They see me rollin’

So recently I had an incident with a Deer in my car. Long story short the car got totaled, and I just got a replacement. This replacement car happened to be ANOTHER Mazda 3 (ok so apparently I love Mazda’s). This one has the updated skyactiv engine that gets infinity gas mileage and a few small cosmetic updates but is almost the exact same car, except it’s a manual.

After getting the car I told my parents I got a manual and my Dad’s response was “Chris, why the heck did you get a manual?” I brushed the question off at the time but really started thinking about it after a while. I even googled “Advantages of owning a Manual” and got a few results that are not really all that true:

1 – Better gas milage…this USED to be true but now auto’s are mostly better than Manuals
2 – Cheaper….ok true
3 – Women find it sexier…only partially confirmed, need more investigation
4 – You can do sweet car maneuvers….only applies to rear wheel drive cars

There’s also always some vaguely “it’s manly” reason for driving a manual. At first I sort of piled that on with the “Women find it Sexy” BS pile but after driving a bit I had some clarity. Now, I never had a manual car before, I knew how to do it and had driven one successfully a handful of times(plus I ride motor bikes) but it had never been my main whip. As I quickly found out there’s a big difference between knowing how to drive a manual, and being able to drive one: you forget you’re in a manual.

That is I was fine driving around and what not, I knew all the maneuvers and techniques until I got into a difficult situation: like making a U-turn in downtown Charleston on some ancient narrow street. I’d be pre-occupied with whatever and just clutch out too quick and stall out…then get taunted by drunk people walking on the street.

That’s when it kind-a sort-a clicked why a manual car = man (it has nothing to do with being man…just maturing). In order to learn, you just have to drive it a bunch until the whole process becomes second nature. It doesn’t get cemented in your head by the 20 times you start from a stop or incline right, it’s from the one embarrassing time you get it wrong. It’s demoralizing and embarrassing, but you cant sit around a wallow about how much of a dumbass you are for buying a manual car, there are cars behind you, you just have to get over it, restart the car, and try again.

Now that I’ve gotten past that initial painful learning curve I can honestly say I enjoy it. I’m still slow off line and a little herky jerky, but it’s now only mildly annoying to ride along with me. It really takes more focus, driving isn’t just something I have to do while I surf facebook, it’s something I look forward to. In the same vain that hipsters love their fixed gear bicycles, that cafe racer guys put up with their bike braking down once a month, the enjoyment is in doing the thing, not the destination.




  1. manuals still do get better mileage if you are good at driving them efficiently, plus an automatic transmission increases the weight of the car quite a bit. Plus they are more fun, you made a good purchase.

  2. Always loved driving a stick. I learned to drive with one and the only time I might wish for an automatic is in a bad traffic jam. Other than that, give me a stick!

  3. Manual tranny is much more reliable and easier to fix if something does go wrong. Also, you can definitely improve your gas mileage, and you feel one with the car, instead of a passenger.


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