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Old 07-01-2009, 11:53 AM   #1
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Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

I was just doing some research for a project I want to do and I came across this article and it scared me. But I like how it discribes the automatic Mustang Vs. the manual Mustang.


Add manual transmissions to the endangered species list
By John Pearley Huffman

Buy BMW's high-performance M5 sedan or M6 coupe and you get the seven-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) in the bargain whether you like it or not. Porsche promises that its latest version of the 911 Turbo will run from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds when the driver has a six-speed manual transmission to stir — but only takes 3.4 seconds when there's a five-speed Tiptronic automatic aboard. Somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of the Ferrari F430s that come to America have the "F1-inspired" electronically triggered and hydraulically actuated transmission installed. Every Mercedes SLR McLaren comes with a five-speed automatic. Where the high end goes, the rest of the industry eventually follows. And the way this is going, the clutch pedal is doomed.

Automatics have outsold manual transmissions since at least the '60s, and electronic switches have been systematically replacing levers and human effort throughout the history of modern automobiles (and most of the rest of life, too). So most drivers will never miss manual transmissions when they disappear forever — in the same way that they don't miss window cranks, unassisted steering or running around their car to make sure all the doors are locked. But for anyone who enjoys driving, this is bad news because we're approaching the moment when there's no direct connection between man and machine; even in cars that are supposed to be quick, entertaining and engaging, everything a driver asks them to do will be in the form of a request to computerized intermediaries. Intermediaries that virtually always put other interests ahead of the driver's will.

In a bus, cab or hearse, losing the mechanical connection between driver and drivetrain is no big deal. But in a sports car….

Losing focus
Chevrolet began planting a new optional six-speed automatic in the Corvette's hind end this year, and for the first time in a Corvette, shifts in that automatic transmission can be triggered using switches mounted on the steering wheel — thumb tabs above the 9 and 3 o'clock spokes for upshifts, three-finger paddles behind those spokes for downshifts.

Puttering around town in "D" running errands, the new Corvette automatic is fine; the shifts are clean and seamless and the combination of a steeply overdriven (0.67:1) 6th gear and teeter-top 2.56:1 final drive ratio mean the engine barely turns faster than idle during a 65-mph cruise. The only hiccup comes when, accelerating from that cruise, the driver has to wait for the transmission to knock down two, three or maybe four gears to put the engine in the meat of its thick torque curve.

But for God's sake, if all you're doing is puttering around don't buy a 400-horsepower plastic two-seat sports car to do it in. Manually shifting the transmission with those triggers is an exercise in abject frustration; the upshifts take too long and the downshifts take even longer. Dive into a corner while downshifting and you're already past the apex by the time the gear you asked for is served up. And if your thumb is long enough to find that top trigger easily, seek out a zoologist and have him do a species check. It's not that the automatic-equipped Corvette isn't a blisteringly quick car (an automatic convertible C6 will rocket to 60 in 5.3 seconds — just a half-second worse than a manual coupe), but the reflexes to support that speed aren't as sharp or engaging. The car feels somewhat lazy. And elements that are part of the exciting, burly full-immersion experience in the manual-tranny car (like the heavy steering) become just annoying.

The automatic Corvette is philosophically at war with itself; a sports car with an engineered-in internal contradiction. Ferraris with the F1 transmission and Porsches running the Tiptronic suffer from this same fuzzy confusion, even if they're quicker with their electronically controlled gearboxes than with manual ones. But since the new transmission's introduction, 65 percent of new Corvettes (excluding the manual-only Z06) have been delivered with it aboard. So Chevy must be happy, and those buyers likely don't know what they're missing.

Changing character
The four-seat Mustang GT is a simpler, cheaper and less focused car than the Corvette, and it suffers less when there's an automatic aboard. But it's still a drastic change in character. The automatic Mustang GT — particularly in convertible form — is more party barge than muscle machine. Pack some friends aboard, throw in some toys and the world's worries melt away. With a 5.9-second 0-60 time, the automatic Mustang GT convertible is still quick but it's not a car that's begging to be pushed. It's a cruiser with attitude and that is no bad thing — a car that's fun in a social sense but not all that mechanically entertaining.

The manual-transmission Mustang GT, on the other hand (the right hand, which is making the shifts), is a car that when pushed, pushes back. It's an elemental car where the shifts are stout and you can feel the torque surging through the transmission with each shift. Turn the traction control off, and the hand you leave on the steering wheel feels the tire patches up front while the hand on the shifter monitors the slips and hiccups in back. Sophisticated? No way. Fun? All the time — torque, horsepower and a lever stirring gears like a circus novelty act.

Protecting cars from drivers
Taking the driver out of the shifting business is good business for the manufacturers. Even the very best modern shiftable automatic — VW/Audi's brilliant dual-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) — will keep the driver from doing anything that might harm the drivetrain. Why even mark the red line on a tachometer if the computers won't allow it to be exceeded anyhow?

Precise computer controls make meeting emissions and fuel-economy goals more straightforward; they can protect against driver behavior that can result in warranty claims, plus the market long ago showed it preferred automatics. And in raw performance, there is less and less measurable advantage for manual transmissions. Throw in the rise of computer-dependent hybrids and other technologies and it's hard to see how manual transmissions can long survive.

