“Save The Manuals” was something of a cri de guerre in certain parts of the automotive community over the last decade, at least for the sorts who talked about cars in comments sections with inverse proportion to the quantity and quality they purchased.i
The press release regurgitation channelsii that so effectively served as the pre-Instagram, pre-YouTube online opioid for this clickbait-chum (ahem, C&D) certainly seized upon this low-hanging marketing opportunity. How could they resist? Their demooographic ate holier-than-thou fantasy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the idea that
True Scotsmen TRUE ENTHUSIASTS could pick up the market by its boxers and plunk it down wherever they so pleased simply by dint of verbiage was not at all unlike imagining that hail marys really do absolve you of sin and that only a vote for senility is a vote for democracy.
Manuals, of course, are significantly slower around a track, massively more vulnerable to “money-shifting,”iii force you to take a hand off the wheel at speed, are a pain in the left leg around town, prevent you from drinking/eating/texting while commuting, take up valuable centre console space, and do nothing to make you feel like Lewis Hamilton stomping another of Schumi’s records, all of which is why the “Save The Manuals” brigade has quietly been retiring from active service in the last year or three.iv
Is it any wonder? Automatics, particularly my beloved DCTs, are reliable, versatile, consistent, bloody fast, and perfectly “engaging” thank you very much.v Those arguing to the contrary are nostalgic at best, which is really less of a virtue and more of a virtue signal.vi Can you imagine a campaign to Save The Roll-Up Windows? How about one to Save The In-Dash Cassette Player, or Save The Hand-Cranked Jalopy? I mean, how can you not long for the halcyon days when you pumped your windows down at the drive-thru, physically clunked your music media into the car’s dash, and broke your shoulder trying to cold-start your engine? IT WAS SO ENGAGING!!!11!!!
Let’s make some room in the slow lane.
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- While I own a manual car, it’s easily my least favourite to steer, despite considerable investment in improving it this summer. It barely earns 1`000 km of road use per year. That being said, in 2020 I did discover that’s it’s really quite lovely with the top-off, something I hand’t really enjoyed previously, so maybe there’s hope for it to see a little more use in 2021! ↩
- Id est what our dearly departed CarEnvy.ca was antidotally founded for. ↩
- My poor friend Jay money-shifted his 1970 Ferrari 512S this summer, hitting 12`000 rpm and sending fluids gushing absolutely everywhere. And he’s hardly a rank amateur, he used to race Formula 5000! ↩
- Hell, even J. Clarkson is a convert, and he’s pretty damn nostalgic. If his old bones can see the light, there’s hope for all of us.
Not that long ago, I was very much in the manuals-are-for-men camp. I saw the automatic and the double-clutch alternatives as a sign of weakness. In my mind they were a way of saying that you were a functionary, that you were willing to relinquish control to an algorithm. “Alexander the Great would never have ordered a car with an automatic gearbox,” I would thunder at people who had.
Now, though, I reckon buying a manual is like buying a television that has no remote control. Who says: “I like getting out of my chair to change the channel”?
- While most CVTs are associated with penalty/econo-boxes, J. Baruth makes a strong argument for their use in wares as exotic as the Viper ACR. While perhaps not the most emotional of transmission-engine pairings, such an arrangement couldn’t be worse than, say, a Rimac C_Two, and apparently there’s a line out the door for Mate’s multi-million-dollar machine. ↩
- Goodness knows I’ve tried the “purity” card and I can’t say I’m overly impressed with how it’s aged. How much better is it to get out at the bleeding edge and stay there? Much! Of course, our biologies have other plans, but within the fight against ourselves lies the elixir of eternal youth. ↩