The Return of the Manual!

Manual gearshift

When I cancelled a dentist appointment to take a 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S through its paces, I figured I made the right choice. I think most people would choose a morning with a 911 over having teeth drilled.

Yesterday, though, karma caught up with me in the form of a rescheduled dentist appointment. And drilled teeth. And numbing that didn’t take the first time. I left the dentist’s office with a swollen face, numb lips and the promise of more pain once the drugs wore off. There was only one thing that could make me feel better:

Heel-toeing through the twisties of one my favorite roads. Manual transmissions may be going the way of the dodo, as evidenced by that 911 and its high-tech PDK, but at least I still have my 5-speed.

As it turns out, though, there is hope that manuals may be in the midst of a resurgence in popularity.

According to USA Today, manuals accounted for 6.5 percent of new vehicle sales during the first quarter this year.

The article says the uptick is partly due to people who currently drive stick-shifts entering the market again and trading in their used cars.

2012 Ford FocusThis surge in popularity comes even with a 10 percent drop in the percentage of new models offering stick shifts in the past five years. The sudden popularity has even surprised automakers. Ford told the newspaper that demand for the manual Focus is about 10 percent, more than doubling the original forecast of 4 to 4.5 percent.

This is great news for both new and used car buyers. The last time the manual take rate was so high was in 2006, which means plenty of late-model manual transmission cars are hitting the market. Check out the CarGurus used listings if finding one is of interest to you.

You never know when you’ll need to work off some frustrations from the dentist.

Will your next car have a manual or automatic transmission?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Porsche 911
Used Ford Focus


  1. Me too. Every HP driver training instructor I ever had tried to teach me but my huge bozo feet just can’t do it.

  2. I’m just impressed you can heel-toe! I’ve never been able to master that. Even without the technique, it’s still more fun to tool around in a manual.

  3. Some interesting data but not surprising. I think most of what’s driving manual transmission sales are young people who can’t afford the extra 1500-2500 for an automatic version of the car they want and/or enthusiasts who prefer a manual. I certainly have nothing against manuals although I certainly wouldn’t want to be stuck in a stop and go commute every day with a clutch. That can get real tiresome. Many of the modern multi-clutch automatic transmissions have the fuel economy and power transfer of a manual with the shifting speed and precision of an automatic, but at a higher price, so manuals remain a good option when cost is important.

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