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  • Very, very interesting article. I will be looking into buying a new car in March, it should be really interesting to see what will be on the Used and New car lots then.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    We're still looking for consumers who bought used vehicles (preferably certified used) manufactured by Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes and/or Volvo. Maybe you always bought new and now are trying out the used car market because you are tired of huge depreciation, want to take advantage of great used deals and expect no one will know the difference since your used vehicle is in great shape.
    Or, maybe you've been buying used for years, enjoying how great the deals can be.
    If you care to be quoted by a major newspaper regarding your experience, please post here and/or respond to [email protected] with your story and contact info. Thanks!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 27,604
    bought a certified '98 S70 T5 Volvo at the end of August. Why? Needed something comfortable for my long commute. Wanted something that is very fast. And, yes, definitely wanted to avoid that initial depretiation hit that I took on the 2 new cars that I have bought in my life. Certified was definitely a strong selling point. The original full warranty is 36K miles on that car (and many other cars). The certified program for Volvo gives me till 74K miles. I found one with only 30K. So, do the math and I actually received a better warranty than if I bought new.

    '19 Ioniq plug-in, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 50-car history and counting!

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hope you're enjoying your new-to-you car. You may very well be contacted by the interested journalist - please feel free to contact me offline at [email protected] for details.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... After watching a Kazillion vehicles run through the auctions in NY, NJ, PA, OH, MI, NC., FL and Georgia in the last 3 months --- I would have to think that every dealer is looking for a "huge" used Car market in Jan and February ...

    As a rule, most Dealer's are "bailing" out of their inventories come Thanksgiving through Xmas --- this year, seems to be a lot different.

    Most vehicles are not only being bought up, at the auctions .. the dealers don't seem to be shy with the prices. A vehicle that might normally go for $10,000 at the block, has buyers reaching out of the "book" to purchase them.

    This will be very interesting come January .. I have never seen that before ..!

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    January will certainly bring some very interesting developments in the car business and beyond - let's hope they're all for the better.

    Meanwhile, still in December, we've got a new media request. This time, a major magazine is looking for people who've been surprised by the impact of their credit score. If you have a story to share, please post here or send it along to [email protected] asap.

    Happy Holidays to all!
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... Now this should prove to be very interesting .. I would love to hear some post's on that subject..

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Anyone out there care to share?
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi all,
    Have you ever been pulled over for driving while chatting? If you are willing to talk with the media about your experience, please provide your e-mail address and/or daytime phone number to me at [email protected] A major daily newspaper is hoping to hear from you.
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    If this describes you, please feel free to contact the journalist directly, and/or drop me a note with your contact information. Oh, if you go to him directly, please make sure to tell him sent you his way. Thanks much!

    professionals who've been to racing or driving schools, in the U.S. and
    around the world. Physicians are preferable, but any input would be
    appreciated. I'm also looking for any information regarding vacation
    packages to race tracks, driving schools, etc. Input from anyone who has
    picked up a new high-performance car in Europe and got some track time
    would also be helpful. Need North American and European leads by February
    15. >>> Sheldon Fingerman Phone: +1-970-925-4639 Fax:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Hey just to let you know the interview I gave to the WSJ about a month ago was published yesterday Page R8. It was funny cause I work on Wall Street and one of the old traders was sooooo mad. He said "I've been working on The Street for 25 years and I've never been quoted in the Journal!"


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Cool, did you clip it out? Save it.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I have a copy. I'll try to scan it for yah.

  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Does a Range of New Gizmos Stop
    The Question 'Are We There Yet?'

    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
    January 4, 2002

    Carlos Mora commutes three hours a day, then spends even more time on road trips with his teenagers. So when he wants to relax, where does he go? Right back to his SUV, which has a navigation system, Sony PlayStation and a built-in PC -- plus a DVD player with surround sound.

    "We go out to the truck to watch movies now," says the computer specialist from Holden, Mass. On the road with his kids, he says, a movie "makes the trip go by very quick."

    So much for staring out the windows. After years in the slow lane, the world of auto entertainment is shifting into high gear. Among the new products: gizmos that promise to help you skirt traffic jams or even "read" you the morning paper. Within just the last two months, drivers nationwide got two new ways to hear music -- in-dash MP3 players and satellite systems that offer 100 stations nationwide. And DVD players, until recently a high-cost novelty, are one of the fastest-growing car toys, both for new-car buyers and for folks installing them. In all, sales of high-tech auto gear were up nearly 70% at big electronics stores in 2001, says market researcher NPD Intelect, making it the hottest sector of the $2 billion car-stereo market.

    U.S. Car, Truck Sales Eased in December; Year Was 2nd-Best Ever for the Industry

    Chrysler's New Bosses Provide Refresher in Merging High Style With Lower Costs

    The new wave of car technology is receiving an especially warm welcome this winter. Not only are Americans spending more time on their commutes by the year, but cheaper gas and the recent drop in air travel have more people turning to long-haul road trips. Plus, as the interest in everything from cellphones to navigation systems shows, drivers are already looking for ways to make their car time more constructive -- or shorter. The result: Alpine Electronics, a big DVD and audio maker, says it ran short of some systems over the holidays. "We are frankly quite surprised," says its vice president, Steve Witt.

    So how does the stuff work? To sort the nifty from the needless, we hauled a truckload of new gear along on our own family road trips. Our goal: To see what would keep the kids entertained, front-seat passengers sane and the driver on the right road. We discovered that not all of these gizmos are ready for prime time. One navigation system told us to take a sharp right as we sailed down the interstate, while some newfangled stereos seemed to make it more complicated to hear what we wanted. But we also found radios that let us hear Hollywood movie tunes 24 hours a day and learned that DVD players, naturally, were great for pacifying kids. With prices starting at $300, we thought it would be worthwhile to make room on the dash for a number of them.

