, naw I don't. You're a suspicious vehicle, he sez. A neighbor reported a loud assed biker van cruising slowly up and down the road and thought you might be casing houses.
    We look funny, we sound funny, and we act funny? That's why you're pulling me over? Ha! Naw, man I'm just teaching Bonnie here, remember Bonnie? Hi, Bonnie. Hi, Obie! Anyway she bought this van and I'm teaching her how to drive a 3-on-the-tree. Yep, just me and Bonnie and nobody else in this here van. We're all okay here… How're you?
    Obie said maybe we should go down to the industrial park, it being Sunday, and figure it out there. So we did. About 5 minutes after Obie let us go Clyde pops up between the chairs and pushes the cigarette lighter in, like nothing happened. Clyde, it turned out, had a lot of warrants out on him. And a lot of places to hide in that old biker van.
    Learning stick, yes, can be a challenge, and an adventure. But teaching stick? Fucking rabbit hole.
    (Bonnie and Clyde are still good friends of mine, and more importantly are, after a respectable purgatory in the tech sector, gleefully once again driving a big assed van around the country selling their artworks.) (I believe it's an automatic.)

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      If you'd live in Hollywood, you could stretch that to 90 minutes. Nice story! 🙂

  15. racer139 Avatar

    GM seemed to dumb down the standard transmission in the mid ninties. Seems everyone I drive needs near as makes no difference no throttle input. The heavy flywheel makes for easy starts but makes a terrible machine to match revs or even shift in high rpms. I recomend teaching somone clutch take up and basic shifting in one simply for the ease of use. If your going into a advanced lession on how to really drive a standard equipped vehicle including down shifting and rev matching use an mid eighties econo box like a tercel or semi sports car like a crx.

    1. Preludacris Avatar

      I dunno about the Tercel. My buddy's '86 four speed is probably the easiest vehicle I've* ever driven…
      *note I've never driven a truck or anything new with a stick

  16. GTXcellent Avatar

    Fun to read about the different vehicles everyone learned how to drive stick in. For me, it was a 1965 C-10 I bought when I was 17 years old for the princely sum of $200. 283, 4 speed – with a 4:10 rearend and 'granny' gear making 1st basically unusable for normal driving purposes. The clutch was almost shot and on the motor side, the lobes on the cam shaft were WELL worn, so it really took a lot of "feathering" between throttle pedal and clutch pedal to get that old truck rolling. It was the perfect vehicle to learn on.

  17. R.L. Elliott Avatar
    R.L. Elliott

    I learned in a friend's spanking new '71 Vega 2300! He put me at the back of the parking lot of his apartment, instructed me to drive up to the front driveway, reverse and repeat. Then he went upstairs to take a shower. I did a couple, then boldly entered the street, drove up to the other entrance, and completed the circle. The next day, he made me drive him to work. I had one scary incidence of rollback on a hill, but to this day, I will not own ANY small 4 cylinder car unless it is a manual. I waited six months for delivery of my daily driver Honda because I wanted a manual; paddle shifters on an econobox auto are just play toys! Give me FULL involvement! 🙂

  18. msb Avatar

    Learned in a VW mini bus with shag carpet and orange curtains. 1st 3rd and 5th were the only gears that actually worked 2nd and 4th never really worked and if you could get into those gears it would pop back out. Reverse was a whole different story. I'll leave it at i made it a point to not park in a position that would require me to use it. Hated the damn thing. Now that im older wish she was still around for camping and putting around. I knew more BeeGees than any other 16 year old in the late 90s thanks to that 8track.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      VW Bus with a 5 speed? No. Not in the 8-track era, not ever.
      Note: Neither Vanagons nor EuroVans are Buses.

  19. CalculatedRisk Avatar

    When I learned stick, I learned everything at once. A '67 fiat 600 has the clutch feel of a dump truck and a blistering 23 HP. Theres also no synchros, or they were worn slap out on this thing. The shifter was also pretty crappy, reverse took a well memorized punch and slap to engage. When I stepped up to my '88 Prelude rev-matched, heel toe downshifts were a breeze, especially since double clutching was a thing of the past! Driving a stick, and doing it well, is a dying art.

  20. salguod Avatar

    Taught my older daughter to drive a stick in her '98 Escort. Minimal power and one of the most unforgiving clutches I've driven.
    After a few failed attempts at starting out, I decided to tell her to leave her right foot off the gas and just get the car moving by easing the clutch out. She fairly quickly learned to feel the friction point and reliably was able to get the car rolling with no throttle. I then instructed her on coordinating the two. Seemed to work well and it's the method I'll use for the other two when their time comes.
    The other thing I told her starting out was that if she was stuck on a hill and worried about getting going, just mash the gas and pop the clutch. She'll make a lot of noise and have a dramatic take off, but she won't roll back into the car behind.

  21. MVEilenstein Avatar

    My first manual transmission vehicle was grandpa's 61 F-100, with the 3-speed column shift. I still remember my brother and I standing around it, trying to figure out why there were four pedals on the floor, but no shifter. Well, we managed to figure out, and I've been hooked ever since.

  22. FЯeeMan Avatar

    A) my current DD is an 03 VW Passat 1.8 5mt purchased expressly for my kids to learn on. They've all done great, including the 14 yo. The 18 yo will get back to his 98 Legacy wagon 5mt when boot camp is over. (assuming i can get the motor back together for him)
    2) the mobile theme for Hooniverse is awesome, except that yesterday, it seems to have lost the next (more recent) post arrow. Am i the only one? Previous (older post) arrow is sill there.
    III) The mobile theme for atomic toasters had come and gone at random for many months now.

  23. R Henry Avatar
    R Henry

    I took my 201 Kia Forte 6sp. manual into Costco for new tires recently. Nobody there knew how to drive it, so they pushed it in and out of the service bay.

  24. jjd241 Avatar

    Here is a random Craig's List posting I thought belonged here…….
    <img src="; title="Hosted by" /></a width=500>

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      Another northwest commenter. There must be a dozen of us.

  25. BobWellington Avatar

    I learned on – oh, wait, I still haven't learned other than on a tractor. Since no one has a manual for me to learn on it's kind of hard (and when I was getting a car I didn't want a manual for some odd reason that I'll never know). My granddad had a '90s Dakota with a stick shift – but that got sold before I was of age. One of these days I'll find the opportunity…

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