Manual Transmission / Five Speed

Audi A5 Coupe 6-Speed Manual Transmission

All of the people I meet overseas are shocked when I answer their “I bet you had a hard time learning to shift gears” with a “No, I’ve never owned a car for me that didn’t have a manual transmission.” ¬†Yep, you read that right…every car that I have had for me has had a manual transmission:

  • 1988 Jeep Cherokee Chief — 5 speed
    2000 Mazda Protoge — yep, it was a 5 speed too

The next one I buy for me, I expect will be the same thing.

But, I’m curious about a few things:

  • How did automatics become so popular in the US?
  • Why are automatics not so popular overseas?
  • Do you think it is an essential skill to learn to drive an stick shift?

Anyone want to chime in?

image from maria palma via flickr

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