    Of course, this new technology has its critics. Stereos and cellphones are already credited with isolating Americans in their cars. More serious are the safety implications: As many as a quarter of all crashes involve driver distraction, from talking on the phone to eating breakfast, according to government data. But industry officials and owners point out that drivers have always dealt with diversions -- and, in fact, because things like DVD players keep kids quiet, these gadgets may actually reduce one source of distraction.

    Here, our own experiences with the latest in car technology:

    DVD Players
    $500 to $2,500

    Faster than you can say "Free 'Shrek' Video," DVD players have gone mass-market, with Ford and Honda offering them pre-installed and General Motors expecting to sell as many as 70,000 DVD-equipped vehicles in 2002, triple the amount last year. And you don't have to buy a new car to get one: Some retail models slip over the back seat while others have screens that drop down from the roof.

    The Pros: Not only does it keep kids happy, but with wireless headphones, parents don't have to listen. "We have conversations now," says Mary Lou Erber, a mother of three whose Chevrolet minivan has a built-in model. When we pulled into the driveway after our own less-than-"Fantasia"-length test drive , our six-year-old passenger lamented: "But it's not over yet." When's the last time you heard that from the back seat?

    The Cons: Choose your screen carefully: The one on the Audiovox we tested was too tiny and needed to be viewed straight-on. Preinstalled screens, on the other hand, can give a sharp picture -- but one model that folded down from the ceiling obstructed our rear-window view. Then there's the carsickness issue. As we watched a DVD on the Honda Odyssey's preinstalled player, an adult in our crew got woozy. (Makers, however, say there's no evidence players cause this.) One final thing: Don't your kids watch enough TV as it is?

    The Bottom Line: Sure, we'd love to discuss philosophy all the way to the Grand Canyon. But there's still the drive home.

    Satellite Radio
    $300 to $1,200, plus monthly fees

    Not enough Tejano music in your life? Miles above the Earth, satellites now transmit some 100 stations to every corner of the U.S. -- Sinatra, Hindi, comedy and, yes, northern Mexican cowboy music. To hear them, you need a special receiver and antenna, plus a subscription costing about $10 a month. The first satellite radio company, XM, rolled out its nationwide coverage in November, while competitor Sirius Satellite Radio is set to launch its own channels in February.

    The Pros: We liked Sony and Pioneer models that paired with our existing stereos and gave us access to everything from be-bop to unsigned bands. Once you try satellite radio, "it's hard to go back to local FM," says Ken Patterson, a 46-year-old wireless consultant from rural Texas who listens to news, disco and a Christian rock channel called The Torch. The display shows the song titles and artist names, a big plus. We now know, for example, that the "Unsigned" channel band doing the cool swing version of "Helter Skelter" is the Necro-Tonz. Hip, or what?

    The Cons: The DJs were as annoying as their FM counterparts, the stations were so specific we felt like we were hearing the same songs over and over, and though we were paying for a subscription we still had to listen to commercials on some channels. And while XM's 100 channels may sound like a lot, the selection sometimes isn't as good as it seems: Classical fans can choose from four channels, but one is all Pops, another Bach-to-Beatles. Finally, call us news junkies, but we found XM's offerings lacking: Thanks to the time difference, when we were looking for our morning news update on BBC World Service, we got long features on prehistoric footwear and medieval zoos.

    The Bottom Line: Narrowly defined stations seem to lack personality. But if you're driving in eastern Montana, who cares?

    Navigation Systems
    $1,000 to $3,000

    For most of their short history, sa
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Navigation Systems
    $1,000 to $3,000

    For most of their short history, satellite navigation systems -- basically, computerized maps that show you where you are and how to get where you're going -- have been considered frustrating and expensive toys. But cheaper and easier models are expected to show up everywhere in 2002 -- even in Toyota Camrys. New systems understand spoken commands, while some promise something even more -- to steer you around traffic jams.

    The Pros: The models we tested -- ones that come in Infiniti and Lexus cars, plus a $3,000 Pioneer model you can have installed -- are the best we've seen. Their databases now cover the entire U.S., and their computers can spit out a realistic alternate route when you miss a turn (older systems tended to order U-turns). Voice controls were cool: When we said "restaurant," our screen filled with red, white and blue flags symbolizing "American" cuisine, with other flags for French and Chinese.

    The Cons: Even now, they're clunky, requiring drivers to pull over to program an address. All the systems lost us eventually; one told us we were beneath the Detroit River. Voice recognition needs some work, too: We asked our Lexus for grocery stores and it gave us French restaurants. And that traffic-jam feature? We liked how the Pioneer system receives special traffic data, but it still ran us into a tie-up.

    The Bottom Line: Still pretty expensive. For now, we'll take a $3 map and restaurant tip from the guy at the gas station.

    Talking Internet
    $500 to $700 for hardware, plus annual fees and phone charges.

    Forget books on tape. Now it's possible to have the day's news, stock quotes and even your own e-mail read to you as you drive. The service is available only for subscribers of OnStar, a General Motors' on-board phone system, but a competitor, MobileAria, is due out soon.

    The Pros: Much safer than trying to read your BlackBerry at 75 miles per hour. OnStar's Virtual Advisor can recite local traffic reports, a real bonus in congested cities. It even reads news from papers and television. The system has a lifelike, virtual female voice to guide you from one information category to another.

    The Cons: You say "news," it may give you "sports." And the system won't listen while it's talking, so the only way to get out of a dull report is to hang up and start over. (Who knew a 600-word news story could be so long?) We found the traffic reports weren't always accurate, with news of one tie-up remaining in the system for days. Finally, OnStar charges $200 a year, plus at least 20 cents a minute for the connection -- so that news update probably cost you a buck.

    The Bottom Line: It has promise, but for now it feels like an expensive gimmick.

    MP3 Players
    $500 to $800

    Eight-tracks, cassettes, CDs ... hard drives? The newest thing in dashboards is a removable drive that can hold hundreds of hours of tunes; just fill it up with music files from your PC and plug it into a port in your car. The first players on the market -- the PhatNoise car-audio system and Neo's car jukebox, both released last fall -- are meant to be mounted in the trunk and wired to your existing stereo.

