Manual gearshift - a species that is becoming extinct

With the switch to e-mobility, it's not just the type of drive that changes. Manual switching will be a thing of the past, it is ready to move into the museum. It has been in retreat for a long time. Modern assistance systems get along better with automatic transmissions. The self-intervening person is a disruptive factor that one prefers to keep outside.

Lots of plastic in the switching paths in the 9-3 II
Lots of plastic in the switching paths in the 9-3 II

There have been regular discussions about how to switch for a long time. The group of sports drivers defended the manual gear change with all strength, even if it has become more and more difficult to find arguments in recent years. Automatic machines have long switched better and faster than humans. To make matters worse, they are even more stingy with fuel.

You don't need a manual gearbox in an electric car. Torque and speed reach what feels like infinity. A gearbox with one or two gears is standard. If there are actually two, the switching process is of course fully automatic. Nobody will cry after the manual gearshift, at least not in the electric car.

Consequences for future generations

How long will driving schools continue to train with manual transmissions? The end is foreseeable, it could come by 2030 at the latest. Then new combustion engines could also be banned in Germany, in other countries they are already. The flood of assistance systems also blows out the lights on the manual gearshift.

At some point there will be a generation of drivers on the road who do not know how to use manual gearshifts and who are also not allowed to drive it. A development with fatal consequences for oldtimers and classics.

Not funny, the circuit in the Saab 99
Not funny, the circuit in the Saab 99

What will become of the sports cars of the past? Where are the old Porsche 911s that were mainly shifted manually because the 4-speed automatic was frowned upon in the relevant circles? What effects does it have on the British roadsters, those with the bone-hard, precise gearshifts. These classics with a heart that always brought joy?

Manual shift - there was something

Perhaps they will not be for sale even if they could be climate-neutral with an alternative fuel. Because from a certain point no young person can drive it anymore, the legislature demands additional training, or the extinction could benevolently let it happen.

1986 - no joy with the 900 gearbox either
1986 - no joy with the 900 gearbox either

The fact is that people lose more and more skills that they once had. Assistance and navigation systems make orientation skills, acquired over thousands of years, superfluous. The feeling for driving physics, which was extremely important 20 or 30 years ago, is no longer needed. Since the introduction of ESP, the computer has been regulating everything. At least until physics does win the upper hand. And, to the amazement of the driver, the vehicle ends up in the ditch.

At Saab, the manual shift story was never the big hit. The Swedes have always been a long way from the qualities that BMW, Alfa Romeo and Porsche once delivered. The gearboxes in Saab 99 and 900 were always terrible to shift. Imprecise, unmotivated, the powerful turbo engines alone made up for it.

Sufficiently precise manual gearshift in the Saab 9-3 I.
Sufficiently precise manual gearshift in the Saab 9-3 I.

The final vengeance from Detroit

The gearboxes were only really good to shift in the Saab 9000, at least acceptable, with a slight fun tendency, in the 9-3 I, 900 II and 9-5 I. The 9-3 II simply had too much plastic built into the shift linkage for that It could have been fun. And finally, with the Saab 9-5 NG, the circle was closed again. The manual transmission was GM's last revenge, and it is not for nothing that buyers prefer the automatic transmission, which is also noticeable in the prices of used copies.

Do vehicles with manual transmissions end up in museums, or do they have a long-term chance of being moved as veterans? It is up to the legislature whether or not they will give automotive cultural assets a chance. After all, this has offered the option of one since April 1 (!) 2021 Additional training

10 hours of 45 minutes more in practice on a switching vehicle - combined with a 15-minute additional test is sufficient, even if you have completed your driver training on an automatic vehicle. The key number 78 of the class B driver's license then becomes the number 178 and you are authorized to drive a manually shifted vehicle. Owners of an automatic driver's license can also get additional training and change their driver's license.

Will that be enough to save the manual gearshift from extinction? Probably not.

