Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hands-on driving

I’ve been driving a BMW for more than a dozen years. That’s not to brag; it’s the same car. I got in two jobs and a career change ago.

Still, I’ve put less than 85,000 miles on it, mostly because my commute has shrunk from across state lines to down the hall.

It’s the classic story of a gently used car owned by a little old lady who only drives it around town.

Now it’s time to part ways, as I take ownership of a 2011 VW GTI on Friday. The old Bimmer has a lot of life left in her, so I uploaded a page to the Web to tout her qualities. Now I'm responding to inquiries.

The only sticking point so far has been the stick. Yes, it’s a manual transmission. A stick shift. Four on the floor.  (Actually, it’s a five speed.)

And that’s an issue.

So not only am I selling a car, I’m coaching people about learning to drive stick. Imagine that. Where are all the hard-core driving enthusiasts? The feel-of-the-road guys? The performance drivers? How have so many been lulled into automatics?

Used or not, my car remains one of the “ultimate driving machines,” according to BMW branding. It's a stick; my previous car was a stick; and my new car is...a stick.

Hard to believe so many people are missing out on the fun of real hands-on driving.


  1. I had the pleasure of renting a manual shift car on my last work trip to Europe. It was the first time I had driven a stick (a Citroën , no less...ZUT ALORS!) since the '90s. It's like riding a bike...you never forget how (although passengers may think otherwise). But you're absolutely right...it's become a lost art and a lost pleasure for those who have never experienced the feel of the road this way. I still maintain that manual's the way to go in snowy climes and I've been known to slip my VW into tiptronic mode from time to time...it's not quite the same, but it's almost fahrvergnugung. Good luck selling the BMW...at least because it's a stick, you know it will go to a good home.

  2. I will never buy a car without a manual transmission again. I like to drive my car, not have my car drive me.