    The Pros: You can drive for days and not hear the same song twice. "Now I have a 70-CD changer," says Jeff Cohen, a 39-year-old computer specialist who uses PhatNoise. Though he anticipated a challenge -- "I was expecting the geek experience" -- Mr. Cohen found it pretty easy to set up. PhatNoise comes with software that automatically updates your drive to match the music library on your PC.

    The Cons: The PhatNoise isn't compatible with all car stereos, while the Neo, which works with a broader range of models, was less user-friendly. Neither system makes it easy to find that one song you absolutely have to hear without scrolling through dozens of choices -- you have to remember that "Stairway to Heaven" is on disk 79, track 236. While PhatNoise says the system isn't designed for behind-the-wheel searches, separate in-dash units -- just starting to become available -- will make finding songs a bit easier.

    The Bottom Line: If you have $800 and a ton of digital music files on your PC, this is for you. If you want no-fuss digital music, try satellite radio.
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi all,
    A major newspaper is looking to interview folks who learned how to drive stick in their adulthood, and either fell in love or hated it. Also welcome is any input on why people love to drive stick, and any unusual anecdotes about how you learned, etc.
    Hope to hear from you before Feb 22 via Town Hall or at [email protected] with your thoughts and contact information.
    Thanks as always,
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    I learned when I was in my 20's. I'll be happy to help.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    I learned to drive on two manual transmission cars when I was 16. Every car I've owned has been a manual, and I refuse to consider buying an automatic. I'd be happy to contribute.
  • When I learned to drive, we had a 1963 Chrysler Newport and and 1961 VW beetle. Initially, due in large measure to insurance costs (this was 1967), I was insured first on the VW and secondarily on the Chrysler. Also, during my early days of driving, I could purchase a gallon of gas for 24.9 cents. I could literally collect pop bottles and redeem them for cash and have enough gas money for a weekend -- if I collected 25 to 50 bottles -- when I drove the VW. Plus, the VW had a fabric full roof sunroof and a decent AM radio.

    Everything in my life pushed me to drive the VW, as you can see. The VW of course had a stick shift, was quirky enough to be cool and was really really cheap to operate. What choice did I have? The VW transmission was fully synchronized as I remember, so I did not have any problem grinding the gears (except reverse) and once I figured out how to take off from a dead stop without killing the engine or melting the clutch, I was fine. I always felt I could make the most of that little 36 or 40hp engine with that manual transmission. Of course the VW wasn't as much fun on dates since your date had to sit in the bucket seat instead of right next to you like she did when you driving the Chrysler.

    But, money was tight and the VW and shifting was fun.

    Next car with a stick was a 1963 Plymouth Valiant ("3 on the tree" instead of the "four on the floor" of the VW). This thing had a real back seat a "slant six" engine and first gear was not synchronized -- in fact the transmission in this car is, I am convinced, responsible for the creation of the phrase "grind me a pound!" As much as I liked the power of the engine, this car was NOT cool (when compared with the VW).

    As time passed and I could actually be totally ($) responsible for buying my own cars, I once again turned to stick shifts, first with a 1978 Audi 5000. Of the over two dozen cars my wife and I have owned since 1978, all but 5 of them have been stick shifts. My wife, to this day, WILL NOT DRIVE an automatic (unless it is the loaner she gets while her car -- an Audi TT coupe with a 6spd manual -- is being serviced).

    Both of us believe that when compared with even the best, slickest automatic transmissions on the market today, manual transmissions generate more. More: control, performance, options for current driving conditions and fun are the compelling reasons to choose manual transmissions.

    I am very worried that we are seeing an accelleration of the "death" of the manual transmission in the US. Indeed, I am almost depressed when I take the TT to the car wash and the young man or woman who is supposed to drive the car to the wash entrance says, "I don't know how to drive a stick, you'd better drive it on up to the entrance." I think these people should be fired or sent to manual transmission training. After all, if the young drivers of today have no clue about how to drive a manual, there will literally be so little demand in the future for the magnificent manual transmission that it will be discontinued altogether due to lack of interest.

    More's the pity.
  • jjpeterjjpeter Posts: 230
    Started on a 65 Chevy Corvair, then a 69 VW beetle, 86 VW golf, 93 Infiniti G20, and now drive a 99 Ford Ranger P/U stick. Its the best way to stay involved in the process of driving a vehicle.

  • nwngnwng Posts: 664
    I learned how to drive a stick when I was 19. Me and 3 other college friends rented a celica with stick shift (I think it was from avis). This was 1987 though, so I am not sure if you can get one now. Anyway, each of us took turns and by the end of the day, thanks to the toyota's smooth clutch and stick, we were all able to drive quite a distance without stalling. That was the best $40 my friends and I ever spent. Besides learning how to drive a stick that day, I also learned that I will never, never, ever teach someone how to drive a stick in my own car because it has been 15 years since I smelled a fried clutch.

    As far as why I like to drive a stick, here are the following reasons:

    Keeps me from falling asleep while driving

    It always feels nice to bang to 2nd and throw into a turn without braking

    I can pass all the suv's I want on the highway or going up even a slight ascent

    My honda's engine was born to rev

    You cannot believe the kind of deal you can get when you buy a manual transmission car

    Last: If I do not drive a stick, what is my right hand suppose to do? (Oh, no..........:)
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Keep those stories coming! The journalist will contact you directly if he has additional questions.
  • I actually taught myself watching my dad. He had a brand new 1965 VW Beetle $1600. He learned while driving home from the dealer,stalled many times.Once he got the touch he was just fine.I was 12 years old when I drove the bug. He would let me drive when we were in upstate New York in the Catskills.My first car in 1971 was a Triumph Spitfire a 65.The car was an absolute piece of junk but it was a stick,and the gauges were beautiful.Had a 1966 VW Squareback with a stick and no reverse.The best one I had was in 1978 bought a 68 Bug in mint condition not a spot of rust anywhere. Also had a77 Bug with stick of course.It was until 1990 that I got a new 5 speed Mazda Protege LX that car could move.That was my last stick had it till 2000. Can't wait to get another stick.
  • 427435427435 Posts: 86
    My first "automotive" driving started in a 1949 two ton farm truck with a "granny" 4-speed and a 2-speed rear axle when I was 13. Since then a lot of cars have come and gone, many with automatics because that was the only transmission avaiable. On the other hand, my first new car was a 1967 Corvette with a 427 cubic inch and 435 horsepower engine that could only be had with a 4-speed manual transmission. Still have that car and it's still fun to drive.

