One of the casualties of our modern world is manliness.


These days guys have fallen victim to things like facials, skin softeners and a sad but urgent need to put highlights in their hair.


Even natural born elements of manhood like facial and chest hair have been ridiculed as the mark of an outdated and primitive hairy beast.

Essentially it is the sissy-fication of an entire gender because men were always supposed to wear their masculinity like a badge of honor. It’s literally in our hunter-gatherer genes and we do ourselves a huge disservice to ignore our genetic racer’s edge from our pre-historic fight for survival.


One of the last bastions of masculinity left is the old car world. The car culture is also a great place to sort out the men from the boys when it comes to transmission choices. A lot of the old iron came out of the factory with manual transmissions- the kind with actual clutches that added an extra pedal to the collection on the floor.



These days we have cars that will shift like a manual, but they do not require the concurrent use of a clutch in the mix. Consequently many drivers can use these training wheel style manual transmissions and pretend that they are really in the game.


The truth? No clutch on the floor equals no legitimate manual transmission glory gentlemen. You are currently driving a chick-shifter and rumors of its manual designation are wild fabrications of the truth.



There was a character  I met in the 80s who bought a 70s era Corvette with an automatic transmission. It was a conscious choice made by a guy that had never learned how to drive a standard transmission.



Somehow this self-aggrandising tough guy from the alleged rough part of his city never learned how to use a clutch. Incidentally, his fighting skills usually involved placing larger and angrier buddies in front of him, so I guess the manual transmission saga was just a part of a larger character deficiency for this clown.


Plus he drove his car like a little old lady. It was a little like using Secretariat for rental trail rides-even with the contemptible automatic in his car.



Old school manual transmissions have been buried by new school paddle shifters and other ways to camouflage the masculine inadequacies of people like Mr. Automatic. But he has to live with the knowledge that a now over-50 male cannot drive stick…



And that is one skeleton that should have stayed locked in a closet- deep in the back.


Jim Sutherland


More stories about old school iron and real car guys at



BOB:”I’ve owned between 55 and 60 cars in my life, all but 4 of them have had a standard transmission. Unfortunately my 68 Oldsmobile 442 is a TH 400. I’ve had both my knees replaced as a result of a major train wreck I was in back in 84. I thought my knees couldn’t handle a 4 speed trans when I bought this car. I’m kicking myself now because I’ve determined I would have been alright with the 4 speed. Oh well!”

ROBERT:”Great article about standards. I am old enough to remember learning to drive on a standard. Yopu will be happy to know that I run a 454 BB and a six speed standard in my three window deuce. You just can’t have a street machine with an automatic if you want to be true to the culture”.

DENNIS:”My Model T Ford doesn’t have a “stick”, but it’s not an ‘automatic’. A ‘stick’ driver would never even get out of the parking lot. The pedal you think is the gas is actually the brakes. The pedal you think is the brakes is reverse. That pedal on the left isn’t the clutch, that’s low and high gear. Where’s the clutch, you ask? It doesn’t really have one. There’s just ‘a place’ between low and high gear and you ‘find it’ with the emergency brake lever. The ‘gas’ is on the right side of the steering column where the stick shift lever would later be. The ‘turn signal’ lever on later cars, is the spark advance on a “T”, the air/fuel mixture is part of the choke lever sticking out of the dash, in front of the passenger. Try messing with that all at once with a cell phone against your ear”.