11 thoughts on "Manual gearshift - a species that is becoming extinct"

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    3 out of 5 family-owned vehicles are automatic machines, which is nice, but switching is also fun. The T3 bus in particular is a journey through time when everything has to be done by hand again (right down to the window regulator) because I let my son practice on it for the driving school, so the 9000 is relaxing for him.

    I've also had my experience with the ESP. In the 9-5NG you don't notice anything, the 9-7x is either slower or the ESP deliberately intervenes later. The car wobbles before you notice that the electronics intervene. Personally, I think that's very good because it gives you another feedback and then becomes aware of your driving error.

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      Your son learned a lot there ...

      I'm so happy myself to have learned in an assistant-free car and motorcycle. And I like to refresh it again and again today. Take my old-timer or switch off ESP in the 9-5 (upper floor) to get an impression of the road conditions.
      Otherwise it only stamps briefly when starting up and then accelerates more slowly. Even in 3rd gear, my oldtimer delivers spinning tires on asphalt - for example, when dust and rain form a film of lubricant. You take the next bend with due caution. I like this lane information, which you can collect so completely safely on a straight stretch when accelerating. You can even do that on a motorcycle. They also have more and more assistants today. It remains to be seen whether you can still correctly assess the road and bends after you have approached them quickly with anti-slip assistance ...

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    Yes tom
    and how many more hours for a vehicle with a steering wheel or cane gear?
    Send 96 greetings

    • blank

      Krückstock shift in the 2CV, simply brilliant! Once you had it in your "hand" there was nothing easier.

  • blank

    What kind of train of thought does Tom offer us! Really great! Soon nobody will be able to drive the switch cars anymore !?
    I often move into the classic car scene and there you have noticed for a long time that the prices of heavy and expensive pre-war vehicles are stagnating or even declining. One reason is that almost nobody can operate such vehicles any more. Who is still familiar with manual ignition timing? Or with a counter gear, partly shifted externally?

    I've been driving a Lancia Appia from 1960 for some time. It's a huge difference only to the 1972 Fulvia, let alone the 1999 and 2004 Saab.
    You just have to drive with foresight, because the brakes and chassis are just as they were then, namely a little more difficult to control than they are today! But it's still fun! But does anyone still think that's great in 2030 or 35? I do not think so.
    It is just the way it is: all things must pass ......

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    The only well switchable Saab in my garage is the Og 9/5 aero bj 2000. The viggen goes like this
    I am currently in Greece and drive a dirty Kia rental car. 6-speed gearbox, gear stick can be operated with one finger, incredibly precise and gears slide into the alley almost by themselves
    On the other hand, my Saab Stoneage are.

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    In tune with the times

    I love the way Tom sets his themes. It doesn't really hit the rearview mirror if the author likes to think ahead.

    I happened to have similar thoughts lately, all still tender plants in the midst of weeds. And ZACK is an article that puts everything in order, thought out and formulated. This is great cinema.

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    I just made a conscious investment in a switch. The automatic of the first XC 90 series often causes trouble. In addition, a repair or overhaul is not exactly cheap.
    This purchase actually brings together two up-and-coming components: manual transmission and diesel.

  • blank

    Ten hours of 45 minute training for the manual gearshift. I am impressed and would like to see what they are doing.

    Exactly 25 years ago I got my driving license in Flensburg. In addition to the right-hand drive requirement (often forgotten by the countless drivers in the middle) and the non-traffic-hindering use of the deceleration lane on motorways, manual switching was of course also part of the lesson; casual. Shift pattern, hear and feel when the next gear should be engaged (up and down) and the use of the gears on the speed lane of the autobahn. "Step on the accelerator and you won't shift into fourth until the speedometer needle shows 90!"

    I would like to sit in the back for this training session. Maybe I'll learn something more.

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      The country is over-regulated, no question about it. There was a time when, with a lot of luck, you could get a full driver's license in 10 hours.

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        And then a little earlier I took the driving test without driving lessons from the driving instructor!
        My father had the nerve and the experience to make me ready for the exam.
        This is what happened in Switzerland in 1972. The examiner let me drive for almost 2 hours and then said at the end; you can, I have to give you the ID.
        Tempi passati.

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