Let’s face it, the manual transmission is on life support as only a handful of automakers offer such in their new vehicle lineup. The take rate for manual transmissions is at an all-time low, and unfortunately, manufacturers have devoted their R&D into other automatic transmission types, such as the traditional automatic transmission, CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions), and automated dual-clutch units. However, there are still a select number of manufacturers that still offer a manual transmission, the most notable ones being Porsche, BMW, Subaru, and even Toyota who are still churning out a few manual transmissions to keep the enthusiasm alive among purists. Additionally, manual transmissions are still a very relevant thing among a multitude of pre-own vehicles and classics.
Hagerty has taken it upon themselves to continue a 10-year-running program to train thousands of students how to drive a manual transmission. Through the initiative, the Hagerty Driving Experience and Hagerty Driving Academy has spearheaded over 40 events through the country to teach safe, proficient driving skills along with the art of shifting a manual transmission.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to join in on the festivities at a local Jacksonville, FL Hagerty Driving Experience that took place at the remarkable Brumos Museum facility (The Brumos Collection) to teach upwards of 40 teens how to drive a manual transmission. During the experience, I was able to witness first-hand how an art that I’ve taken for granted at times has reinspired the desire for teens to jump behind the wheel and learn to really “drive” over summoning an Uber ride on their cell phone. Their faces lit up with glistening eyes as each teen jumped behind the wheel of a vehicle brought by the many volunteers who gave their time and lend their vehicle to teach an invaluable skill to our next generation. Bill Warner, the founder of The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, even brought his Camaro race car for a slightly different teaching experience on how to drive a manual transmission.
I commend Hagerty and the many Hagerty Driving Experience leads on running such a unique and important program for an art that doesn’t have to get lost with the decline of manual transmission interests. There’s still something to be said about rowing your own gears. Not to mention, it may help keep teens and others off their cell phones when they drive, something that’s become an unfortunate epidemic leading to the dire consequences of distracted driving.
If you are interested in the Hagerty Driving Experience in your area, we ask that you visit the Hagerty Drivers Club website link.