Recently a colleague talked about going hiking in the White Mountains and absent-mindedly leaving his keys in his car at a pretty busy parking lot. When he came back down at the end of the day, the unlocked car was sitting there with the keys visible on the front seat, and he wondered if it was his manual transmission that turned thieves away.

I thought that was an interesting idea, and then I spotted the above item online, so apparently he’s not the only person with that thought.

Manual transmission are dying off: Fewer than 10 percent of vehicles made in North America now have them as an option, and the fact that rental cars are always automatics shows how much demand there is for four-or-more-on-the-floor. I suspect my 20-something kids are about the last generation in which many people learned how to drive a stick shift.

I like using a stick shift except in heavy traffic, when it’s an incredible pain, but you have to admit that the technology is kind of stupid. Modern automatic transmission get just as good gas mileage, which ends an argument for manuals that dates to my youth, and continuously variable transmissions eliminate their herky-jerky nature. A manual transmission ,which takes up valuable space inside the car, is getting to be kind of silly.

One advantage for those of us who drive them, aside from theft deterrence, is that manual-transmission used cars are cheaper because an increasing number of people don’t want them.


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