Talking to a co-worker, and we got on the subject of cars. She asked what I drove and I told her a Z06. She then said she wouldn’t want one because it didn’t come as a stick shift. I had to tell her it did, but the auto was faster. Her rebuttal was, “It’s not about the speed – it’s about the “experieence”. You aren’t driving a sports car if it’s auto.”

I don’t understand this. It IS about the speed. ?Why else would you have a sports car. ALL modern race cars have auto transmissions. If you didn’t want to go fast, you could always drive a minivan.

The world seems full of these silly myths.

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54 Responses to Myths

  1. MLHMLH says:

    It’s a control issue. So I, a manual transmission fan, have been told.

    bonuses: less likely to be stolen; most friends won’t ask to borrow your car.

    • DevereauxDevereaux says:

      Look, I HAVE a manual tranny. It’s in a 1973 Porsche. Back then to make an engine run hard you needed a manual. Not so today. Driving an anachronism has its value – but it must BE an anachronism.

      Today’s cars are too good and too sophisticated for manual trannys. And I’m sorry, but speed counts.

  2. 10 Cents10 Cents says:

    My maxi-scooter has a CVT automatic transmission. It is nice not to think about shifting so I can concentrate on the road.

    Is Z06 a Corvette? The auto is faster than the manual now. Why id modern AT so much better?

  3. BrentB67BrentB67 says:

    I see both sides of this discussion. Devereaux is absolutely correct that automatics these day are faster than manual transmissions. There was a great article on Business Insider about the 2017 Corvette GS highlighting the phenomenon.

    I am not the driver that Devereaux is so the subtle difference in manual and automatic transmission performance with the edge to the automatic may be lost on a neophyte like me.

    I am also a 21st century renaissance (fancy way of saying Junior Curmudgeon, Reserve Status) man and appreciate the novelty and subtlety of a clutch and manual transmission. There is something special about floating the shift between gears without depressing the clutch at just the right RPM.

    It is also important to note that a manual transmission acts as a theft deterrent to most, if not all, the people under 40 years old.

    • DevereauxDevereaux says:

      Corvettes are among THE hardest cars to steal. They are all electronic so you have to have the right electronics to get into them, much less drive them away.

      Once upon a time all trannys were manual. Indeed, they didn’t even have synchros, so speed matching and double clutching both UP and DOWN were required else you never got the car in gear (at least without much mashing and gnashing of gears). These were “fondly” referred to as “crash boxes”.

      The introduction of synchros made the shifting much easier, but, eg. Porsche has rather weak synchros so you have to help them along by double clutching, especially on down shifts. If you are motoring “at a manly speed” you will end up having to heel-and-toe to get the right meshing speeds.

      Manual trannys, on Corvettes today are also run by a computer. They have something called “Rev Match” wherein the computer matches up the tranny-to-engine speeds and the shifting is therefore smooth. But slower. Indeed, at Ron Fellows School, where I went last week, you drove what you bought, and they insisted all the stick people used the Rev Match system. And launched the car at idle, carefully engaging the clutch (I taught my kids the same trick as a means of starting uphill from a standing start). They were wanting the clutch to last a while.

      So like it or not, you can’t escape the electronics. And it does make your life easier. AND they ARE faster.

  4. Vald the MisspellerVald the Misspeller says:

    Over 90% of cars sold in the US have automatic transmissions, and it’s been over 25 years since I’ve owned a manual. Of course, this is not the case with motorcycles, where automatic transmissions would be … wrong.

    (Don’t worry, Ten Pennies, your ‘maxi-scooter’ doesn’t count: it’s not a motorcycle, just an oxymoron with a carbon footprint.)

    • 10 Cents10 Cents says:

      Vald, I thought there was a motor on it. It takes gas so I just figured it was a motorcycle.

      Before I bought it. I asked a friend. He said the scooters were just more life friendly. I have 60 liters of storage under the seat. I have a top box for 40 more. It is nice not to have to have my feet on pegs so I can move my legs a little when I ride.

      It is nice to just twist and scoot.

      • Vald the MisspellerVald the Misspeller says:

        I bought a Norton 750* in England and rode it around Europe for a couple of months, somehow managing not to kill myself in the process. These days it lies enshrined on the back patio, where mice build nests on top of the carburetors and spiders string webs between the handle bars. If I want to go anywhere on two wheels, I have a bicycle for that. Your scooter sounds like practical transportation and fun to boot.

