What Happened To Manual Transmission Sports Cars?

Something about driving a car with a manual transmission gives owners such a different experience. There are many differences between driving a manual sports car and an automatic one, even without considering the mechanical components. Manual vehicles are typically considered drivers cars because they take more knowledge, skill, and practice to master than your standard automatic transmission. For how popular they are, why are manual transmission sports cars seeming to disappear?

The end of an era

Chevrolet teased us with the idea of the mid-engine Corvette for years. Once it was finally released, people had a lot of mixed opinions. The iconic muscle car lost a lot of its more traditional styling but kept the same concepts and ideas that made the car great in the first place. One thing that left many people feeling disappointed was that it was the first Corvette model that wasn’t produced with a manual transmission. That in itself makes a pretty big statement.

A blue 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray races around a desert racetrack
2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray | Chevrolet

What happened to the manual transmission?

Fewer and fewer sports cars are being offered with a manual transmission even though many people would still buy them. There is more to the research and design of offering both a manual transmission. Having a manual transmission isn’t always the economical answer for some companies, because not everyone can drive one in modern days. As sad as a fact as that may be, there just aren’t as many people who want stick-shift cars.

Driving a car with a stick shift is fun, but it isn’t always practical for everyday driving. When you’re on your way to the office and haven’t had your first cup of coffee yet, or you’re just stuck in traffic, the average driver is just happier with an automatic. Parents who drive their kids around don’t have to focus on shifting, commuters can relax on their drive to work and concentrate on traffic, and it’s altogether more practical. While true car enthusiasts don’t mind daily driving a manual, that isn’t the case for a broader consumer basis.

A driver manipulates the manual transmission.
Driving stick shift | Motortion/Getty Images

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Aftermarket companies to the rescue

Although it isn’t common, and certainly not available for every single car, there are a number of aftermarket customization companies across the country that have a big offer. For several thousand dollars or more, you can get your automatic car fitted with a manual transmission. This is easier for automated manual transmissions than standard automatic transmissions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can still get the manual transmission you want.

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Since GM released the hydramatic transmission — the first fully automatic transmission to go into full-scale production — a lot has changed. Decades have passed, and it seems like manual sports cars are dying out altogether, regardless of brand. There is just something about driving a manual that we aren’t willing to let go of, though.