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Micah Wright

We’ve always said that we’ve lost touch with the clutch, but I never thought in a million years that it would be guys who’d be giving up on them at such an alarming rate. Whatever happened to rowing your own gears through the streets, Fast & Furious style, with gratuitous tire squeal emanating from underneath your 1998 Toyota Corolla?

But alas, the days when people even knew what a “bite point” was are pretty much long gone, as a recent report by Swapalease.com has illuminated a few new trends in the rapidly diminishing world of manual gearboxes.

The Cincinnati-based firm is currently the nation’s largest car lease marketplace, and having unlimited access to documents on what is being leased and by whom sure does have its advantages. In order to discover how these “shifts” occur, the company painstakingly analyzed its entire leasing database, which houses over 50,000 driver records dating all the way back to 2012.

What was uncovered was that even though fewer people are opting for manual transmissions than ever before (surely due to the increased popularity of automatic dual-clutches and paddle shifters), women will more than likely be the next target market for sports car manufacturers.

“Manual drift” is a phrase that was first coined by Swapalease.com executives in order to summarize the slow death of the manual transmission. It’s a tough pill to swallow, we know, but it’s one that has long been in the automotive world’s prescription plan, and the side effects are already being felt. Recent analysis conducted by Swapalease.com shows that the number of manual transmission cars driven by Americans has dropped roughly 22% since 2012 alone, with even more of a decline predicted for the upcoming decade.

While this is surely disconcerting for fans of traditional performance driving or those who like all things nostalgic, it is the different rates of “drift” between men and women that have our interest.

The percentage of men shifting manual gearboxes in comparison to women has dropped from 85.4% in 2012, to 81.2% in 2015. This means that the percentage of women driving manuals jumps from 14.6% in 2012, to 18.8% in 2015. So even though both genders as a whole are driving fewer manual transmission equipped cars, because such a large number of men are choosing to dump the clutch entirely, it has caused the percentage of women driving stick to spike.

Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com sums it up: “It’s not surprising to see the sunset of manual transmission vehicles, particularly when you consider all the conversation around autonomous driving. It’s difficult to explain why men are drifting away from manual faster than women, but perhaps fathers [who are] teaching their daughters to drive [will] still see a premium in teaching both driving methods today.”
 

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I would have been very unlikely to have gone for an auto, let alone choose it by preference.

Due to an accident Bluebadger needed to drive an auto. Trying to get suitable auto hire cars when hers was being serviced etc proved a nightmare. Hence my turning to auto and getting cars suitable for BB to drive.

That eventually led to us both having SLKS and neither of us would now choose a manual over an auto in cars.

Still have bikes for playing with the gears.
 

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The market share that can drive manual and that wants to drive manual in North America makes it extremely hard to sell manual cars no matter the make or model. The car collector of the future is only going to want automatic cars leaving some beauties out there that are going to be very cheap. Careful how you invest if your game is to make money eventually.
 

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I'll be honest - I miss shifting gears. "Gretchen" is the first automatic I've had for a personal car in 50 years of driving. While my better half is much more comfortable driving the SLK, my left leg frequently grows restless for something to do. The paddles are just no substitute to manually "rowing the ol' gearbox". :frown:
 

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Manual transmissions should be mandatory. Because first there would be no traffic. Second, we could sell the spare convertible for a lot. And third, just try to text and shift, you smartphone-bonded wackos.
 

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I learned how to drive on a 5 speed 1981 Toyota Corolla. From there went to a 6 speed 1995 Z28, and then it's been all autos since. I drove manuals because 1. that's what I could afford and 2. I could do it. I bought a BMW 335d and it had a rather disappointing tranny. The 7 speed in the 55 is really pretty awesome. I find it picks the perfect gear through the corners in sport mode, right in the fat part of the powerband where I can wag the tail if I want. Couldn't do it any better myself.
 
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