1. Because I can. Driving standard is a skill that I have, so I’m going to use it. Automatic cars are for people who can’t drive standard. And while I’m on the subject, I’m of the opinion that everyone should know how to drive standard.
2. Because it’s fun. If you drive a stick shift, you’ll agree. If you don’t, you don’t know what you’re missing. Sure, I drive a Hyundai wagon, but I can still put it through its gears on a back-road straightaway. Can you do that in your automatic Mazda 6?
3. Because it’s cheaper. A manual transmission is cheaper right off the lot, by around a thousand dollars. It’s also (potentially) a lot cheaper on gas, but that depends on how you drive it. Maintaining a standard car can also be cheaper, as long as you’re gentle on the clutch – manual transmissions need servicing less often, and they’re cheaper to repair when it does come time for service.
4. Because it makes me a better driver. Driving a standard requires much more involvement with the car that driving an automatic. Both hands and both feet are occupied much of the time, requiring me to devote more of my attention to the physical act of driving. I am much more aware of the engine, its feel and its sounds. I have a better understanding of how the car works, and I have more control over what it does, allowing me to react better to unexpected situations than an automatic driver might. Take the recent sticking-accelerator-pedal crisis, for example. When stories of these incidents first started making news, my initial (and continuing) reaction was, “Why didn’t they just throw the car in neutral?” In moments of panic, I know, it can be hard to think clearly, but I think most standard drivers would not have to think about how to disengage the engine from the throttle – it would be automatic, so to speak.
5. Because guys think it’s hot. The automotive world is undeniably male-dominated – there aren’t many female gearheads out there. Now to be honest, I’m perfectly happy to let my husband do the dirty work, but I’m not intimidated by an engine. And men never fail to express their appreciation when they learn that I drive stick.