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Return of Stick Shift Sought at Clutch Time
I’m a little miffed at the American Automobile Industry.
(I know, I know. Join the club.)
The object of my disaffection, however, puts me in a category of American-Automobile-Industry-Miffed-At Person that I have pretty much to myself, at least when compared with the People Who Bought Chevy Vegas or This-Is-Gonna-Cost-HOW-Much-To-Fix? categories.
My dissatisfaction comes from the fact that it is pretty much impossible to get a new pickup truck with a manual transmission anymore.
Hey, when I have a complaint, at least I try to make it interesting.
I’ve been dinking around on the various automaker websites, checking out various models of truck and their options, and the fact is you can’t get a manual transmission unless you buy one of those Super Heavy Duty Giganto Four Wheel Drive Turbo Diesel Mammoth Mountain Mover models with the optional Roof Mounted Searchlight, E-Z Access Rope Ladder and Fire-Breathing Exhaust Pipes.
This is a little more truck than I need, seeing as how my driving is pretty much limited to work, errands and the occasional pleasure trip, and not hauling trailers full of large zoo animals. Not that I see a lot of that happening. In fact, most of the Super Heavy Duty trucks I’ve seen lately are going to work, running errands and taking the family on the occasional pleasure trip.
Anyway, if you want a good, basic full size pickup truck, it looks like you have to take it with automatic transmission, which to me calls the whole “basic” thing into question.
So why am I so stuck on a manual transmission?
Well, for starters, look at the name: Manual. Manly. A manual transmission is a manly transmission, perfectly suited for the American male who deep inside has imagined himself barreling down the open road, jamming gears on a semi full of contraband beer while Burt Reynolds gets ol’ Smokey off your tail, or some such ridiculous movie kind of thing.
Also, I think a manual transmission puts you in greater control of the vehicle. Actually, the automatic transmission is one of the worst innovations in history, because it makes bad driving too easy. It allows people to think they can multi-task (talk on the phone, eat, fix makeup, read the newspaper) while driving, which is just nuts. Driving IS multi-tasking. You have to operate a piece of heavy machinery while maneuvering through traffic. And as we all have seen, that appears to be one task too many for a lot of people.
And finally, I’m convinced that unless you’re driving some super-deluxe six-figure sports car, a manual transmission is your best defense against car thieves. It’s just a theory, but I’m betting most car thieves these days couldn’t drive a stick shift on the best day they ever had. And it’s quieter than the car alarm that blasted for the better part of a half-hour last night about half a block from my house.
So, American Automobile Industry, I ask you: In the name of better vehicular control, better mileage, lower crime rates and much more manliness, please give some thought to restoring manual transmissions to basic full-size pickups. Do this and surely you will sell at least one, to me …
One of these days. My truck is running great and I don’t need a new one yet. And the manual transmission works just great. Hope you’re not miffed.
© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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