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Cool 🕶️ Your favorite and/or coolest manual transmission car you've owned

mendelman

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Unfortunately, I never owned an objectively 'cool' manual transmission car.

Mine were:
  • 1992 Subaru Loyale wagon - this one was at least fun in minor off-roading
  • 1999 Escort wagon - just gutless, but a good gas sipper and utilitarian
The coolest I've driven was my Dad's 2007 Audi S4 convertible (he no longer has it though). It had the 4.2L V8 and was a screamer. :D
 
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luckless pedestrian

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1986 Subaru 2 door hatch
1989 Subaru Impreza sedan
1994 Subaru station wagon (not the Loyale but not the Outback yet)
2004 Subaru Outback wagon
2015 VW Jetta Turbo Diesel

not really cool but I will say the 86 2-door could go pretty fast
 

Planit

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My present car, 2008 Mini Cooper Clubman S. This car is the most fun to drive from those I've owned, it's a blast. My only dislike is it doesn't have cruise control for the highway - but I don't need it on the twisty roads!

Second best was my 1977 Toyota Corrolla SR5 Liftback. Had this when I was young and had a ton of fun in it.

I owned 2 Ford Ranger pickups with a stick & they were fine I reckon.

My dad had an early Honda Prelude & that was a hoot until he wrecked it.
 

The Terminator

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Hands down my dearly departed 1991 Volvo 245 wagon. I got it with 310k (!!!) and it ran and drove perfectly after I corrected a rich run issue due to a faulty coolant temperature sensor. Car was only on its 2nd clutch and it shifted/emgaged with 0 issues! The 2.3l redblock 4 cyl engine was a little anemic, but paired to a 5 speed it was super fun, especially when drifting in empty snowy parking lots ;) I lost it to black ice on I-80, 6 months after I got it :( It felt like losing a loved one.

Next up would be the 1992 Volvo 244 that I daily drove for almost two years than sold to a friend before moving back to Montréal. I got 15,000 good miles out of that cars original 1992 Clutch before I had to replace it. Also equipped with the Volvo (really Borg-Warner) M47 5 speed gearbox and 3.31 ratio rear axle. Volvo manual gearboxes from the 70s-early 90s had a dogleg shift pattern and reverse lockout switch, I reallly liked the configuration. Squad goal is to buy this car back from my buddy eventually.

I guess my current '99 Camry is kinda cool, despite being the poster car for "uncool/dadmobile" simply by virtue of being equipped with a 5 speed. Very few XV20s were ordered with sticks in North America, and Ive only ever spotted one other example "in the wild", besides mine! Im trying to import it when I return Stateside, it's a forever car and phenomenal daily.

@luckless pedestrian : the Impreza wasn't offered as a model in North America (and I believe Japan too) until model year 1993. Are you sure it wasn't a 1989 GL/DL (Loyale/Leone) sedan? Also your 1994 wagon, if not a Loyale (94 was final year the Loyale was sold), it was most definitely a first generation Legacy. I have a soft spot for the first gen Lega's and Loyales. Im not including my 1999 5 speed Legacy L wagon on here because that car was a cursed Upstate NY vehicle that suffered from structural rust.
 

MD Planner

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I've had four manuals in my driving life:

  • 1987 Mustang GT
  • 1994 Jeep Cherokee Sport (got rid of it at 375K miles and still with the original clutch!)
  • 1984 Jeep Scrambler
  • 1994 Chevy S-10 (was my dad's until he died and then I had it. It was decidedly not cool but it was Dad's so . . . )
 

luckless pedestrian

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@luckless pedestrian : the Impreza wasn't offered as a model in North America (and I believe Japan too) until model year 1993. Are you sure it wasn't a 1989 GL/DL (Loyale/Leone) sedan? Also your 1994 wagon, if not a Loyale (94 was final year the Loyale was sold), it was most definitely a first generation Legacy. I have a soft spot for the first gen Lega's and Loyales. Im not including my 1999 5 speed Legacy L wagon on here because that car was a cursed Upstate NY vehicle that suffered from structural rust.

