22 March 2017

Automumble: manual vs automatic transmissions

There are pure manual boxes, transmissions that shift for you and “flappy paddle” boxes – transmissions that you control, which match revs and don’t have a clutch. In this latest episode of Automumble, Hagerty’s UK office, including John Mayhead and Charlie Patterson, along with Ed Legge from Classic & Sports Finance, debate the merits of each box and when they’re appropriate. Additionally, they debate whether modern, electronic cars will ever be classic and what will happen when their circuits and boards fail beyond repair. Will they be recycled? Or…? Let us know what you think…

35 Reader Comments

  • 1
    morris Brandon, Manitoba, CA. March 22, 2017 at 17:08
    Topic: Custom wheels and tires vs factory, on collector cars. Do expensive wheels and tires add value to your 1975 vehicle?
  • 2
    John Zomisky San Diego Ca. March 22, 2017 at 18:39
    I have both Manual and Auto vehicles. I would much rather drive the Manual no matter what the car or truck. I like to drive and the Manual it is much more in tune with the driving experience. I tried to buy a new truck but was very disappointed to find no Manual Trans. So I bought a very nice 1978 C20 with Manual. I really think that the younger generation that has not experienced the Manual has lost out on a great experience.
  • 3
    Mike Kansas March 22, 2017 at 18:59
    I don't think you will see anything built after 2000 with an antique tag. (35 years) Why? Rolling computers/smartphones. Anyone remember Windows 98? Tried to buy a battery for a Nokia brickphone lately? Those are only 5 to 15 years old. Think about it. Planned obsolescence has finally reached perfection.
  • 4
    Al Mosier Sacramento Ca. March 22, 2017 at 19:13
    BAD Sound, And unable to understand what is being said!
  • 5
    Bob Nisbet Santa Barbara, CA March 22, 2017 at 19:25
    I drove manual transmission Porsches since 1965 through mid-2017. Then, I shifted to a white 2012 911S coupe with the PDK automatic transmission. I found that I lost about 20% of the "feel" of the car, compared to the 356s and 993 that I owned previously. But, I absolutely love the PDK, and the loss of the feel of the drive line of the car is well worth the convenience, flexibility and speed of the PDK with its manual and automatic modes, which don't require a foot-actuated clutch. I suspect that the drivers of Model-T Fords felt much the same way about the Model-A cars that they did not have to crank! Progress goes on, and Porsche drivers have to keep up.
  • 6
    Charles Wheeler Nebraska March 22, 2017 at 19:34
    I have a 1988 Corvette with a Doug Nash 4+3 Manual Transmission and would like to know how properly to use it. What is the proper shifting so I can use all 7 gears.
  • 7
    Dick Singer Wilmington, California March 22, 2017 at 19:36
    I learned on 3 in the tree 1940 Dodge business coup. Have always preferred a stick, 3 in the tree or floor on the floor. Today my vehicle of choice is my 87 Honda Aspencade. My cars, 72 XJ6 and 75 X J6C are both automatic in a desire to keep them original.
  • 8
    Albert Maxwell New York March 22, 2017 at 19:43
    I like manual transmissions with active rev matching electric motors that eliminate clutches and syncros.
  • 9
    John Long Island March 22, 2017 at 19:46
    I learned on a '57 Dodge pickup when I was 14 in 1964. I have owned and built many cars, trucks and motorcycles for both the street and racing. I have only owned one with an automatic transmission. Present vehicles Wrangler, Chevy HHR SS, and 1958 Corvette all stick. I drive cross country once a year and 20,000+ miles a year. I enjoy driving and working on my vehicles and I can rebuild standard transmissions, but not automatics, I like to be self sufficient. I agree that cars with computers will not make it as a classic, there are very few that can diagnose and fix them now and replacement parts will not be on the shelf in probably 10-15 years. I have been in a lot of traffic in my day living on Long Island and having to pass through New York City to go anywhere and you take it in stride, stick or auto.
  • 10
    Joe Gross Cleveland, OH USA March 22, 2017 at 19:51
    Automatic transmission for passenger cars, manual for sports cars period!!! Technology has taken the fun and knowledge out of driving, few drivers even know how to parallel park or back out of their own driveway any more ;-(
  • 11
    Jim Liberty CA March 22, 2017 at 20:51
    From the perspective of someone in their late 70s, Manual gear boxes are the choice. I would not by a sports car without them. That said, my experiences are centered around these cars. Also my skills have diminished with time, and a 125 HP car that with a 4 speed fits well. I suspect vintave cars will always be in demand. But times are a cangin'.