    Manual transmissions do provide for a little more control of acceleration and deceleration (in the hands of a good driver). I currently commute 65 miles one way with a front-wheel drive car and a 5-speed manual. In the winter, here in Minnesota, one often is on roads that may have "black ice" on them or they may just be wet. Hard to tell the difference between the 2 conditions at night without testing the brakes (which is a bad idea if there's traffic around). With the 5-speed and FWD, I just put it in 4th and step on it. If the wheels spin, I quickly let off and slow way down. If the wheels don't spin, I'll slow down a little and put it in 3rd and step on it again. If the wheels don't spin, I go back to cruise-control at 70 mph. If the wheels do spin in 3rd, but not 4th, I slow down some but not as much as when they spin in 4th.

    With an automatic, it's hard to do this as the torque converter unlocks and you get a sudden surge of power and, if the front wheels spin, it takes a while for things to calm down because the engine has speeded up and the wheels are really spinning fast.

    In other, simplier terms, the manual transmission gives a good driver a better idea of traction as well as better control of acceleration and deceleration.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,941
    I drove automatics until I moved to Houston from Minnesota in April '82. I sold my car, a '75 Vega Kamback, before I moved to Texas because 1) the car had no A/C and 2) I'm not sure it would have survived the trip. So I needed new wheels. I had previously decided I wanted the new-for-'82 Celica GT hatchback. I was going to get another slushbox, but a friend of mine convinced me that the only way to go on the Celica was the 5-speed. "Besides," she said, "it's so flat in Houston it will be easy to learn how to drive a stick." So one night I went down to a Toyota dealer in West Houston and asked for a test drive. Fortunately, the salesman did not ask me if I knew how to drive a stick. Of course, I did know how to drive a stick; I learned how on the 3-speed column shifter in the simulator in driver's ed when I was 15, which was, well, many years earlier. This was a bit different. After stallling the car three times while trying to back it out of its parking space, the salesman came over with a worried expression and asked me if I needed help. "No, no," I said quickly. "Just getting the hang of it." I finally got it backed out, got to the exit, stalled once more, then pulled out onto the Katy freeway access road. Once underway, I did much better, only killing it once or twice at stoplights. I managed to get back to the dealership without too much trouble. After a couple of hours of negotiating (during which they tried to move me down to a Corolla, "closer to my price range"), I closed the deal on the Celica. The next day, my friend drove me back to the dealer to pick my new car up. I didn't know many people in Houston then, so every weekend I'd go driving around town, reveling in my hot new car (well, compared to the Vega it was pretty hot) and getting smoother with the stick day by day.

    Since my Celica, I've owned 10 other cars. Two were minivans, not available with a stick. One was a used '92 Galant, which had an automatic; I bought it at what I thought was a great price, then discovered why it was priced so low. I dumped it after seven months, and went back to sticks.

    Because of where I live--the Twin Cities--and my driving patterns, which usually allow me to miss the worst rush-hour traffic, I wouldn't want anything other than a stick. I prefer small, tossable cars with small, economical engines, and I think a stick is the only way to go. But if I had to regularly fight heavy rush-hour traffic, then I might think differently. And the 4- and 5-speed automatics of today are much improved over the autoshifters available when I was younger. Still, I think a stick shift makes driving more fun and maybe helps me feel a little bit younger.
  • tpkentpken Posts: 1,108
    It was 1986. I was 31 and getting married in a few months to a girl that drove a tiny 78 Subaru 4 speed. My 1982 Coupe DeVille was chewing up and spitting out headgaskets every 12 K miles and I was seeing red. We needed to compromise on a new car and agreed to buy something smaller.

    During 14 years of driving big GM cars, I'd never pressed a clutch, and couldn't have told you where 1st, 5th or reverse were located on a manual trannny. But I was so angry at GM that I marched into a Toyota dealer and ordered a new 86 Camry LE and decided to save $700 and start shifting.

    The day finally arrived and my new blue baby was ready to be picked up. I made out the paperwork and pocketed the keys. As I closed the door behind me I thought to myself 'how difficult can this possibly be?' and asked the salesman "How do I shift it?"

    He looked at me in total incredulity and responded "You've never shifted a manual before?" "Nope" I told him and watched his face turn pale. He must have had visions of me wiping out the whole front row of new Toyotas on my way out of the lot!

    Well you should have seen them all looking out the showroom windows as I lurched and jerked my way onto the street and disappeared from their side splitting laughter.

    Amazingly, I did get home ok and within a few days was shifting as smooth as silk (well ok - maybe burlap!)

    I drove that car for 7 years and 140K miles before trading back into a Grand Marquis. I doubt I'll ever go back to a manual for myself but when it's time for the kids to learn in a few years - I'll probably pick up another manual for them to learn to drive. Shifting is good for the soul!

    Best wishes to all

  • denrightdenright Posts: 285
    I learned how to drive stick the summer after Junior year of college. I was employed by my university's maintenance department, and was assigned a work truck for the purposes of carting tools and equipment from work site to work site. However, the truck had a manual transmission, whereas I had never driven stick before.

    So, I got a crash course in driving stick from my boss, who was a less than ideally patient man. Picture a shaggy haired college kid sitting in a white pickup truck, laden with tools, with a bearded middle age man screaming at him, "no, you gotta give it more gas when you let up on the clutch! Give it more gas, you idiot!"