yes! the white Impreza was my MIL's car and we "inherited" it in 2000 when she stopped driving and I wrongly assumed it was older than it was - I think it was a 94, and yes, Legacy! That was the word I couldn't find in my head - thank you! That Legacy was a war wagon and it literally just died one day in the driveway at about 290k miles

I mush prefer standards, especially for driving in snow - it also forces non-mechanical types like myself to learn to "listen" to the car's engine - I could often tell when something wasn't quite right early on which was helpful with car upkeep as we keep our cars to about 250k before considering trading them in - I wouldn't know what was wrong but that something wasn't right, lol - now, with my automatic 2015 Jetta Diesel Turbo, I am clueless
 

Whose Yur Planner

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I've had two, a 70's era Jeep Cherokee and 97 S-10. The jeep was cool because it was my first vehicle. The S-10 was a toy truck and sucked. It was black and had no AC. In the very hot summers, it was horrible.
 

dandy_warhol

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I have never owned one but my father had a Chevy Beretta and I learned to drive stick on that. My favorite memory was when I was out learning and driving on city streets when I shifted from 1st to 2nd and threw the top of the gearshift into the back seat. My dad had to go diving into the backseat after it so I could shift to 3rd.

An ex-bf had a VW Golf that I loved. He would let me borrow it occasionally and I would zip around.

When I was young we inherited an OLD VW Rabbit from my great aunt. The best part was when the horn would randomly start blaring for no reason. People would stare. lol.

And my parents had a really old VW bug when I was little. My dad typically drove it but one time he and my mom had to switch cars. Well my mom is short and the driver's seat was rusted too far from the pedals for my mom to full depress the clutch. So what did she do? Stuck me!!! (who was no more than 1 or 2) behind her back and used me as a support so she could reach the pedals! 😳🤣😆 She says she remembers me making a little oof sound every time she had to push on me to fully push in the clutch. Ahhhhh. The '70s were an amazing time.
 

Maister

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My favorite was my 1978 Jeep CJ-5 Renegade

1614115396237.png


I also had a 1982 Mazda RX-7 that was kinda fun too.

1614115478265.png
 

terraplnr

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My blue 2001 Toyota MR-2 Spyder, so fun on windy roads! I sold it in 2007 when I was pregnant and couldn't justify keeping a two-seater convertible anymore.

Spyder1.jpg
Spyder2.jpg

(not my pics)

My current car (old Toyota Camry) is the only car I've had with an automatic transmission. My other two stick shifts were a 1987 Toyota Corolla and an 1992 Honda Accord.
 

Faust_Motel

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'88 Jeep XJ
'87 Golf
'94 Beretta
'89 Trooper

The Beretta was the last of the stick shifts in my family. My parents held on to a stick Honda CR-V for a few more years but didn't pass it on when they got a new one. My wife doesn't drive stick so all our cars for the last 15 years have been auto.

Of the above, the Golf was the most fun but the least reliable, the Trooper needed all the shifting finesse you had because it was powered by a gutless inline-4, the XJ was my first car so gets points for that, plus the shift knob fell off and I replaced it with a ski pole grip, which 18 year-old me thought was pretty awesome, and the Beretta just. would. not. die and instilled in my wife a lifelong hatred of two-door cars (park on a sideslope and you were trapped on the uphill side).
 

michaelskis

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I owned an 1988 Pontiac Sunbird GT. It was a fun vehicle and did surprisingly well in the the snow.

I came super close to buying a 1978 Jeep CJ7, but was talked out of it because of the amount of work it.

I learned to drive in a 1959 Jeep Willys Wagon that my grandfather had "modified". The body had rusted out and it was his camp vehicle, so he took the body off, put a wood floor and dashboard in it, and put a hood top (no sides). The thing was a tank and would go through anything.
 

Gedunker

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I've only owned two automatic transmission vehicles in my life, and thankfully, only briefly. (1985 Ford F-150 and VW Passat Wagon.)

I learned to drive a manual on a company vehicle - a 1960s Chevy van with three on the tree. My first manual to own was a '72 Beetle 4 speed. I taught a lot of people how to drive a stick with that car and, to VW's credit, the tranny was never a problem while I owned it.

