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A row-your-own three-pedal setup was once the gold standard for sports cars and economy vehicles alike. However, the popularity of automatic transmissions has curbed the availability of manual transmissions in popular nameplates. It’s a sad reality, but fans have to pay more for a six-speed stick shift setup in their favorite models, like the Ford Mustang and Toyota GR Supra. 

Several brands want you to pay more for the manual transmission in your favorite sports car models

A 2024 Ford Mustang GT shows off its six-speed manual transmission.
A Mustang GT’s interior | Ford

You’ve likely seen “save the manuals” stickers in car windows and on laptops. It’s a plea from car fans to preserve the presence of manual transmissions. Fortunately, 2024 arrived without snuffing out the remaining three-pedal options on the market. However, a few marques have positioned perennially popular sports cars with an unofficial manual tax.

  • Ford Mustang
  • Toyota GR Supra 3.0
  • BMW Z4

It’s true, the Toyota GR Supra and Ford Mustang offer manual gearboxes. However, both models omit a six-speed stick for their entry-level four-cylinder trims. While fans can still get a V8-powered Mustang GT with an MT-82 manual, it means fans will have to dig deeper to get a three-pedal Mustang or Supra. 

Specifically, the big-engine Supra and Mustang demand around $10,000 over their smaller-milled counterparts. It’s a big ask for fans who want the storied nameplates with a third pedal. Furthermore, the Z4 M40i gets a manual for 2024, albeit for an additional $3,500. 

Still, all hope isn’t lost for fans of grab-a-gear driving dynamics

Fortunately for dedicated sports car fans who aren’t satiated by a set of paddles, there are still a few nameplates with manual transmissions that don’t enforce a gearbox tax. For instance, the 2024 Nissan Z offers a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic gearbox for the same starting price point. 

That’s spectacular news for the Z car faithful, as the latest car also offers 400 horsepower in either trim. As a result, the Z Sport is one of the most affordable 400-horsepower, three-pedal sports cars on the market. Still, it’s not alone. The 2024 Subaru BRZ and its sibling, the Toyota GR86, offer six-speed manuals as standard gearbox options.

Therein lies two of the better rowable holdouts. Along with the always answer, the Mazda MX-5, the Japanese trio are the most affordable manual sports cars out there. Still, even with a handful of three-pedal favorites, the manual tax is evident.  

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