    I eventually got the hang of it, obviously, after a few fits and starts (literally). On one occassion I was stuck on a hill, facing upwards, unable to get underway without stalling for about 10 mintues with traffic piling up behind me. Humiliating, to say the least.

    After college I moved to DC for law school. Early in my second year I met a girl who would later become my wife. She drove a '94 Cavalier with a manual five speed, whereas I didn't have a car at all. While we dated, her car was the vital lifeline between her home in Bethesda and mine in Arlington. I became reacquainted with the art of driving stick in my wife's Cavalier, and fell in love with the control that it offered on the road. Driving in city traffic, the manual transmission offered better acceleration off the line than one would expect from a small four cylinder. Moreover, I found that driving a manual made me much more attuned to the road, to the cars around me, and to the entire driving experience. Driving stick literally made me a better driver.

    I was hooked.

    I bought a Pontiac Sunfire GT in 1997 -- manual of course. Though it was an economy car with a very reasonable price tag, I loved it. Again, the manual transmission made the car a pleasure to drive, zippy and agile, whereas a similar car with an automatic felt sluggish and boring.

    Well, come 2001, I had been a practicing attorney for five years and I became interested in looking at new cars. My criteria were pretty basic, I thought: I wanted a 4 door sporty sedan, with a 6 cylinder, at least 200 HP, good handling and a manual transmission. Guess what? There aren't very many cars that meet this description.

    The limiting factor, I found, was the manual transmission. To my knowledge, there are no American cars available with 6 cylinders, 4 doors, 200 HP and a manual transmission other than the Lincoln LS. I actually emailed Pontiac at one point to urge them to offer the Grand Am and/or the Grand Prix with a manual transmission. They, obviously, declined.

    So, despite my preference for an American-made car, I was forced to look at imports. I considered the Audi A4, the BMW 3-Series, the Nissan Maxima, and the Volkswagen Jetta and Passat. I settled on the BMW and bought a 2001 330xi.

    I love this car. It is an utter pleasure to drive ... and I owe it all to a beat up pickup truck and a '94 Cavalier that taught me to love the manual transmission and not settle for the lesser experience of driving an automatic.
  • achanceachance Posts: 106
    I learned to drive on a '54 Farmall Cub tractor - now THAT's shifting. Drove exclusively manuals til the late '80s. Divorced first wife, started dating again. Disadvantage of having to shift became immediately obvious! Modern automatics are so smooth and reliable that I can't see them for daily drivers anymore. When I can justify a car that's just a toy, it'll probably have a manual, though.
  • You wouldn't believe it if I said "I learnt driving stick shift in my dreams". I used to watch my brother drive a stick shift and used to re-play the sequences before falling into deep slumber every night !! I remember, I used to be lying on my bed, and would prop-up both legs up in the air (assuming one is 'over' the clutch and the other on the accelerator), and rehearse how to start the car and pull it up on first gear.

    "Push left foot all the way down, engage first gear, use the right foot to apply equal/smooth acceleration while tuning my ears to the revs so as not to race the engine too loud. And then in a perfect synchronization lift the left foot slowly off the clutch and push my right foot in the same amount downwards on the accelerator. "

    And viola ! I used to 'feel' the car start moving without a hitch. I used to do this all long until my foot/legs would feel tired and just drop off to deep slumber with a big satisfied smile on my face, knowing the car had started smoothly. My brother though wouldn't let me try my skills on his car, not believing, of course, that one can learn by constant observation and simulation. I had to join a driving school to prove to my brother that I could drive a stick shift without frying the gears ! :-)

    ps: Only after 5 years of driving experience does he allow me, sometimes, to drive his car. I am sure not coz I don't know how to use a stick shift but maybe coz how fast I drive ? ;-)

  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    My dad taught me to drive in '84, insisting that I learn first on a stick. We had a '73 Dodge pickup with a 3-speed on the column. Considering the era, a column shift was an oddity but was a kick. I remember once going on a date...I looked forward to showing off how I could drive a column shift. Unfortunately, the column shift had a worn out linkage...I picked up the girl, then couldn't get the truck out of first! What a dork. I ended driving home (5 miles) in first gear, then having the girl pick me up for the rest of the date.

    A stick makes you a better driver, as you utilize the tranny to accelerate and decelerate instead of relying on the brake. It also makes you scan ahead further to anticipate traffic flow, so you minimize shifting.

    I believe manual tranny's are so much better for drivers that I have taught 3 adults to drive them: my mother at age 52, my wife at age 24 and my sister at age 18.

    My wife was a non-believer until I taught her. I was so proud of her. We were dating at the time, and she lived 2 hours from me and needed a car. SHr drove to my house for the weekend, we bought a festiva with a 5 speed, and she drove it home herself that Sunday evening. She now agrees that learning to drive a stick made her a better driver.

    Of course, it took a bit longer to get my mom to learn. However, the hardest part was getting past the stigma. Too many people just are afraid to learn for some reason. Once my mom got past the mental block, she did just great.

    I have 2 stick shift vehicles and one automatic. I drive the automatic 90% of the time. However, I must be born for a stick, because I still instinctively reach for the shifter when driving the automatic. I'm sure many of you know what I mean. Passengers sometimes look at you funny as your hand jumps out towards the radio, only to quickly pull back in embarrassment.
  • danny25danny25 Posts: 119
    My first experience with driving a stick was at 15 in my dad's '83 Sentra station wagon. My parents had just bought a new car and were going to trade in the Sentra, but before they got rid of it I convinced them to let me learn how to drive a stick with that car. They didn't see any harm in that since they were about to get rid of it.

