The manual transmission is disappearing. Unfortunately, so are people who can drive a stick shift. You know the cultural trend is widespread when Saturday Night Live pokes fun at it. In a skit last weekend, a young thief tries to boost a Lamborghini Diablo, only to encounter his first manual transmission. The Lamborghini bit is suspiciously similar to recent real-life stories we covered of thieves stymied by the stick shift.
Saturday Night Live skit ‘The Heist’ features a Lamborghini Diablo
“The Heist” opens with a security guard (Kenan Thompson) patroling a billionaire’s car collection. In the background, we can see several expensive cars. The owner proudly displays a convertible BMW i8. An Aston Martin Vantage sits nearby. The garage even houses a Tesla Model S.
Thompson discovers a rope someone apparently used to rappel from the roof. Then the intruder tasers him and ties him up. The thief is named Ghost (Chris Redd). He walkie-talkies his crew: a hacker (Mikey Day) and mastermind (host Kieren Culkin). They tell him to steal the vintage Lamborghini.
Ghost hops behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Diablo, and the hacker opens the doors. Then the thief starts the car, revs the engine, and stomps the gas. To his dismay, it stalls.
The Lamborghini Diablo’s manual transmission thwarts the fictional thief.
The second half of the SNL skit is a treat for manual transmission fans. The thief has never seen a stick shift before. So when he encounters three pedals and a gear select lever, he assumes it’s some “new, new tech.” He even guesses “military maybe?” His older team members finally realize he is describing a stick shift.
With the clock ticking, the team tries to teach Ghost how to drive stick–over the radio. They argue about how best to describe the process. Meanwhile, Ghost starts and stalls repeatedly. Ghost inches across the garage in the stolen Lamborghini, and the security guard cannot resist making fun of him. The manual transmission anti-theft device works. The skit does not end well for the confused driver or the stolen Lamborghini.
Manual transmissions have prevented multiple car thefts
Only 2.4% of cars sold today have manual transmissions. For this reason, few new drivers bother learning to drive stick. But plenty of cars still on the road are stick shift. These range from classic vintage Lamborghinis to fuel-efficient Honda Civics to work trucks. Inevitably, younger car thieves will eventually encounter a manual transmission. Whenever this happens, the results are at least amusing for fans of the manual transmission.
In 2019, thieves pulled up next to a 1995 Honda Civic at an Alabama gas station. One of them jumped in the car, and the others waited for him to drive away. Instead, security cameras recorded their embarrassing attempts to move the stick-shift-equipped car.
Last month, a food delivery driver in New Jersey suffered a similar carjacking attempt. You can read more about that story here.