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The manual car is an increasingly rare part of the automotive landscape, limited to performance cars like Ford Mustangs and Toyota GR86s. However, there are still reasons to consider adding a three-pedal, stick-shift car instead of a model with an automatic transmission to your garage in 2023. Check out four reasons why a vehicle with a manual transmission deserves your attention, like old-fashioned fun. 

What are the pros and cons of manual cars?

A manual car shows off its white shift knob in lieu of an automatic transmission gear selector.
A cue ball five-speed shifter | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Picking a manual car over a vehicle with an automatic transmission offers several alluring advantages. 

  • It’s fun
  • Heritage
  • Some world-class sports cars are manual only
  • Anti-theft

However, while playing your transmission like a violin is tempting, there are a few cons to opting for a stick-shift car. Shocker: many issues could be rendered harmless with driver discipline.

  • Modern automatics are typically faster
  • Tailgating drivers could result in an accident after rolling
  • User error could result in expensive repairs like clutches. 

You’ve probably heard it from other car people: “I burned my clutch.” Well, it’s not just stinky; it’s costly. Moreover, the combination of hills and tailgaters could result in a rear-end collision. However, these concerns shouldn’t stop you if you want to pick up the keys to a three-pedal car.

Why do people like manual transmissions so much?

Quite simply: manual transmissions are fun. Drivers can select their own gears, stay in power bands and individual gears longer, and enjoy a much more responsive driving experience. Moreover, notchy transmissions like the TREMEC TR-3160 provide satisfying mechanical feedback. 

A manual transmission can enhance the driving experience even in small, economical cars. For instance, the 2023 Honda Civic lineup might be sensible, but the Si and Type R trims add driving thrill with six-speed manuals. 

Manual transmissions channel driving thrills from classic cars

Automatic transmissions have been around for a long time, but classic car enthusiasts and hot rodders routinely refer to them as “slushboxes” for their sluggish operation. However, many iconic classics, like the Jaguar XKE or Shelby Cobra, come to life with manual transmissions.

Fast forward to today’s manual gearboxes; the layout is essentially the same. A Toyota GR86 packs a three-pedal, stick-shift manual application. That’s no different from the manuals of yesteryear. Of course, the technology is more advanced, and some cars include rev-matching operations for seamless shifts. As a result, driving a modern three-pedal vehicle is a link to sports cars and roadsters of the past.  

What cars come with a manual transmission only?

A Ford Mustang Bullitt with a manual transmission shows off its three-pedal car setup.
Three pedals in a 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Very few cars on the market today come with a manual transmission only. For instance, the 2023 Honda Civic Type R is a manual-only application. However, several coveted sports cars from previous model years are also manual-only. 

For instance, the C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, S550 Shelby GT350, and Ford Mustang Bullitt are all exclusively three-pedal vehicles. Still, that means if you want any of these smile factories, you’ll have to be manual transmission-literate.

Is a manual transmission a good anti-theft measure?

According to U.S. News, just 18% of driving-age Americans can operate a car with a manual transmission. Statistically, that means a portion of car thieves won’t know how to use or want to bother with a three-pedal target car. 

Should we save the manuals? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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