manual transmissions, down shifting and the open road

April 30, 2004 — Leave a comment

i like driving. i particularly like driving manual cars. not that i don`t love the joys of cruise control and not having to balance the clutch sometimes, but i`d rather give those up that a manual gear shift.

i think my love for driving came from my mother. she had an original 1000 mini, manual shift and drove it like a racing driver. down shifting, drafting busses, all the tricks i know now, i learned sitting next to my mother in the mini.

one of the things we used to do and i still do now is adventure driving. the concept worked well in trinidad, because it`s only so big and the principle was the road had to come out somewhere. on a larger scale it helps me find alternate routes and couple with an unfailing sense of direction i`ve found it very useful when i move somewhere new.

how it`s done, basically, is you pick a street and follow your instinct that it will take you where it needs too. it`s sort of like dirk gently`s theory about following a car as stated here.

“… A  few turnings later and I was thoroughly lost. There is a school of thought which says that you should consult a map on these occasions,  but  to  such people I merely say, `Ha! What if you have no map to consult? What if you have a map but it`s of the Dordogne?`  My own strategy is to find a car, or the nearest equivalent, which looks as if it knows where it`s going and follow it.  I rarely  end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be. So  what  do  you say to that?”

from douglas adams` long dark tea time of the soul

well, it works for me. but i`m the person my closest friends have intimated that has sold my soul for parking spaces and a sense of direction. i get parking spaces close to, if not directly in front of where i want to be and i don`t get lost. so adventure driving or picking a road and following it to see where it will take you in proximity to where you wanted to be in the first place works for me.

damn i`ve lost my initial train of thought.

some time later

i remember, i remember.

a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter. i remember.

well that too, but i remembered my train of thought and original point of my post.

i`ve never been a huge fan of american iron. i like sports cars, i would be thrilled to drive them at least once but i don`t actually want to own one, particularly an american made sports car. that`s right, no corvettes, no camaros, no mustangs. and there is good reason, the transmission. most american cars come with automatic transmission and even if it comes with manual transmission the gear ratio, stinks.

i was completely appalled to park next to an audi tt and peep in the window to see an automatic transmission. that`s just wrong. i think there should be a law, you want to drive a sports car, you should know how to handle a clutch.

i am a big guy, the two seater sports coupe doesn`t do anything for me, primarily cause i can`t fit in them. when i was younger, thinner, much more flexible and thinking about buying my first car, i tried out a madza miata and i thought i was going to hurt myself clambering in and out of that thing. my mid-life crisis cars would either be the subura impreza wrx — rally tuned suspension and six speed gear box or a bmw m5.

give me a sedan or wagon, with a good transmission and some good broad, low profile tires i`m heaven. i like the neon it`s small but it responds well, it has nice pickup; if the ac isn`t running and it doesn`t suck gas. if i had to change one thing on it, it would the tires, the narrow, 13″ tires just irk me, those should be outlawed too.

time to get on the road again.

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