    My mom took me to a nearby parking lot for my first attempt. Of course it took a while to get the car going without stalling, but I finally got the hang of it. The only problem was the parking lot wasn't as big as I would have liked it to be. The highest gear I could get into was 2nd because of all the medians in the way. But I was determined to have a little fun and at least get into 3rd, so I gunned it and shifted as fast as I could before I got to the rapidly approaching median. Unfortunately, with me not being very experienced in speed shifting yet, I missed 3rd and threw it in 5th and killed the car. Not to big of a deal, except somehow I managed to get the transmission stuck in 5th. So my mom had the pleasure of driving the car home with only 5th gear. I don't know how she did it, the tiny 4 banger had absolutely no torque. Thankfully when we made it home our neighbor, a mechanic, very kindly got it unstuck before we had to trade it in.
  • I love driving stick. Both our cars (2000 Jetta and 1994 Civic) are 5 speeds. I learned to drive one in High School, I never really had a big problem learning it but I catch onto things like this quickly. I think one of the biggest keys to learning stick is to understand how a manual works, the clutch/flywheel, etc which is something many people don't do. If I understand what is going on mechanically, I can usually figure out how to operate something. Other than that, you just have to practice, no other way about it. The only time I don't like the manual is in super heavy traffic (I don't think anyone does) and at times I have cussed it pretty bad when my leg starts to cramp up b/c I haven't gotten out of 1st in 30 min. A stick just gives me so much more control over the car and makes me feel like a race car driver.
  • I learned to drive a stick shift when I was a senior in high school quite a few years ago ;-). I'd been driving for a couple of years and asked my dad if he'd teach me. My dad sold Chevys and he had just 'acquired' a used '62 Chevy Impala with a 3-speed on the column that he was going to resell.

    It was parked across the street and told me I could put it in the driveway. I have to admit it took a loooong time to get it across the street. I was awfully glad I learned to drive a stick...I got to drive one of the first Z-28 Camaros. Several years later, husband and I bought an El Camino with a 4-speed. With a divorce, I went back to an automatic.

    In 1990 I needed a car that was good on gas and bought a 4-cyl Camry. The 4-cyl was anemic with an automatic but was decent with a stick. I loved that Camry and it was good to me. I recently sold it after I bought a Toyota Highlander. I love the Highlander but really miss the manual transmission. I particularly liked the stick in bad weather (ice and snow) as you could start in second gear and not spin the wheels.

    ...not pushing the pedals now but miss it!
  • It just came to me, the first time I drove a stick was when a good friend of mine and I were out when we were in 11th grade. I did not drink but he did and had WAY too much that night. He had a late 80's VW Fox with a 5 speed. He said "You have to drive" and I said "But I don't know how to drive a 5 speed". Well, I did it for our own safety! What was really funny is that once I got it started (the hardest part) I didn't want to have to repeat this so I never stopped all the way home...through traffic lights, a toll plaza, I must have commited so many moving violations that night but we got home safe!
  • I've been driving for 16 years and just learned to drive a manual at 32. Reason? I've pre-ordered a 6-speed Nissan 350Z. The experience was one of the easiest tasks I've ever set out to accomplish.

    I consider myself an excellent driver. Although I'd only driven automatics, my comprehension of vehicle dynamics and handling is well above average as I am an avid, casual kart racer. I undertand braking points, the racing line and how to hit the apex in a increasing radius turn. When I started racing karts last year, I was introduced to the concept of using both feet, something I had not done in 16 years of driving. In a kart, you apply throttle with your right foot and braking with the left. Immediately upon entering the kart this set-up just "felt" right. One obstacle had been overcome. "Would I get confused by the clutch?"

    When I decided to apply myself and take the time to learn stick, I really wanted it, like it was a goal of monumental achievement. The "driving" part didn't get in the way and I could concentrate solely on the art of shifting. A buddy and I rented a beater Nissan Sentra which did not even have a tachometer, so I had to concentrate and listen to the RPMs rather than watch them. After 45 minutes of tooling around in an empty parking lot learning the basics and the clutch take-up point, we took it out into rather busy Saturday traffic and I didn't stall once, nor did I buck wildly trying to over rev while popping the clutch. The following day I went out solo to run errands. I was by myself at this point and had no one to drive me home should I chicken out or decide it was too unnerving. I simply erased those thoughts from my mind and proceeded with the task at hand. Get from one side of town to the other and don't let on to your fellow commuters that you've got less than two hours behind the wheel of a 5-speed. That means NO stalling and NO bucking like a bronco.

    I arrived back home an hour later without a single episode of embarrasment. All of my previous anxiety about looking like a tool never came to fruition. I actually drove better and smoother when I was playing around at speed in deserted, new construction neighborhoods where only the streets were in place. Countless hours of watching Speedvision had finally paid off! There I was, barreling into the corners, engaging the clutch, blipping the throttle to match engine speeds, downshifing into second and flying out of the apex. I had reached my goal!

    Today, after less than five hours driving stick, I just can't bring myself to even consider another automatic transmission purchase. I am completely in love with the depth of involvement that a manual transmission affords and after 16 years of only driving autos, I'm turning my back on the slushbox.
  • As you might know, it's much cheaper to rent a stick in Europe, so my boyfriend and I rented one during our trip to Italy for my 30th birthday. Well, he showed up a few days late and I was left driving the stick by myself and I could barlewy drive the thing

    As you might know, southern Italians don't believe in traffic law or patience on the road. They are by any reasonable standard aggressive, speedy, and a bit insane when it comes to driving.

    So, after 27 hours of traveling I arriving in Sicily, rent a car and I'm fine driving for a day on the two hour lesson by boyfriend gave me. The problem arose when I ventured off to Taramina a tourist town on a 3000 foot hill overlooking the Mediterranean.

    To approach Taramina, needed to drive up the tall hill, it's actually the a foot hill of Mount Etna. It's August and it seems every European is on vacation in Taramina. I'm driving up the hill with no problems, but the line of cars moving up the hill stops. There are tons of cars behind me. What I particularly notice is after two cars behind me is a medieval stone wall (because the road made hairpin turn so the road goes off in another direction).

