Readers Rides

Automatic or Shift In A Muscle Car?

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By Mark Weisseg

Recently I had a crazy idea about selling one of my classic cars. I thought I would sell one in order to buy something else. The idea was to cause change and have something new and interesting in the garage.

So, I put the word out and a friend contacted me and the first thing he asked was, “Is it a stick”? The answer was no because at the time when I bought the car I loved it at first glance and quite frankly it did not matter if it was a stick or an automatic.
Well, that exchange got me thinking. Why would he only want a stick shift? Well, the answer is of course he has it in his head that only a hot rod car should have a stick shift. I took offense to that and told him while you are depressing the clutch I am depressing the gas pedal! Now, I have automatics and stick shift vehicles and both are fun to drive. But to rule out any car because it does not have a third pedal is foolish. Think I am wrong? Read on.

The new Dodge Challenger Hellcat is a monster sales hit. They cannot build them fast enough and have added lines and a shift to keep up with the sales demand. All 707 hp of this street legal car is managed by an automatic transmission. You cannot get a four or five speed stick shift. Nope. All automatics. How dare they!

If you are in the commercial business and want to buy a new heavy duty pick up truck it is very hard to find a stick shift. Everything is an automatic. Heck, you can buy an 18 wheeler today that has a automatic transmission. It baffled me a bit so I decided to do some low end research in my backyard. I started asked the young men in my family and at shows if they could drive a stick. All I heard is crickets. Very few young people can drive a stick shift? What the heck. My first vehicle was a three on the floor and I learned by grinding the gears and jerking the truck back and forth until I had whiplash. But, I learned and never forgot.

Today the middle age guys can drive a stick but will admit is easier to put it in drive, turn on XM radio, turn the a/c on and go down the road in the resto mod Chevelle. For example, I have a friend that dreamed of owning a 1969 Camaro Z28 for years.
He found one, shipped it home, spend a gazillion dollars having it restored to look like new, and there it sits. Why? He told me after about two hours of driving this beauty he had enough. His back hurt, it rode rough, he constantly was shifting, he …. Wait there is the problem. For the last twenty years he has had daily drivers that are cars and trucks with plush seats, all the creature comforts and an automatic transmission. Sure his Z28 is sweet but to drive it everyday. No way, too much work. So, this takes me full circle to my first paragraph. What did I do regarding selling my car? I kept it. I came to my senses and realized I loved this car and was foolish to even think about selling it. As for my friend, he is still searching for that perfect hot rod with a clutch. He has a wife and small child now so I wish him good luck with that.

For me, I will still drive my vehicles with a automatic transmission and the ones with a clutch but it appears the days of the stick shift may be joining the ranks of drum brakes.

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