        *Nortons were built by drunken Druids using the very latest in medieval technology. There were at least three different standards of nuts on the damn things, SAE, metric, and Whitworth. There were also a few screws and fasteners that didn’t seem to belong to any standard — we dubbed these, ‘Precambrian’. For instance, there was a large but thin hex nut you need to get off in order to drain the primary chain case which absolutely nothing seemed to fit. It turns out a special wrench made to remove the crown nuts on the forks would do the trick. No one told us this of course and, in any event, such a wrench was nowhere to be found among the fine selection of stone axes masquerading as the tool kit.

        • DevereauxDevereaux says:

          I had a Norton Dominator 99 (about ’54) in race trim, missing the top brace motor mount. I took off and sold the race stuff – which just paid for the engine rebuild needed shortly after getting it. It seemed so fast, but if you rode it for a couple hours, you felt like you were still riding it hours later, the vibrations staying with you.

          I just sold a 79 Triumph, the last year Triumph made them. Nice bike but I hadn’t ridden it in 20 years. OTOH, I have an 82 Honda CB1100R, which is an endurance race bike. Faster than I’ll ever be. I ride it once in a while – just enough to scare my wife.

          • Vald the MisspellerVald the Misspeller says:

            Yeah, by the time they got to the Commando, they were trying to isolate the engine vibration by mounting it to the frame with rubber shock absorbers. This improved the ride but because the engine was now less rigidly mounted, it really shook the hell out of itself. This in turn caused other problems. For instance, the header nuts on the exhaust pipes would slowly rotate themselves loose and the Amal carbs — notoriously squirrelly anyway — were constantly going out of sync, especially at idle.(I would keep a screwdriver in my back pocket in case the Amals needed tweeking while stopped at a traffic light.)

      • DevereauxDevereaux says:

        I can just see it – there’s centime pulling wheelies with his scooter. Oh, wait…

  5. MLHMLH says:

    I figure that I’ll buy two more cars in my life. The penultimate will be a manual. The ultimate? Well, I figure that I’ll be old enough to want an automatic.

  6. TKC1101TKC1101 says:

    I was a stick shift guy for years. I raised two kids who despised that they had to learn to drive on manual transmission vehicles. Both later on thanked me and told me when the other kids found out they could drive a stick, they assumed an aura of instant coolness, which is the coin of the realm in teenagedom.

    I am with Dev, the automatics won. My Truck has ten speeds and a serious CPU that uses them all.

    I can still grab control of the process but all I am doing is making fun noise and running a bit slower than the CPU can do it.

    I get wistful about the skill I acquired at matching clutch, accelerator and engine feel to smoothly run the gears on vehicles such as my 65 Mustang, my 64 Falcon, my 64 International (Like pushing a hammer through a box of rocks as a friend once described the experience) up to my last one, a 90 Bronco. It was fun and satisfying.

    I do not get wistful about such experiences I missed like manually advancing the spark timing and exterior engine cranking to get started. Such skills are best observed at antique car shows. I leave those to my brother, who does restorations.

    Sports Cars are fast and fun. No other specs required. All they require is the imagination and daring of a driver.

    • DevereauxDevereaux says:

      I taught both my kids to drive stick. My daughter’s first car (her choice) was a turbo Beetle with a stick. She knew how to heel-and-toe and would wheel into the parking lot, downshifting and parking the car, leaving all the boys in awe.

      I still have to heel-and-toe my old Porsche, as the tranny is a bit fragile. Old skills don’t die so easily. But you should see the Z with a stick. It has rev-matching, making up and down shifts easy.

      Still, you cannot imagine the fun factor of driving a Z on the track last week. You mash the throttle, just hit the up-stick when the greens flash and never lift! Car just shifts! And goes faster. As you brake into the corner you tap the down-paddle and you get a downshift that even sounds like you did it manually.

      Brake, downshift, turn in, apex, and on the gas! Oh Lordy what fun! And fast.

    • DevereauxDevereaux says:

      There’s even this thing called Launch. In track mode, you stomp on the brake, floor the gas, then just let go the brake. CCar does a little tire-squalling but off it goes – and even up shifts at the right moment. You can do that with the stick version, but it’s slower.