    Nobody had every taught me the emergency break trick to start a car on a hill with a stick and I could not start the car. I tried and tried and could not make it work. Finally a nice man from another car drove my car up the hill. (I felt like a dumb tourist with a blinking sign over my head that said "fool".)

    So, then I go look for my hotel. My problem was the streets were one way, narrow, and medieval with lots of tourists running across them. Since I could not drive a stick well, what I did do? I accidently drove back down he hill on the one way street.

    As approach the hill again, I had great trepidation and I start taking deep breaths. There are tons of cars, and we are all traveling up the hill in a line. A bus stops, so all the cars behind it stop. I'm stuck in a tunnel this time. I try the emergency brake trick, but I could not get first gear to catch and the brakes over heat. My car is smoking up the tunnel. Finally the nice policeman comes to my car and drives me to the hotel. I felt so ridiculous.(All this to save a few hundred dollars.)

    The rest of the trip was fine, my stick driving skills improved and my boyfriend showed up.

    As few years later, after I moved to San Francisco -- a unfriendly place for a standard transmission -- I bought a stick. I forgot everything I had leaned in Italy. It took me about 6 months of driving up and down the hills of the Bay Area to find out I love driving a stick.

    The car with a stick was bought back by the manufacturer under the lemon law last month, so this time, I could really enjoy drving a variety of cars with a standard tranny (the winner is the Acura RSX S-type). I was set to by a stick, but then I sat in traffic one to many times trying to go over the Golden Gate Bridge needing to start on a upward slope in traffic. I thought to myself there is a better way -- slushbox, no fun to drive, but better for traffic.

    My days of driving a stick are far from over (an 911 cabriolet has my name on it one day), but in the Bay Area with horrible traffic and hills, I prefer the automatic for my every day car.
  • My Grandfather, who had Alzheimer's, put me in the driver's seat of his old truck (w/ manual trans) and said, "You can drive us home." At the time it seemed like great fun, but twenty years later I just shake my head when I think about it. I still love driving a manual transmition.
  • when I was 22...I was on a trip to Spain, and we rented a car in Marbella, a small SEAT. I had no choice but to learn, and learn carefully, as the roads around that region are very twisty and narrow, with rocks on one side, and a steep plunge into the Mediterannean on the other. I was scared at first, but after an hour or so, I found it exhilirating! It's been a while since I've driven stick..but I have a Subaru WRX sportswagon, and even my automatic is fun, fun, fun!
  • I am old enough that I learned to drive when only the more expensive cars were available with automatic transmissions so I didn't have much choice. I even taught my girlfriend to shift gears so we could drive around holding hands etc. I learned to drive on a 51 Chevy that my dad bought new without a heater. I had to know a girl really well before I asked her for a date in the winter or we would both freeze. It really makes no difference to me now as I have driven both for years. I do prefer a stick shift on ice and snow.
  • I learned to drive a stick as I was learning to drive. My father considered it to be a necessary skill, right up there with learning how to come back onto the roadway surface without blowing a tire, changing flat tires, and anticipatory driving (such as how to manage your car's momentum to NEVER ever get stuck on a railroad crossing).

    I continue to drive a stick today because quite simply, it offers significantly greater control over the alternative of an automatic.

    My wife, OTOH, is an automatic type of person. She has a stop-n-go city commute, which is really the admitted strength of an automatic. She also has occasional arthritis which can make clutching physically painful. For her, its the right choice.

    But overall, she's not really interested in tolerating the extra work of a manual for the benefit of the extra control. Perhaps eventually: I've already corrupted her to the finer points of handling, steering and suspension, all of which are generally "numbed out" on many vehicles today: her business trips now come interspersed with unkind comments about how lousy her rental car was.

    Finally, a word on 'Tiptronic' automatics, which enables the car to be manually shifted. Her car has one and I've used it, but I pretty much loathe it, because its shift responses have a frustrating ~0.5 second delay, which defeats the purpose of positive control. If this is the future of enthusiast driving, then I'm going to have to keep my "Beast" (an '85 911) running for the rest of my life.

  • gbriankgbriank Posts: 220
    I'd been driving automatic for over ten years. My father drove manual and insisted, "It was an overrated experience and takes too much attention away from driving".

    Well, about six months ago one of my friends insisted I drive a stick. So, I humored him. At first it was interesting, to say the least. After a period of time, I began to really enjoy having "full control" over the vehicle. Two weeks later, I was trading in the old car with auto for a new one with manual. I have now been driving manual for five months and it gets better every month!
  • Your post reminded dad forced me to change a tire in the driveway so I (and he) would know I wouldn't get stranded...

    I also got strong lessons in being aware of what was going on around me (sides and back) to drive defensively, not be afraid to speed up to avoid something.

    I was getting one of those lessons on the freeway when almost on cue, a muffler and tailpipe fell off the car ahead...he was making sure I noticed how it was barely hanging on.

    My dad has been gone for many years now but his lessons were learned and are still being put into practice.

    thanks for the reminder!
  • odd1odd1 Posts: 227
    Automatic leaves you distant from what you are doing. Manual feels more in touch with the vehicle. I think manual forces you to pay more attention to the road.

    I learned to drive manual on my grandparents dairy farm. I was twelve and my grandfather had an upholstery shop make me a six inch cushion so I could see over the steering wheel of that 69 International Harvest pickup. With in a week(and many stallouts later) I was towing two twelve ton trailers from the field to the silo. Before, I was thirteen I could back up with two 12 ton automotive steer trailers connected together.

    I wonder what the youngest age people on farms learn to drive trucks is? I know my uncle started at eight and farm kids generally start on tractors first.

    I saw that lift cushion sitting in my mother's garage recently.
  • a good friend of mine had given me 2 lessons in her 68 Mustang and I had done OK at the age of 23 or so... A year or so later I had to move out of an apartment and had neglected to make a reservation with U-haul for a truck. ( Of course my "stick" driving friend was NOT with me that day!!) Turns out all they had were manuals left. What choice did that leave me?
    I wonder to this day how I didn't hit, kill or maim anyone that afternoon.

