We are becoming very used to things being done for us these days. If you want a pizza a man will bring it to your door. If you want a coffee a machine will make it for you. And if you want want a specific type of shoe only made in the southern tip of Tibet, you need not lift a finger as the Royal Mail will get it to you… Eventually! Many of these services we take for granted and some people will have even forgotten what it was like to walk to their supermarket for a loaf of bread. Once upon a time when you wanted to make a car move you used three pedals and stick to control a series of cogs, but now a push of a button will get the laborious task of changing gear done for you. Is the manual gearbox a relic of a more independent society?
In America almost 90% of new cars purchased are automatic seemingly making my previous question redundant. However, in Europe manual transmission sales are still strong making for an interesting argument. As more manufactures bring in flappy-paddle automatics, will the gearstick have a place in the car in 5 years time? My opinion is quite firm on this matter as when given the choice I 100%, without question or shadow of doubt, take a manual over any form of automatic. I have driven many automatic cars in the past, some really very good, but you never quite enjoy the experience of actually driving as much.
In a manual car you are very much the organic part of the machine. You are required to get involved and in many cars that is not so much an arduous task, but a pleasure. Slamming through the gears on a B-road blast is massively satisfying bringing forth entertainment over every crest, round every corner and down every open stretch. In a full automatic you are simply a passenger slowly becoming annoyed by the computer that continues to fail at second guessing what gear is required for the next sharp corner. The on-board computer works using logic, x-speed requires x-gear. In a manual you know that if you drop from 4th to 2nd for this bend you will come out the other side on the power and with a huge smile on your face.
I know that the computer can swap cogs faster than what is physically possible for a human being to do but for sheer driving pleasure it makes no odds. Ok, for motorways and long hauls an automatic is great but when the time comes to open the tap there will always be a lack of connection between car and driver.
Will the manual car become extinct? Not as long as there are people who value driving for more than just getting from a to b.