Sigh. Electronics promise a lot that's good for the future of personal transportation. But we're losing something valuable, too.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:09 PM   #2
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

it may be faster, but the fun factor is NOT there so I doubt there will ever be an end to them
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

Yeah that is what I was thinkin but then again most people today are not fun or fit to have a manual trans.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:57 PM   #4
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

you will never have the fun in an auto car that you have in a true stick car.

perfect example if I run the mustang from a roll I have to manually pull the auto trans down in second or third. If I let it downshift itself the other car will pull a whole car length or more before my cars starts pulling.
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:03 PM   #5
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

a true manuamatic has most advantages of a true manual as you can hold rpms etc how ever you want~ they just need a launch system to handle "feathering" but... at the end of the day they are fast... I would sacrifice speed for fun any day though
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:43 PM   #6
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

Its just the evolution of technology, eventually no manual will ever compete with an automatic in function. Just like aircraft went from cables and levers to fly-by-wire, it's just the way it goes. Yes, I agree that manual trans. is more "fun" when you are out joyriding, but the simple fact is that 90% of cars are purchased to be transportation, and probably 90% of the "sports cars" are driven just as transportation for 90% of the time. Ask Markuz about his automatic corvette and the automatic T/A he had before that. I doubt he bought automatics because he hates fun, it just wasn't worth the hassle to have to always be rowing gears the majority of the time when you are just cruising through town and not rolling-go racing down the parkway or interstate.

Building your cars for the small percentage of people that want the "true link between man and machine" ideal is pretty much why mustang outsold camaro a million to one. When automatic transmissions are infinitely better than manuals in gas mileage and performance, I wouldn't expect any major production vehicles to come equipped with a manual.

I doubt manual transmissions will ever be "extinct". They'll just end up being what people use when they are building a fun car. Much like my dad's generation would still rather build a good old 327/350 than go out and buy a "newfangled computer mess" LS1, even though the performance is there. (I realize there is a legitimate price concern as well) Its just more fun to be able to tinker around with your engine with a wrench instead of a laptop.
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Old 07-01-2009, 08:06 PM   #7
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

When i had my v6 mustang i felt like i was just aiming the car down the road. In my gt with a 5 speed I feel like i am in complete control.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:27 PM   #8
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

In many other smaller countries all you can find are manual cars. Here in the U.S., more and more people are turning to autos. New drivers are learning on their parents cars that are autos, and many of their first cars are autos as well. As the younger generations continue to be surrounded by automatic suvs, vans, and sedans, they will continue to frown upon manuals cars of all types because they aren't exposed to them enough.

Hopefully the clutch pedal will remain in some cars, and not disappear entirely.

The first manual car I ever drove was an 04 Mach 1 when I was 15...just felt great
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Old 07-01-2009, 10:27 PM   #9
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

i learned in my mom's 2 cars, a mercury sable and a ford explorer, both with auto's... my first car, 96 protege with a stick. Luckly my dad was one of those guys that rathered the old 302 type engines and my mom had learned on some older cars as well, i picked up driving a stick very quickly and wouldn't have anything other, even in stop go city traffic.

some people don't like shifting in traffic, but if you go to a hydraulic clutch that is easy to push, i don't see why there would be any difference, the protege i have has a very light clutch compared to my 94 gt... i would drive either one in traffic and never even think of owning an auto.
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:05 AM   #10
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

replace a clutch, pp & tob 300$, rebuild a auto 3000$
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:06 AM   #11
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

everyone told me before I got my 01 that I would grow to hate a manual car... those are the ones I do not call enthusiasts .... as I love it more than ever.
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Old 07-02-2009, 10:49 AM   #12
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

Yeah I agree with you SpectorV. When I was looking to find my First car in december of 08 my uncle, one of thoses "I would grow to hate a manual person" (him his self have had many) told me that when I was looking at a 5spd V6. Now that isnt the reason I didnt get it. My dad felt more comfortable with me in an automatic then in a manual in the winter. Oh well they will both be cryin when I buy my Shelby (some day).
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Old 07-06-2009, 10:52 AM   #13
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

It's pretty bad when even the military has gone fully auto. The duce and a half's and five tons used to be a manual, but now even they've gone automatic. Personally, if it's not a sports car or heavy duty truck used for towing, a five/six speed has no place in an automobile. But of course this is why I don't work for a car company and never will.
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Old 07-06-2009, 11:52 PM   #14
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

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Originally Posted by 19Delta View Post
It's pretty bad when even the military has gone fully auto. The duce and a half's and five tons used to be a manual, but now even they've gone automatic.
I remember watching a show about humvees. They had an AM General exec. doing an interview while driving one. I remember him talking about how they were going to make the humvees manual, but figured the majority of troops wouldn't know/be able to drive a stick shift, so they put in hd auto trannys.

Making duece and a half's automatic is pretty bad though, that's a full size truck.
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Old 07-07-2009, 04:58 AM   #15
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Re: Manual Transmissions due to be endangered??

I'm sad to say that up until 3 years ago I couldn't drive a stick. Then I started selling cars. It's amazing how many customer's would run screaming because their salesman can't drive a stick. After my 3rd week I had one of my manager's let me take a used manual we were sending to auction and went out with an old timer who was teaching me the ropes all ready. Took me a couple days to feel comfortable but man it's an empowering feeling. I bought an auto because I still wasn't a pro with a stick and I'll be honest, Vegas traffic with a manual would drive me nuts. But when I get my GT or better I'm keeping the 6 for daily abuse and the weekend car's gonna be stick all the way.
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