Thursday, October 04, 2007

manual vs. automatic


In today's New York Times Automobile section, writer Richard Chang wanted to find out from readers whether or not driving a stick-shift (manual) transmission car was considered a life skill. For me, it is. To most people who drive in the United States, it isn't.

Up until I moved to California, I only knew how to drive an automatic. My cousin Wilgee's first car was a Lancia (don't remember the model type) and I was jealous that he already learned to drive stick-shift. Determined to learn, I got my first chance when a co-worker graciously agreed to take me out in her Honda Civic in the back parking lot of Tanforan Mall in San Bruno over 20 years ago.

With only that afternoon as my experience in stick-shift driving, I bought my first manual transmission car, an Acura Integra, less than a year later. The salesman had to drive my car home. For the next month, I went out every night to practice. It took me about 3 weeks before I considered myself proficient enough to drive to any part of San Francisco.

I haven't gone back to an automatic transmission car since. I'm on my fourth manual transmission car and plan on driving them until I physically am no longer able. Sure, there's the control that everyone talks about. But for me, it's just a lot more fun. The coordination of clutch pedal, shifting and accelerating takes skill and is something I can boastfully say I've mastered.

image courtesy of BMW

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I just had to give up my automatic transmission after a drunk driver hit me and totaled my car (pictures in my blog). The only thing I didn't like about that car was the automatic transmission. I just picked up the same car a few days ago, but a 5 speed. It is so great to be back to driving a stick! This car FLIES over the mountains here and uses even less car than my old car!

I *heart* manual Jettas.