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Can you drive a stick shift ?


STEVE POLLARD
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How many out there can't drive a manual transmission ? Sounds crazy, but I was talking with a co-worker last night, only to find out that he has never own or driven a manual transmission vehicle and he is almost 60 years old ! I started out on my first vehicle , 1974 AMC JAVELIN with a 3 speed. I would practice in my parents long driveway, after learning the proper technique of using the clutch / accelerator ( and many burn outs 😉 ) I graduated to the streets.

 

What vehicles did you learn on ?

 

Steve

 

image.png.ecaa3dd37dd939e73f7eae475da260c8.png

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I have Indian Motorcycles, 

 

A. Clutch, Foot clutch , Left foot

B. Gearshift  -  Right Hand Shift Lever

C. Throttle -     Left hand grip

D. Spark Advance-Retard - Right hand grip

E.  Rear Brake - Right Foot

 

Part of the fun in riding an Indian, pre 1953

 

intimeold

 

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2020 Poll on this Conducted by Cadillac:

 

Sixty-six percent of American drivers know how to drive a manual transmission, and 55 percent have owned or leased one in their lifetime. That’s surprising, given that only 13 percent of the models for sale even offer one.

. . . 

Some results of the Cadillac study were easy to anticipate and explain. Drivers over 55 more likely knew how to drive a stick shift and had owned one, for example. That owes to the fact that manual transmissions were once dominant, with automatics a more costly option.

Other findings were surprising. Sixty-two percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, for example, express interest in learning to drive a manual. Given the increasing rarity of manuals, you might expect to see little interest among this age group. Older drivers are less likely to want to learn how, again due to the fact that most of them may already know how.

For automakers, the real meat of the survey shows in two numbers. One is the youth factor. The other is that interest in learning to drive a stick was higher among those with household income over $75,000 than those with lower incomes.

 

 

 

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Summer of '62 I was 12, my Dad had a 1958 Fiat 4 door sedan that was a 4 speed on the column and he taught me how to finesse a clutch in our driveway; next summer he had a '61 Pontiac Tempest 3 speed on the floor and I drove that but on the roads with him of course. Next summer my parents split up, he still had the Tempest when I turned 16 and I took my driving test with it and passed the first time. I taught both of my children how to drive a stick, and to drive a motorcycle; my 42 year old daughter now owns a 6 speed Mazda "3", and a couple of years ago she drove the Richard Petty cars at Daytona;  my 40 year old son has a HD motorcycle and can still drive stick. I used my '38 Chevy pickup to teach my kids to drive stick; I still have the '38 Chevy pickup; I felt it was important to teach them to drive a stick.

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I taught my wife how to drive manual shift cars. She bought a Fiat 850 Spider 4 speed. I took her out to the country in my VW convertible put her on the drivers seat and said gets us home. The VW was in such bad shape you could put it in first without using the clutch and it wouldn’t stall. Easy car to learn on as she was very confident by the time we got home. She had a ball in the 850. 
dave s 

Edited by SC38dls (see edit history)
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Is this a real question?

 

My First car was a manual back in 1987.  No hydraulic clutch. Spring & linkage. I still own 2 manual transmission cars today. 3 speed dog-leg.  My ‘38 Mopars. 


I regularly drive a ‘28 Dodge with no synchros.  Had fun driving a brass era Russell car with a sleeve valve engine a while ago. Man that was fun. Gear shifter outside the car on the outside rocker panel. Thanks to Peter!  Unforgettable. 
 

Manuals are fun. A bit of a pain when you want to cruise with a coffee in pre-war car. No cup holders. Lol. 

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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1961 Ford in the Knights of Columbus parking lot before the Boy Scouts meeting, in REVERSE. Just think about that, the 9N Ford tractor didn't count, the Ford was the real deal. Put in reverse, turn my body around to look out the rear window, mess up the gas /clutch foot work, stall it, repeat. Finally asked if we could try things going forward, worked a lot better. 

 

New question; This is a life or death situation, guy has a medical emergency and YOU HAVE TO DRIVE HIM TO THE HOSPITAL! You have to use his car, minutes count, he's going to DIE! He just passed out! You have to save him, you have to drive his car! Its an electric..............

