In 1980 Toyota introduced their first front-drive car, the Tercel.
Due to cost of certifying them for California the 80 model was only available with a manual transmission in CA.
Hertz was bought a fleet of Toyotas that year, including the new Tercels. Every single one that was rented out of San Francisco had a burnt out clutch within a week. Hills+ inexperienced stick drivers=clutch failure.
Actually, there are clutchless manuals. Not on commercial automobiles of course.
A lot of my co-workers just take public transportation when they go to Europe as they can't drive manuals. Automatics aren't available at most rental locations.
I can honestly say I struggled with automatics at first, I had hard time to drive them smoothly. I still choose manual everytime there is an option as they are easier for me to drive. Both of my cars are manuals, I certainly wouldn't buy an automatic.
Lowest Common Denominator is the reason. It's much easier to just stock automatics so that all possible renters can drive the car, than rely on a driver's knowledge of driving a car with a stick-shift transmission.
34 and don't know how to drive standard. Sitting in i-95 traffic is MUCH easier if you don't have to keep using a clutch.
Homer: "Honk, gas, Brake! Gas, gas, Honk!..."
Actually, the thing that surprised me was when I was looking at BMW's, the guy asked if I wanted to test drive one and I said "Only if it's automatic" and he was like "They all are" - He then said that you'd be surprised at how many people want automatic.
Actually it's about the same effort whether it is automatic or manual. Usually you just have to use two pedals. On automatic the brake is usually like a clutch, you keep it down most of the time. On manual you rarely have to touch the brake on stop-and-go. Sometimes you only need to use clutch. Manual being harder to drive on heavy traffic is a myth.
Now, talking on the cellphone and shifting gears is a little harder but not that really that hard. Especially if you have mastered steering with your knee...
My husband and I had the same experience when we bought our Ford Explorer SportTrac two years ago. Had to be a manual. But since I'm really short (5'0"), I needed to have tilt-wheel included. Well Ford, the numbnuts they are, only makes the manual in the "bargain" tier and if you want ANYTHING extra, you need to get the next tier up. Ha! But the next tier only came in automatics. This was new for the '03s. So we just found an '02 that was both a manual and had extra options. Worked out perfectly! But I shudder to think of what we'll have to go through next time I get a new vehicle for me.
But anyway, the point of this is when we were talking with a salesman we told him it MUST be a manual. He looked at us like we had three heads and then proceeded to try to sell us an automatic (they had no manuals on the lot, surprise surprise). Then finaly I interrupted him and had to tell him rudely "Look, we're only buying a manual. It's a dealbreaker. You can either help find us one, or we'll find one on our own.". Surprisingly, he said he couldn't locate any within the state. Ha! We promptly left to another Ford dealership and they had one located within 10 min. Delivered it to us the next morning. What a freakin' moron.
the main reason that manuals are disappearing is the fact that is is easier to EPA certify are car with an automatic since they can give the engine computer greater control over all functions due to badly written regulations
it cost a great deal of money to send a car through the certification tests and you have to do it with each drive train combination, so they just skip the manuals in most categories except the sporty cars and economy cars ( trucks are done differently)
I learned to drive on a manual. Learned how to pop-start a small car alone, with a dead battery in the dead of night. Learned how to not kill cars behind me when stopped at a light on a steep hill. My first car was a standard, a Ford Escort which I for ten years until last December.
I bought a new Honda Accord V6 automatic! I love it. I do not miss driving a manual at all. Push gas, car go. Hit brake, car stop. Me like.
A few car-nut friends have told me I'm going to miss it, but I don't think so. At this point in my life, I find no redeeming value in a manual.
They used to provide better gas mileage, but automatics are really close these days, within one or two MPG. On a "cheap" Escort, I could shift more smoothly than an automatic would, but modern transmissions now shift more smoothly than I can manually.
Perhaps if I ever buy a sports car, I'll be inclined to get a manual for the sport of it. But for daily driving the automatic beats the manual, hands down.
I didn't see it mentioned, but the ferarri F1 trans is a true clutchless manual. I'm sure it's available on the 360 modena. Everything is a manual, just servo driven with pads on the wheel as I understand it.
You can also get a sequential tranny on a MR2 Spyder, but of course, Toyota is not importing the MR2 anymore after next year or so so it'll be moot. I have a '02 MR2 Spyder with the SMT tranny. It's a blast to drive, it has steering wheel controls and is made by a German company called Luk. Although, unlike BMW, Ferrari, Aston Martin, the Sequential tranny in the MR2 isn't programmed to be too sporty, there is a slight lag in the shifts and it doesn't shift as fast as say the BMW one in the M3, but it's also not a $50k car either. I enjoy the SMT, it's a lot of fun and I'm not too concerned with 0-60 times anyway.
I work for a Toyota dealer service dept. That sequential MR-2 Spyder reminds me of how the "manual" trans works on most video games, it's a hoot and a half.
I recently purchased a new Mazda 3S sedan. Mine was the only manual trans Mazda 3 on the entire lot. I had to have one more stick (last one I had was an '87 Corolla FX-16) before they disappear entirely. This thing shifts like butter, very forgiving clutch action and positive shifter, and 2nd is good for 60mph!
Got stuck in my first freeway jam today--3 miles of stop/go, no problem at all as the engine is torquey enough and the clutch engages smoothly enough that you can just ease out the clutch without giving any gas and it will creep forward with no lurching.
I learned to drive on a 40hp VW Karmann Ghia (in Sacramento) so stick is second nature. In my job I'm in and out of a dozen cars and trucks a day with sticks and autos, ya kinda learn to adapt pretty quickly that way.