My 1990 Mazda Miata was a really fun car to drive, but it was only a 5 speed. My 2017 Mazda 3 hatchback is a 6 speed and I do very much enjoy driving it. I'm getting ready to "gift" it to my son (he'll pay me a little, but it will be a sweet deal for him, especially since it has a little less than 16,000 original miles) and I'm going to buy a new Nissan Frontier with 6 speed tranny. That will be my last new vehicle, I believe.

My favorite, by far, manual to drive was a 1972 Kenworth cabover (K-100E) with a 13-speed Fuller RoadRanger. To have been a kid waving at the passing truckers, and then to be one of the truckers waving back was really, really fun. I would hop back into a cabover driver's seat in a heartbeat.
 

MacheteJames

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The Mazdaspeed3 sitting out front right now. 325 angry japanese horses attached to a six speed manual with a heavy clutch. Also makes a superb bicycle and kid transport. It's almost a decade old at this point, but I love rowing my own gears too much to give it up.

edit - also had a bitchin' 86 Camaro that I drove back in high school in the 90s. 5 speed manual V6, it was slow, but an old Camaro is like pizza, even when it's bad, it's good.
 
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DVD

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My favorite was the old '79 Jeep CJ7 with 3 on the floor.
1992 Suzuki Katana. Different shifting, but fun.
My current 2001 Mustang Bullitt is a fun drive, but just not the same.
I've also had odd things like a Chevy Cavalier (mom's car when I was a kid)
I drove some Italian Fiat van with 5 in the tree that was interesting.
Also an old duece and a half with granny low and double clutching. I had to remember to just not use 1st for anything.
 

Dan

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I only owned one car with a manual; a 1985 Volkswagen Jetta. I probably still have a picture of it buried somewhere. I had no idea how to drive a stick when I bought the thing, and I learned mainly by trial and error on the way home. It became second nature within a week.

Even though I was adept at a manual, I couldn't just hop into any car with a stick shift and go. There's a lot more variables with how shifting feels, and it takes my muscle memory some time to adjust. Shifter and clutch feel and engagement varies a lot between different cars, and even between different cars of the same model. For a car with an automatic transmission, except maybe a Tesla, I can just get in and go. Driving a Mercedes S-class with an automatic transmission isn't any different than driving my Subaru Legacy with a CVT. When I had my Jetta with a stick, driving my then-girlfriend's Ford Escort resulted in a lot of quick lurches and stalling.

Where I live now, I wouldn't own a car with a stick. Too much stop-and-start congestion in the city limits, and too many hills everywhere. My commute takes me 4 miles south, and about 500' downhill. Every so often, I think about getting a kei car for shits and giggles, and the idea of having one with a stick makes me shudder.
 

kjel

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Definitely wasn't cool but my ex and I owned a hatchback Geo Metro. That thing got 50 mpg and you could park it anywhere.
 

The Terminator

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Definitely wasn't cool but my ex and I owned a hatchback Geo Metro. That thing got 50 mpg and you could park it anywhere.
My aunt and uncle owned a 92 Geo Prizm, with the same 3 cylinder motor paired to a 4 speed manual. They got it on markdown because my aunts Brother worked for GM at the time. It lasted until 2001 or so, when they upgraded to a Pontiac Aztek. I seem to recall them driving it from Wilmington, DE to Cepe Cod and back on one tank of gas.
 

Doohickie

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Definitely wasn't cool but my ex and I owned a hatchback Geo Metro. That thing got 50 mpg and you could park it anywhere.
Besides the Dart I've owned two other stick shift cars: 1995 Ford Aspire (looked kinda like this)
41RoxYH8x9L.jpg


and my current car, a 2013 Fiat 500
13440496953_c440aa073e_k.jpg


Neither one is particularly cool but Iike(d) driving both. I'd rather drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, if that makes any sense.
 

The Terminator

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1972 Dart Swinger, 318 V8, three speed on the floor.
50978235397_0d8768558f_w.jpg
Brb, going back to the 80s to buy this off of you. If I would had offered you 2500$ in a parking lot in 1987 dollars, would you have sold it to me?

Did it have the following shift pattern?:

R 2

1 3

Almost all surviving Darts I've come across are column shifted, 3 on the tree or automatics. Not to mention, out of my price range. I want a 67-74 with a Slant 6 and 3 on the tree.