  7. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    But think of other things. My wife constantly messes with the temperature setting, thinking if it’s cold she will get warm sooner if she turns up the heat knob. But nothing happens until the engine warms up enough to transmit heat. Samy-samy with the A/C.

    It happens with other things. I have a friend with a Cessna 310. He’s coming home in the soup, shoots three approaches to mins and doesn’t see the runway, so he diverts to his secondary. I ask him if he had the autopilot on. He’s offended! He thinks you’re suppose to hand fly it because what if something goes bad. I try to gently ‘splain the autopilot is just like any other system. You use EVERYTHING when stuff isn’t going quite as you wanted. No one hand-winds down the gear, although you csn.

  8. 10 Cents10 Cents says:

    I love posts like this that bring out the Druids and the high tech.

    I am with Dev and TKC. There was a time when doing things manually made sense but now is not the time. With my Yamaha there is a down side. I can’t down shift to used the engine to brake the speed going downhill. Since it is a continuous variable transmission there is no sense of up shifting sense because there are so many “gears” the belt goes through.

  9. 10 Cents10 Cents says:

    Here is a video on the continuously variable transmission. At a constant RPM it will go through the “gears” after one gets past a certain point. There are springs that “down shift” the transmission when I let off the gas.

  10. 10 Cents10 Cents says:

    This is a good video from Yamaha showing a similar CVT.

  11. NandaNanda says:

    I can “floor” my mobility-aid with a pinkie-finger. [nyah-nyah]

  12. EThompson says:

    I’d love to “floor” my V8 engine as I normally do, but just rcvd a $300 dollar ticket for going 40 in a 30 MPH zone. The cop gave me a break because (as usual) I was not wearing my seatbelt and that normally incurs an additional $150.

    The party is truly over. I just dropped off my husband at the airport using I-75 where the driving limit is 70. I enjoy my Beemer at 85 MPH in an empty left lane but didn’t need an additional 3 pts on my record so I tooled along at 70 in the right lane. Boring…

    • BrentB67BrentB67 says:

      We all love you and will miss you terribly if you are called home early.

      Drive as fast as you want, but please strap on the seat belt.

      This place will not be the same without you.

    • DevereauxDevereaux says:

      Liz – there are wholly inappropriate seat belt laws, predicated on the stupid concept that driving is a privilege when it ought to be a right.

      That said, seat belt wearing is a great addition to the Darwin Awards, weeding out the subpar from the thinking people. ?What makes your brains turn to mush and float into your expensive shoes the moment you sit in your car. You express intelligent comments here, yet refuse to acknowledge all the statistics that wearing seat belts is a huge benefit to surviving a crash.

      • EThompson says:

        Ok you guys; I promise you that I wear my seat belt on I-75 but maybe not so much driving to the grocery store.

        Frankly, I’m most afraid of airbags so I do drive defensively (if fast at times) with my eye on every driver in my vicinity. I’m the one who waves everyone else through a 4-way stop sign even if I’m the first to pull up. And here in my little village, that is exactly where most fender benders occur.

        • DevereauxDevereaux says:

          No, Liz. You are going to make a public promise to ALWAYS wear your seatbelt, and then you are going to do it.

          ?Do you realize most auto deaths occur within 5-6 miles of home and at 40 MPH of less.

          Just do it, dear. Don’t make us go all medieval on you.

          • EThompson says:

            Sir Yes Sir!

            • drlorentzdrlorentz says:

              I’m gonna chime in with Devereaux here. As annoyed as I am with the concept seat belt laws, I am a regular seat belt user. I can even tell you exactly when I came to the realization this was a good idea.

              I was driving to do some rock climbing somewhere in Massachusetts with a guy and his wife. We were joking around about how the most dangerous part of the excursion was the drive, compared to the lesser danger of falling from the rock face. The wife, who was sitting in the back seat, hands me the seat belt saying, “You guys think that’s so funny. You use ropes on the rock. Why don’t you wear your friggin’ seat belts.” Something like that.