 

Bob 

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Yes! Car #1 (in 1958) 1940 Chevrolet 4 Door, #2 1939 Buick Special coupe, #3 1949 Chevrolet business coupe then had first automatic transmission in a 1958 Impala. In the early 60’s I had a Healey Westland and Austin Healy 100-4, 100-6 and 3000’s. Today I still have a 52 GMC pickup, 1942 Buick Sedanet and a 57 Buick 2 Dr Ht with a factory 3 speed (synchromesh) standard transmission. 

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Learned on grandad's 1953 Chevy and Dad's '55 Chevy. Still have '21 Chevy (3 on the floor), '25 Buick ( 3 on the floor,reverse H shift pattern), '40 Packard (3 on the tree),and '99 Jeep TJ (Wrangler) with 5 on the floor. Gotta keep your wits about you with so many variables.

My daughter never got the hang of it, probably because I was trying to teach her on a V8 powered Jeep YJ . My son still couldn't drive stick when he left home but now co-owns a car wrapping/tint shop that gets many high end sports cars (Lambos,vette's,etc.) and so far I haven't heard of him driving out through the back wall !

Edited by J.H.Boland (see edit history)
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I still much prefer a standard transmission and regret that they are so hard to come by in the used trucks I regularly drive...

 

Back in 2917 I was in London with a friend. We were leaving on a 15-day tour around the UK taking pictures for a book we were working on and were renting a car. The clerk kept trying to get us to take one with an automatic because, he said, "Americans don't know how to drive a shift car..." I assured him that I not only knew how to drive one but that I'd been doing it before he was born.

 

That said, my family didn't own a standard car when I started driving - I had to learn on my first antique car, a 1927 Cadillac, when I was 19. As many of you may know, the '27 Cadillac was not an easy car to shift...with helical gears and no syncromesh (adopted a year later). My 1910 REO, with straight cut gears, was much easier to shift.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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I learned on Dad's 66 Biscayne  283 3 on column. But, I couldn't drive it often to get good, as he needed it to go to work. So I borrowed cars from school friends! 55 Ford pick up, 58 Rambler. Later I bought a 66 Biscayne wagon 283 3 speed, and then got into Corvairs. Was given a 65 Bel Air with the 230 and three speed, with NO useable synchros. First was factory non-synchro, second gear synchros were worn out form northern Virginia driving, so I learned quick how to double clutch. It was that or stop the car and start over if one got lost between gears!!!  Upgraded the wagon to a Buick Estate with 455 and three on the column! Still have an 84 F-150, 300 with manual. Taught daughter to drive that and manual Corvairs.

 

In 2015 I was in Belgium and the rental agency asked if I could drive a stick, Yep, but, the European family next to me answered no. And then when the dad offered to drive, they still would not rent the car, since the renter answered no. No automatics were in the airport lot of that agency, I'm not sure how they resolved it.😲

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I began learning to drive full size orchard tractors while sitting on my dad's and my grandpa's laps. I began shifting the gears by the time I was four, but was too small to push the clutch pedal. By the time I was six, I could work the clutch pedal and do all the shifting and driving myself. I was driving the tractors solo, when I was six, and pulling half loaded trailers out of the orchards at the end of the day (after the pickers had left for the day!). I was also driving and operating the fork lift at the age of six.

My first "my" car was my 1929 Reo, straight cut gears, no synchromesh. When I was 20, I had my first model T speedster with a Muncie auxiliary transmission. I got very good at shifting without using the clutch except for stopping.

 

I am now 69, and been driving for more than 63 years! With a little luck? I could become one of the longest time drivers in the world! Mostly, using a clutch.

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Learned on the farm 47 Ford PU With 4 speed.  I can't remember if it had synchromesh or not.  None of the tractors did.  In the summer of 56 I was driving a International 190 Semi hauling concrete pipe to construction sites.  No synchro and 2 speed rear axle.  Life was good for a 16 y/o farm boy.