All surviving Darts are either fully restored beauties or rotting heaps of rust that have been sitting for decades, theres no in between anymore. The grandma cars have either been claimed or crushed. You could still find them cheap until the very early 00s.
 

Maister

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You could still find them cheap until the very early 00s.
We should be honest about something here. The 'cash for clunkers' programs may have marginally improved the fuel efficiency of cars on the road ~ 2010, but it helped create a bigger gap than one would normally expect to find in availability of what are now vintage cars from the 70's and 80's
 

MD Planner

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That's a great point. IIRC it was something like 700,000 cars that were taken off the roads. Now not all of them were going to still be here today but . . . And I'm not really sure in the scheme of things the juice was worth the squeeze for that program.
 

Tranplanner

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Coolest would be a 2006 Mini Cooper, but I have soft spot for my old 1996 Ford Escort - last year they were built basically as a Mazda 323 with a Ford body. I loved that car and kinda wish I had decided to keep putting money in it just a bit longer. Great in the snow even without winter tires.

Similar to some other cyburbians, my partner never took to driving a manual and as a one car household it was no longer practical for us so we switched to automatics about 8 years ago now. On our second Mazda 3, which are great cars but I really miss driving stick. The "semi-automatic" feature is not the same.

My brother had 1988 and 1995 Mustang GTs. I did not like driving those much, too much clunkiness for such power.

Funnest to drive would be the Bombardier (Volkswagen) Iltis. Got to take one for a spin a few times on base even though I didn't have a license at the time...
IMGP0154.jpg
 

Faust_Motel

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I forgot my Dad's '59 Bugeye. Ultimate proof of how much fun it is to "drive a slow car fast." No synchros, gotta really get a feel for it. Fun, fun. T
This isn't his actual car, but very close on the color (he has the black tonneau but burgundy interior)
1959-austin-healey-bugeye-015.jpg
 

Doohickie

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Brb, going back to the 80s to buy this off of you. If I would had offered you 2500$ in a parking lot in 1987 dollars, would you have sold it to me?

Did it have the following shift pattern?:

R 2

1 3

Almost all surviving Darts I've come across are column shifted, 3 on the tree or automatics. Not to mention, out of my price range. I want a 67-74 with a Slant 6 and 3 on the tree.

All surviving Darts are either fully restored beauties or rotting heaps of rust that have been sitting for decades, theres no in between anymore. The grandma cars have either been claimed or crushed. You could still find them cheap until the very early 00s.
Heheh.... I paid $600 for it in 1986, so yeah, I'd take $2500 :p

Yes, that was the shift pattern. I could reach out my pinkie finger and touch the glove box door when shifting to 2nd gear.... it had a LONG throw.

I bought the car when I lived in Los Angeles, from the second owner, who bought it for his son to drive while he was in college. With his son graduated and making real money he just wanted the car gone. He said this car, with a V8, floor shift, and virtually no other options, was called a "Club Coupe". The woman he bought it from special ordered it because she was an older lady, had always driven sticks, and was afraid she couldn't learn how to drive an automatic. That's right, she was a Little Old Lady from Pasadena, driving her V8 Dodge.

I loved the car but when I got laid off the first time I needed the cash so I sold it for.... $500. I had it for almost 5 years and sold it for only $100 less than I paid for it.
 

Old Planner

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1956 Chevy Bel Air red station wagon. That thing was a tank but got decent mileage. My ex put "glass pipes" on it so challenges from would be racers did occur. It was spacious and reliable. Once in a while, I would have to crawl under and whack the shifting forks. On one memorable occasion, I was riding in the cargo space along with the dog and cat on a long distance trip, when I heard my ex say "Sh--!" I looked up in time to see the large, original steering wheel detached, in his hand. He tossed it to one side and grabbed what little he could of the steering post. Fortunately, there was an exit right there. We came to a controlled stop at the bottom. Tore up his palm, but he hammered the wheel back on, we ate something, then continued on our way. It was frightening at the time, but seemed unreal, like a comedy.

I was not happy when he traded it for some piece of junk.
 

Maister

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This was mine mentioned earlier. Not my actual car but same color and year. I did have chrome rocker panel covers.

