There is a growing campaign among car lovers to “Save The Manuals,” spearheaded by Eddie Alterman, the editor for Car and Driver magazine. The idea is to keep the manual transmission alive and there are some good reasons to do so.
The eternal debate
Some things are eternally up for debate among enthusiasts, such as Coke or Pepsi, Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, or manual or automatic transmissions. In the case of the latter, consumers have spoken as fewer than 10 percent of cars sold in the United States have manual transmissions, according to Time magazine.
In fact, according to NPR, the balance has been tipped in the favor of automatics since the mid-1950s, when the number of cars made with automatic transmissions reached parity with those made with manuals and accelerated away. As of 1990, according to Fox Business, 22.2 percent of cars on the road had a stick shift and by 2010, it dwindled to just 6.7 percent.
One man has had enough
Eddie Alterman, editor for Car and Driver magazine, according to Time, has had enough. He launched a campaign in 2010 called “Save The Manuals,” devoted to restoring the manual transmission to its former glory. There is even a Facebook “Save The Manuals” page. It might seem anachronistic, but there are some good reasons to “Save the Manuals.”
Manuals cost less
First, as Alterman points out, manual transmissions can get better gas mileage. This advantage has narrowed significantly, as continuously variable transmissions and automatics with six or more speeds can be more efficient than five-speed manuals. He also observes, according to NPR, that texting while driving is impossible with a manual.
For instance, the Ford Focus gets 26 mpg city, 36 highway with a five-speed manual, but 28 city, 38 highway with a six-speed automatic, but the Chevrolet Sonic 1LT gets 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway with a five-speed manual compared to the 2LT with a six-speed auto, which gets 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway. In both cases, the manual transmission also costs less to buy at the dealership.
Manuals also usually cost less to repair as they have far fewer moving parts, which means fewer things can go wrong.
Possible theft deterrent
According to Fox Business, fewer thieves make off with stick-shifted cars. There are occasional news stories that pop up of thieves being foiled by a manual. For instance, a story appeared in the Tampa Bay Times in December 2011 of two would-be carjackers that held up a man and his girlfriend at gun point, but fled on foot because neither could drive stick.
There is also the fun of rowing the gears manually. The driver is more engaged in the driving, which is more challenging and can be more rewarding than simply selecting “D.” Then again, balancing clutch, brake and throttle while stopped in traffic on a hill can induce heart palpitations.
Save The Manuals Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-the-Manuals/125741200803024
Fox Business: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/03/28/stick-shift-anti-theft-device/
Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/two-would-be-carjackers-in-st-petersburg-foiled-by-cars-stick-shift/1204496