    Four years later I bought a Subaru XT which I had someone else drive home from the dealer. A week went buy and it sat in the garage until one day it occurred to me that this was verging on the ridiculous. I got in the car and started driving it in NYC. Honking drivers at lights when I stalled, etc.

    Within a week I was in love with driving a standard! Listening to the engine and timing the gear shifts were magical.

    Unfortunately I married a wonderful man who refused to learn to drive a stick and when my son was born we bought an automatic sedan (lots of upscale toys but BORING!)

    Well guess who just requested stick lessons??? My 7 year old son who fell in love with a screaming yellow Honda S2000! Now if I can only get myself to wait another 9 years....
  • prlady1prlady1 Posts: 573
    Hi there backy, jpelder, droidekaus and galaxygrrl,
    Your manual transmission stories have caught the eye of the reporter but your e-mail addresses are not available in your profile...would you mind contacting me offline so we can set up a phone or e-mail interview?
    Thanks in advance for providing your name, phone number and city/state of residence in an e-mail to [email protected], if you are willing to participate.
    Very best,
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director
    P.S. To everyone else: if your e-mail address is available in your profile, you may be hearing from the reporter directly. Never hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions!
  • brekkebrekke Posts: 304
    I've always wanted to learn to drive stick, and finally did it for real a little over a year ago. I knew I would like it and I do!

    When I was 18 my friend's family kept a 66 VW (stick) at their summerhouse. At the time I was driving my parents' full-size pickup. Their grandmother needed a ride to the store, so I offered to take her in the truck. Of course she couldn't climb up into the cab, so I unceremoniously lifted her up by her bottom! (I don't know what I was thinking) She didn't say anything to me, but she ordered her granddaughter to teach me to drive the VW, and pronto.

    I was terrified, I didn't have much driving experience period, much less with a stick, but I managed to take her in the VW to the store the next week.
    Good times!
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    It is a manditory part of the drivers-ed at highschool to learn to drive a stick. Here in Vermont we get our learners permit at a tender age and have plenty of opertunity to drive a manual tranny before the age of 17.

    Many vermonters learn to drive a stick on a tractor out in the fields too ;-)

    My daughter... age 19 also had to learn a stick in highschool. She has since then had an auto for a short time but traded for a vehicle with a stick. She says it is much more fun to drive.
  • skibry1skibry1 Posts: 174
    1973 I'm 16 and a friend has an ol' beater VW.
    It was kinda' fun learning on the back roads of
    west-central IL going to and fro her house and
    mine. My first two vehicals were Ford vans(a6+a4)
    with three on the tree. I too owned a '78 Audi
    5000.5cyl mated to a clutch made this a sweetie
    ...but rough on the wallet. Next up was a Subaru
    sedan. A step or two down in class but she was
    only 2yrs old and in price range. Several years
    of trouble free motoring. Next one was kind of a
    fluke. I pull into the Lakis dealership in Galesburg IL and made that ever confusing request
    to the salesman,"Do you have a domestic,4dr,mid-sized with a clutch?" The majority would stumble around and try to sell me a slushbox.But this one said,"We just got a trade-in MT5and I don't know
    what the tranny is." For three years FoMoCo mated
    a 5spd to a 4cyl in the Taurus. This baby was only
    2yrs old and fit all my criteria...and w/in the
    budget. I'm a downhill skier and play in the moutains annually.I can't imagine a 4cyl auto at
    10,000ft. My ski buddy would only do the clutch on
    the intrestates. I had to do all town piloting. My
    MT5 delivered me many times to the upper elevations with no problems.Being able to downshift on the steep grades gave us better control. 14yrs and 112,000mls later its time to
    upgrade this ol' rust bucket.IL uses rock salt to
    deal with road condition that can be tricky.43 and I'm ready for my FIRST new car. Much thought
    and research went into this big investment.A huge
    thanx goes to Edmunds who w/out I would not have
    been a well informed consumer. I wanted to make this a domestic model 4dr,mid-sized,w/a clutch.
    In Doubleought(how did you say the new millineium)
    my choices were limited.Dodge stratus and the Olds
    alero were about my best choices.Imagine my grief
    when none of the local dealers would or could find
    me one with a clutch.During my research the 626
    kept popping up with high marks. I contacted a
    dealer in Peoria,Heritage,who had one with 7mls and all my criteria.Frank Melchert was a top notch
    salesman who took a bite in the profit to get this
    sweetie in my garage.Thanx Frank! 23Kmls later we
    are convinced this was the best use of our $16K.
    I agree that having a clutch keeps one more attuned to road and machine. With oil being an un-
    replensible resource us and our 34.5mpg hgwy 626
    will only use a little bit.Thumbs Up USA
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    I learned to drive on a stick shift, the first attempt was in a 69 Datsun wagon in 1975. We had a driveway that sloped into the garage and my dad had the garage doors reinforced, because of the downward slope, he made me back the car up out of the driveway until I didn't run into the garage doors. I must have run into those doors a couple dozen times and the front end of the car quickly looked like someone had driven it into a wall, wonder why? LOL!
    My next lesson was in a 47 Dodge pickup, where I quickly learned that the old transmissions were a little finicky to shift.
    Then when I was old enough to take the driver's license test, I was fortunate to be able to take my test in a fairly new 76 Chevy Blazer with a 4 speed in the winter in Kodiak. By the time I finished, I was a wreck, but I passed and walked home. LOL!
    Personally, I think every younger person should have those kinds of opertunities and should learn on a manual transmission.
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 375
    and that taught me the necessary hand/foot coordination long before I drove legally . Drove a 52 willys with a 3 speed manual around my neighbors property when I was 12. My father took me out in his 81 Mercury Lynx equipped with a 4 speed manual when I had my learner's permit. Passed his "test" with flying colors. Unfortunately, I currently don't own any cars with a stick.
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