View attachment 50794
I had surprisingly little trouble (as in none) with my RX-7. The rotary engine design was great in that it ran smoother than any other engine I've encountered since. However, it got surprisingly bad gas mileage given its small size.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

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I had surprisingly little trouble (as in none) with my RX-7. The rotary engine design was great in that it ran smoother than any other engine I've encountered since. However, it got surprisingly bad gas mileage given its small size.
I picked up my 1983 GSL in 1992 with 85k and sold in 1996 with 115k. It did have an oil leak at the engine case seal locations. I would lose a quart between oil changes. Little else that could go wrong with the Wenkel rotary. I probably had mid 20s MPG. Loved the car but was awful in the snow.
 
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Maister

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I picked up my 1982 GSL in 1992 with 85k and sold in 1996 with 115k. It did have an oil leak at the engine case seal locations. I would lose a quart between oil changes. Little else that could go wrong with the Wenkel rotary. I probably had mid 20s MPG. Loved the car but was awful in the snow.
The car was so light. No surprises there.
 

RandomPlanner

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Ahhh, one of my favorite topics. I MUCH prefer a standard to an automatic any day!

Let's see -- 13/17 of my past daily drivers were standard transmissions.
Currently 3/4 vehicles in our driveway are stick shifts: 1988 Porsche 944 Celebration Edition; 1964 GMC 1-ton dually; and 1965 Chevy C-10. The most fun -- I really did love my VW Cabrio but I also love the '65! It's a toss up! (I'll look for a pic of the Cabrio later at home.)

IMG_20210123_134623.jpg
 

dw914er

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Ahhh, one of my favorite topics. I MUCH prefer a standard to an automatic any day!

Let's see -- 13/17 of my past daily drivers were standard transmissions.
Currently 3/4 vehicles in our driveway are stick shifts: 1988 Porsche 944 Celebration Edition; 1964 GMC 1-ton dually; and 1965 Chevy C-10. The most fun -- I really did love my VW Cabrio but I also love the '65! It's a toss up! (I'll look for a pic of the Cabrio later at home.)

You have great taste in cars!
 

RandomPlanner

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You have great taste in cars!
Thank you. I come by it honestly as my dad was a body man by trade and a mechanic by choice. Then I was blessed to find a husband who would argue he had even better taste in cars than I do and I started leaning to the German side a bit more. So our world is now a combination of German sportiness and good old American steel!
 

estromberg

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I have had 4 manuals.

1988 Ford Ranger
1993 Chevy Beretta GTZ
1994 Honda Accord
1998 Honda Accord

My current daily is 2011 Jetta Sportwagen TDI with the DSG. I really wanted the 6 speed manual, but I caved to my wife and got the DSG, which in retrospect, I shouldn't have, because she almost never drives my car. At least it isn't the typical automatic slushbox and does offer a tiptronic manual mode, but I miss having a clutch.

My next vehicle will be a manual. I much prefer driving them, my wife can drive a stick, but doesn't want to.
 

mendelman

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I like and want a Golf Sportwagen right now.

I love 'small' wagons. I fully enjoyed my 1992 Subaru Loyale and 1999 Ford Escort wagons.
 

mendelman

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Speaking of small wagons, I never had one but I always thought the Pontiac Vibe GT was a pretty cool car.
I'd call that more of a 4-door hatchback car, which is the evolutionary transition between sedan and wagon, but I'm not married to this opinion.
 

Maister

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Wasn't my car but when I was a kid in the mid 70's the high school aged kid that lived across the street had a Volkswagen 'Thing'.

1615232768929.png


I thought it was the coolest car at the time (except perhaps for the equally cool AMC Gremlins that were everywhere). His was painted gray and had a Maltese cross painted on the door so it looked like a ww2 German staff car.
 

estromberg

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Wasn't my car but when I was a kid in the mid 70's the high school aged kid that lived across the street had a Volkswagen 'Thing'.

View attachment 50845

I thought it was the coolest car at the time (except perhaps for the equally cool AMC Gremlins that were everywhere). His was painted gray and had a Maltese cross painted on the door so it looked like a ww2 German staff car.
I'd love to have a Thing.
 
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