      • NandaNanda says:

        What Brent & Dev said…

  13. drlorentzdrlorentz says:

    I agree with the consensus that sticks are a thing of the past, especially when it comes to speed. But I disagree that sports cars are all about speed. It’s all about *handling*. Especially when it comes to fun, driving fast on a straightaway is not nearly as much fun as drifting around the Andretti hairpin at Laguna Seca. And, yeah, I had to know how to drive a stick to do it but that’s incidental (see avatar pic).

    I can never take my car up to its limit in speed without getting busted by the cops but I can take curves at higher speed than with your average sedan. Handling and acceleration are the keys to a fun drive. Technically, it’s all just acceleration because taking a curve at high speed results in high lateral acceleration.

    • EThompson says:

      “But I disagree that sports cars are all about speed. It’s all about *handling*.”

      I agree with this. Several years ago, I was testing an Audi that literally floats on the road and my first BMW that hugs the road tightly and makes you feel safe to speed (wearing a seat belt of course). :)

      I’ll never buy anything else.

      • drlorentzdrlorentz says:

        You want it to corner like it’s on rails.

        Yeah, and wear your seat belt.

        • EThompson says:

          I like the fact that the car doesn’t wig out if I have to make a sudden stop or take a sharp turn; it simply slows down to 10 MPH automatically. In other words, it makes me feel comfortable in any dire situation.

          • DevereauxDevereaux says:

            See, this, too, is modernity. Was a time cars weren’t very sophisticated in the engineering sphere, so you HAD to do things like “drift”. It was the only way to get around a corner quickly.

            Take the AC Cobra. Initially Carrol Shelby got very lucky when he married a Ford 289 to an AC Ace chassis. The Ace had transverse springs and equal arm suspension. Geometry says that when you lean the car (G’s) you automatically lean the tires, so greatly decreasing the tire patch. So no stick. And the harder you went, the more the tires leaned, the less grip you got.

            The 427 Cobra was a totally redesigned car. It had unequal A-arms with coil-over spring/shocks and handled far better. But it was still a beast. Today my Z is far more sophisticated, not only in suspension but in springing, shock absorbtion, Ackerman steering (not much – for straight line stability at high speed). And then there’s the tire technology. The wheels have huge offset, but the construction is strong enough to hold the tire properly. Low profile tires that are wider than Manhattan do much to improve the stick. AND ride. By comparison the 427 is an ancient brute.

      • DevereauxDevereaux says:

        (wearing a seat belt of course). :)


  14. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    Don’t get all technical on me, doc. Sports cars about going fast. Drag cars are about going fast in a straight line. ?Did you know that a modern AA Fuelie can be sitting at the start line and another car can come up at 200 mph, and if the dragster launches as the other guy crosses the line, he will beat the other guy to the 1/4 mile mark.

    “Drifting” is another anachronism. Modern race cars don’t drift. They turn, at ungodly G’s – or they’re gone. Life has changed. You have to go with the flow.

    (And it’s just as hard if not harder to keep a car at max stick as to slide it around a corner – maybe harder. Watch a modern F1 race sometime for expert performances.)

    • drlorentzdrlorentz says:

      Point taken about anachronisms. I am out of it, freely admit. However, drifting is fun and it does require skill. So are the ungodly g’s, whether attained by drifting or some other way. Same goes for g’s on acceleration in a straight line. Honestly, doing that hairpin was the most fun I’ve had that didn’t involve sex.

      Just going fast on a straightaway? Meh. Every time I travel with my colleague in his twin engine, we are going faster on takeoff and landing than I’ll ever get to travel on the surface of the Earth.

      But hey, it’s all fun. Now I have the need for speed!

      • MLHMLH says:

        Now I have the need for speed!

        Today I’ll be going low and slow — alas, no, not in a helo; just a hike in the forest. I won’t even try to drive the mountain road fast: because: deer.

    • DevereauxDevereaux says:

      OK. I’ll go with the anachronisms. I do some of those things myself. I have a 1973 Porsche, all original, including motor, interior, and paint. In the last 12 years it has gotten <700 miles on it. But on nice, sunny summer days it comes out and takes a ride to a nice restaurant or to a street show. And it's fun to drive an old car. Wish I had something like a 1928 Packard, too. Preferably a convertible with the second windshield and running boards.

      Speed is relative to your environment. 300 kts at 17,000' is boring. 300 kts at 100', yanking and banking is FUN! While I don't think of it that way, must be the danger that adds to the enjoyment.

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