  • 12
    James Hutcherson Reno, NV March 22, 2017 at 21:21
    The classic car to me is the car that I can take apart, replace needed parts and put back together without having attained an engineering degree before I started. The idea of working on the cars of today where you need a computer to talk to the cars computer and find out that the cars computer has a glitch and has to be replaced along with assorted sensors and indicators. This leaves very little room to show off the individuals creativity. The classic car will always be the one that everybody else does not have and was built by the individual to his specifications.
  • 13
    Louis Pratt Caldwell, ID March 22, 2017 at 21:24
    I have a '65 Buick Wildcat and a '66 Buick LeSabre. They both have a 401 engine. The Wildcat has an automatic and the LeSabre has a 4 speed. Between shifts the LeSabre accelerates somewhat faster, but time and speed are lost in the shifting. In a given distance they perform about the same.
  • 14
    Pam Shewan Florida March 22, 2017 at 21:35
    Manual Trans is the best, of course. Otherwise you are not really driving or in full control of your car. I want to control my revs, engine braking and traction. Otherwise the car just "slushes" around. Besides, who wants to drive a "sport" car without a standard trans. You might as well drive an SUV or 1970 Caddy. A Manual Trans is the way God intended ALL Sport cars to be driven. The fact that a new Ferrari cannot be ordered with a Manual is like having a self driving Ferrari. A waste of Time.
  • 15
    Frank Doyle New England March 23, 2017 at 13:51
    Even a mfg. like Audi has fewer options with a stick shift on new cars now. I would pay more for this option, if I had to.
  • 16
    Albert Mexico City March 23, 2017 at 14:26
    It is a trend hard to predict. Personally, I love manual gearbox but daily traffic make them a pain. In the future , millenials will go in general for the easy-to-drive articles ( including cars) but purists and car lovers will remain for a while
  • 17
    S L Tacoma, WA, USA March 23, 2017 at 14:50
    In thirty years' time, the cars of today, and the cars of the past will be BANNED. It breaks my heart to think about it, but the cars will be gone. In order to make self-driving cars work, and work well, they must be networked. In order for that network to be able to predict the actions of other cars on the road, all the cars must be self-driving. It is coming. They'll have to pry my cold dead fingers off the steering wheel of my 1951 Buick Special DeLuxe. (I am 39, and I work in IT.)
  • 18
    Dean Prevolos Florida March 23, 2017 at 07:00
    I am all about manual transmission, whether it is my Porsche 911 Carrera S, my Corvette, my Datsun 280ZX or my 1936 Packard! The only new car I purchased with an Automatic(2005 Corvette) I gave to my wife, I couldn't stand the auto transmission.
  • 19
    Luckless Pedestrian Northeast March 23, 2017 at 07:07
    Have to agree with the comment about the '50s through the '80s being the era of the classic sports car... and that it always will be. More modern cars are great, but keeping the electronic systems in good order 25, 30 and more years on will become quite challenging (try getting any 25 - 30 year old tech device repaired today)... There's a "golden age" for everything...
