Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Driving is a joy with a 5-speed
I am amused by the responses I get when the subject of an automatic transmission vs. manual transmission comes up in conversation.
“You want a manual transmission?” the salesman asked me in a voice of disbelief.
I smiled. “Yes.”
There are those of us who grew up in a home where a stick shift was the only acceptable way of driving a car. I learned to drive a car with a stick. I insisted my sons learn the same way. “Oh, don’t do that to them,” some of my friends said at the time. “They need to learn to control a car first. Making them learn to shift gears is asking too much of a new driver.”
On Christmas Day back when they were in high school, I took them to the parking lot of a local shopping center, the only day of the year when that lot was empty, to teach them how to shift gears. Our black Lab, Teri, sat calmly in the backseat, not knowing, or caring, what was going on in the front seat! They caught on quickly to the coordination needed between your hand on the gear shift and your foot on the clutch.
All of my driving life, except for the last 9 years, I have had a car with a manual transmission. For whatever reason, my father’s last car had an automatic transmission. When he died soon after buying it, I kept it since it was essentially a new car, with less than 20,000 miles on it. I learned to accept driving with an automatic, but my heart will always be with a 5-speed.
“I tried to learn to drive a 5-speed,” someone told me this week. “It just didn’t work for me.”
“It’s too much trouble to shift gears,” another person said.
“I only have two manual transmissions on the lot and at this price, I can’t go get one from another dealer,” the salesman said to me. “One is black and the other is the dark gray that you just drove.”
“I’ll take the gray,”
It’s fun driving a 5-speed. I feel I am engaged in the ride. That is why I seldom use cruise control on my car. If you aren’t shifting gears and controlling the speed with your foot on the accelerator, you are just sitting there.