Edited by Robert G. Smits
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Learned on a Ford F-100 pickup truck with a 390 V8 that was far from stock.  It belonged to a friend of my dad's (who was also a teacher at my high school).  I didn't stall it much, but with all the torque and no weight on the rear wheels, I made a lot of tire smoke when I "goofed."

 

The first manual transmission car I owned was a VW Rabbit with a 47hp? 1.5L diesel and a "3+E" overdrive transaxle.  Stalled that one a lot re-learning, and never made any tire smoke with it. Lucky to go zero to 60mph in the same day.

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I'm 85.  During WWII, when I was 7, a farmer's kid with a running '34 Chevy CHASSIS taught me to drive it, on dirt farm roads with grass in the center hump, while I sat on his lap in the driver's seat, which was the only seat.

 

My first wife came from Alice Springs, Australia, right smack-dab in the middle of the outback.  Her father was fairly well-off, and had an Aussie-built Chevy with automatic on which she had learned to drive - in the middle of nowhere, on the left side of the road.  Our first home was in downtown Newark, NJ, and I had a '61 Beetle with 4-speed manual.  I taught her to drive it, but she was scared to death of it.  One day, she had to go somewhere with the car; I was at work.  At the end of the workday I asked her how it had gone.  She was proud of herself - and I was proud of her!- because she had faked out a bus at an intersection.  She was never scared of American roads or stick shifts after that.

 

My wife for the last 42 years learned on sticks.  My two and her three kids learned on sticks.  Our present fleet:

 

1. Joan's Camry hybrid with continuously variable transmission.

2. My daily driver and tow vehicle, a diesel VW Touareg with 8-speed automatic.

3. A Model T Ford, a single-cylinder Cadillac and a Curved-Dash Oldsmobile, all with two-speed planetaries.

4. A 1912 Buick with unsynchronized three-speed crash gearbox and cone clutch.

5. A Stanley steamer with no transmission at all - just feed it steam and go.

 

It's all good!

 

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ

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Its not really a vehicle, but it did have a motor, clutch, 3 speed transmission and 4 tires......

I was 7 or 8 when I first was allowed to drive it without dad in the seat under me 😅.

image.png.851a3daf5b4cf7fde55cc925f883cd0f.png

 

My current daily driver is a GMC Sonoma with a 5 speed overdrive MANUAL transmission.

Edited by 37_Roadmaster_C (see edit history)
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I learned to drive a manual on my '35 Packard when I was about 35.  When I turned 16 and got a license, I really really wanted to buy a '66 GTO with a 4-speed, but the parents nixed that idea.  (They claimed that a manual was a bad idea because they didn't know how to drive one, and might need to drive it in an emergency.  No fun.)

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My Father taught me on a 1939 Pontiac, while it was being waiting to be used in the film the Godfather and we had nothing to do

 

3 hours ago, alsancle said:

I think a requirement to join the forum should be that you can at least drive a post war stick.   Those are pretty easy. 

 

Which war?

 

2 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

New question; This is a life or death situation, guy has a medical emergency and YOU HAVE TO DRIVE HIM TO THE HOSPITAL! You have to use his car, minutes count, he's going to DIE! He just passed out! You have to save him, you have to drive his car! Its an electric..............

 

Bob 

 

All depends, is the person sitting in the passenger seat, or the drivers seat?  What does this have to do with old cars? or the topic?

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Learned to drive on a 68 ElCamino 3-speed.

 

Last stick vehicle I personally owned was a 72 F100 some 35 yr ago. In meantime there was a 67 Firebird 400 with 3-speed floorshift (I did not know what I had🙄), a 78 Celica GT 5-speed and a 84 TransAM with a 5-speed.

 

I can still work a clutch though! 135 Ferguson sees to that. I guess the Craftsman lawnmower could technically come under clutch too though it's really an idler pulley. 

 

 

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Learned to drive in a 1947 International KB3 when I was 13 on Forest Service logging roads. First car I ever owned was a 1931 Model A coupe which I took my drivers test in.  My mom drove a 1963 Fold Falcon Furtura with a factory 4 on the floor ( I totaled that one in High School). Next stick was 1963 MG B followed by a 1962 TR3 A. In college it was a 1956 Mercedes 219 straight H column shift. Next I got respectable and drove the Volvo240 series vehicles till they did not offer a stick anymore.