  • 20
    TJ New York March 23, 2017 at 08:24
    Every generation looks at the cars driving by, thinking about what they are and how far we've come since the previous generation. I remember as a kid saying to myself, "Those cars will NEVER be considered a classic car", yet here we are, quite a few years later, and those too-modern-for-their-own-good cars of the 70s are now fetching a pretty penny from the classic car collectors of the world. The question of whether the modern day electronically controlled cars will be considered classics is a valid one. While many collectors are in it for the money that can be made, many of them also look at these cars as a reminder of their childhood days, or of a time that brought them much happiness. This is an aspect of car collecting that exceeds all others. People want to relive their youth, they want to feel like a kid again and enjoy those times that put smiles on their faces. What connects the reminiscers with those times (aside from music) are the cars that they owned or rode in when they had those experiences. For that reason alone there will be a market for today's modern cars, or better yet, tomorrow's classic cars. The question of manual vs automatic has never really been a fair one. If you owned a classic car it had to be manual... otherwise you were hit with a 50% off penalty (sometimes even more!). The mere thought that anyone would want a classic car in auto is quite disturbing but I was recently shown how much of a market, or lack their of, existed for manual cars these days. I walked in to a local high-end dealership recently to buy a manual car and they immediately said it would be 6-8 weeks delivery. Mind you, I've bought manuals from this particular marquee before and never had to wait. They explained to me that the market is moving towards SUVs and autos so they are moving to a 50/50 model (of SUVs to sedans) all in automatic. Which means any manual car will have to be special ordered! Perhaps that's where the money will be in the future as today's cars age. Most people get autos because they don't want to drive a clutch in traffic. Others like the panel shifters because it feels like an F1 car. Yet when we get in the seat of an old car and put our hands on the shifter we immediately get a sense of joy, bringing us back to the good ole days where you felt like you were one with the road. If there are limited manuals available now just imagine what the market will bring for them in the future... when they no longer make them (which is apprently more likely than I had ever anticipated). I guess we'll see!
  • 21
    mark hopkins dayton oh. March 23, 2017 at 08:40
    The topic discussions of these three guys is really boring! I have given them several chances to improve but no more. What a waste of time.
  • 22
    Kacy S. Traverse City, MI March 23, 2017 at 10:44
    Very interesting discussion about newer collectable cars & their electronics. I, personally, don't agree with the comment about them being recycled after "their time" but how the public responds to them will be fantastic to see. Everyone has their own favorites and will rally to make sure that they are still around to be enjoyed. Great discussion overall.
  • 23
    Joe Canada March 23, 2017 at 10:46
    An interesting topic and timely though I'd suggest a survey of those who will be in the position to address this question in the future not those who presently populate the Classic car market today.
  • 24
    Bob Doughty Pennsylvania March 23, 2017 at 10:52
    I enjoy this discussion. I think if you don't know how to drive a stick shift car, you don't know how to drive. After saying that, I own a Mini Cooper S - 6 speed, Corvette Z06 - 6 speed and and Austing Healey 3000 - 4 speed with OD. I recently spoke with a Corvette engineer and he told me that a 16 year old with a new drivers license could easily beat an experienced driver with the 16 year old driving the new automatic paddle shift Corvette and the experienced driver with the 7 speed manual!! Sadly, the C7 Corvette may be that last with a manual gearbox.
  • 25
    Marilynn san marcos, TX March 23, 2017 at 11:40
    I need the control of a manual transmission. I was taken to task by a service writer because I could not put my vehicle into "park." Three years ago purchased last new vehicle of a specific marque in the State of Texas that had a manual transmission. Prepared to pay more for vehicle with manual transmission on next purchase.
  • 26
    Peter R. B.C., Canada March 23, 2017 at 00:19
    Don't count out these newer cars not lasting into the future. As much as there is a concern for "fragile" electronics, necessity is the mother of creation. We're seeing in this age aftermarket engine management systems able to now control factory variable valve timing, I wouldn't doubt there will be systems available in the future to handle the current crop of advanced engine and chassis controls. These latest cars are just too good to let them be crushed and recycled 20, 30 or more years from now. The kids of today will learn how to hack into them and keep them going in the future.
  • 27
    Pat S. LehighValley, PA March 23, 2017 at 00:26
    Sadly, I think the gentleman in the checked shirt is correct in saying today's modern cars won't be classics due to the electronics. When the circuit boards and computer chips on these cars go bad, the car won't run. They are an expensive part and have to be programmed for the specific model. Right now I have an '84 Olds sedan that I cannot find a replacement chip for. Fortunately this car will run without the computer, but it probably won't pass an emissions test. I had a '99 Jaguar XJR that in 2003 spent a week in the dealership for electrical problems related to the transmission and steering column. In the end, Jaguar told them to replace the computers and all the switches controlling the circuits to fix the problem. I would not want to be the guy in the driveway 20 years from now trying to fix those 2 problems, even if you could get all the parts. Maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully a few infants born today will open a classic computer chip manufacturing and programming company.
  • 28
    Ray Hays FL March 24, 2017 at 13:52
    Is there some reason you folks never use microphones to get good sound? Jeepers! 2 cameras and bathroom quality sound.