 

Now it is the Ford 1998 F-150 5 speed or the 1931 Chrysler.

 

If my 2019 SLC 43 Mercedes-AMG had a pedal on the fool rather than floppy paddles on the steering wheel it would be even more fun to drive with 9 speeds.

 

Guess I need to feel I am an integral part of the machine rather than only a passive passenger pointing it in a direction.

 

 

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I learned on a manual transmission. I got my first automatic transmission car when I was 51 years old.

 

Just prior to COVID my wife and I took a trip that included northern Italy. Near Florence there is/was an opportunity to tour the country side in 1960s vintage Fiat 500s. They apparently had way to many Americans, especially younger ones, who claimed to be able to drive a stick shift but actually couldn’t so they did a little pre-test on a long private driveway to verify my manual transmission abilities before taking us out on the real roads. I found it interesting that they needed to do that for their American customers but not for those from other places in Europe. Driving that vintage Fiat reminded me a little of the 36 HP oval window VW bug I once had. Except I remember the VW as being more powerful and feeling more solid.

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my first real experience with a stick was in my early teens at a neighbors farm with his early 50s chevy farm pickup. it was fun times! since then i’ve been practicing stick shifting for over 55 years and millions of miles mainly in big trucks. still mess up sometimes... (will i ever really get good at it?)

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I've related this story before but... More than thirty five years ago my X-wife and I rented a open Citroen surry type car (like a VW Thing) while on the Greek island of Santorini. Thinking that I could drive anything we jumped in. What I was confronted with was a shifter protruding from the dash, ala Cord, but with no shift pattern indicated. I returned to the rental agent hoping to get a tutorial. He gave me a look as though I had just landed from outer space, and said derisively, you just push it in and pull it out. Embarrassed went back outside and gave it a try. I tried a gear and gingerly let the clutch out and the car moved. After a while it became rather easy. 

 

Santorini sits on and ancient volcanic caldera with a sheer drop off of many hundreds of feet to the water's edge. Pulling off the road with the car pointed towards the sheer drop off, we enjoyed the view. Upon getting back into the car, I realized that I hadn't a clue where reverse was. After several attempts at finding reverse, each time getting closer and closer to the cliff edge, I gave up and we got out and pushed. I'm not sure that I ever found reverse!

http://www.citroenet.org.uk/passenger-cars/michelin/2cv/gearchange/gearchange.html

Edited by Buffalowed Bill (see edit history)
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We're in our thirties and both me and my wife can drive manuals no problems - there is still a reasonable amount of young folk here that can drive manuals because it's a license restriction if you do your test on an auto (which is a pain when a lot of commercial vehicles are manuals)

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Yes, Definitely!

 

   I learned to drive & took my test in my 73 Nova, 3 on the floor from the factory in 1978. One of my long since retired transport trucks I put 850,000 miles 

on was a 5 speed & loved driving it. As a transporter I get to drive anything from a Model T to a new cutting edge exotic, so I better know how!😁

 

God Bless

Bill

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Started out on farm tractors. Had a 1931 model A Ford truck on the farm when I was 12. Moved up to old Mack trucks (And others.) through the years. If you can shift a Quadruplex. You can drive anything. Have had a class A for well over 30 years. I'll keep it as long as I can pass the physical every two years. Dandy Dave!

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Me too, I think the first learning was on a 46 chevy farm truck. Many more to follow through family friends etc. The 28 Pontiac of course is a stick. Although my ram diesel is an automatic, both my sons have the same in stick, so the next generation is OK on my watch....

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Yes, From the mid-1960's onward: '53 Ford panel truck, '46 Jeep, '61 Falcon, '59 GMC, '62 Chevy pickup, '60 Ford 4X4 pickup, '80 Ford 4-speed pickup, 5-speeds: '88 Dodge Omni, '96, '98, '01 Neons.    Drove 5-speeds daily for twenty-two years straight, miss a stick shift now.  My next Packard will be a stick with overdrive!   

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