  • 29
    Rick L. New Hampshire March 24, 2017 at 20:15
    I am still driving my '03 Silverado with 299,000 miles because I cannot buy a new GM truck unless it is a Colorado with a 2 wheel drive 4 cylinder, not going to happen. My other vehicle is a '69 Corvette 4 speed. I do not want an automatic but I may have to give in when my truck starts costing too much to maintain.
  • 30
    Paul J Decker NY March 25, 2017 at 06:59
    I was considering replacing my 2001 SLK320 6 speed manual with a new SLK only to find that you cannot get a manual transmission on that car anymore (nor any MB). Sad. I like the connection, to hold in a lower gear waiting for the opportunity to punch it & move ahead, the ability to downshift to slow down, the knowledge that if it needs service I can work on it. I heard a story of an elderly women who was about to be car-jacked and when the young thugs got in the car and saw the stick, they didn't know what to do and they ran; who'd have thought a clutch pedal could be a theft deterrent. I am definitely not looking forward to driver-less cars. Driving is fun, challenging my self to get better and better. Ah, what do I know; I like driving farm tractors and heavy equipment too. As far as stop-n-go traffic, it amazes me how so many people actually speed up to meet the next car and put on the brakes and speed up again; when I drive, whether it be my sports car with stick or my SUV with automatic, find the general speed the traffic is moving and stay with it.
  • 31
    Alexander M. San Francisco, Ca. March 25, 2017 at 21:12
    Very interesting! Frankly, it's hard to believe that people of authority are trying to interpret the Manual Shift. I still have two that are four and five speed shifts. The Manual Shift was common and now it's considered something out of an antique store. The Manual Shift is just about the only think I would choose. Why? All One has to do is to take a long trip on the freeway. With an Automatic; One could easily end up going to sleep at the wheel.
  • 32
    Gary Homer Glen , Il March 26, 2017 at 15:48
    I definitely prefer a manual trans over an automatic . You get a much better feel and control of the car and the road . My first car was a 65 Chevelle delux 300 283 with a powerglide . I pulled that out and put a 327 and 4 speed out of a 64 vette that a friend of a friend wrecked , I also put a 292 (283 with a 327 crank) and 4 speed in a 62 Nova convertible . I remember once my brother and I went to buy a 62 Impala convertible 409 -4 speed the seller asked if I knew how to drive a 4 speed and I said yes but every time I let out the clutch the engine died the guy came over and said try taking off the emergence brake . That is one car I wished I would of keep . I have a 69 Corvette 350/350 with a 4 speed (bought in 83) , a 70 Nova that was originally a 3 peed on the floor but when I put the blower in the car in 77 I switched to a clutch-hydro manual automatic for better control (bought Nova in 74 ),and in 77 I bought a 71 Monte Carlo SS 454 with the auto but this was my Saturday night date and bar car. I have a car for all occasion but enjoy the vette the most . I have tried to teach my kids to drive the vette but none are interested . My son would rather drive the Nova and my daughters do not care for the long hood on the Monte . Oh well !!!!
  • 33
    Hagerty UK UK March 28, 2017 at 09:25
    Hi everyone, and thanks for the comments. We're really sorry about the sound, but we put these together at very short notice, and they were not initially intended for external use. However, we had such a great time filming them, and had such great discussions that we thought others might like to see them. We're also glad to say that we've recently invested in a very good microphone!
  • 34
    Craig Reisser Nebraska March 28, 2017 at 10:43
    I've owned manual shift BMWs for 46 years now starting with my 2002 that I've had all this time. I would not want an automatic transmission in a BMW -- three pedals on the floor are mandatory. When my independent BMW mechanic rebuilt the engine of my 2002 at 251,00 miles, we installed a Getrag 245 5-speed that came from an early eighties 320i. So I have an overdrive 5th gear on my '71 2002.
  • 35
    Karl Pallastrini Carmel California March 30, 2017 at 22:18
    Getting to be an old geezer and I learned to drive on a 4 speed manual transmission Renault 4CV. I graduated to pre-1967 VW's and finally wound up with an automatic after I was well into my late 20's. There is a place for the Manual Trans. We have coastal property with a very steep 3 mile dirt road to the house. Going down is where the manual trans excels. LOTS of braking power. Interestingly...going up hill through tough sledding, the automatic is actually better.

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