Learning how to operate a manual transmission car or truck was a rite of automotive passage for drivers of a certain age. It’s now a rarity, with a few exceptions including a campaign introduced by Hagerty.
The American automotive lifestyle and membership company, Hagerty in July announced, as part of its 10th anniversary of the Hagerty Driving Experience, a mission. Its goal: to teach 500 people to drive a stick shift in 50 days.
Rachel Ventimiglia, Assistant Manager of Car Culture at Hagerty, is my guest on Episode #192 of The Weekly Driver Podcast.
Co-host Bruce Aldrich is on assignment, so I discuss with Ventimiglia the ever-increasing disappearance of manual transmissions and the importance of Hagerty’s mission.
Consider some drastic statistics:
• The first car to use a manual transmission with synchromesh (single clutching) was the 1929 Cadillac;
• The first automobile model to use an automatic transmission was the 1948 Oldsmobile;
• In 1980 models, 35 percent of cars produced for sale in the United States had manual transmissions;.
• In 2011, the number had fallen 13 percent;
• In 2020, only 2.4 percent of new cars sold in the United States had manual transmissions.
Want to drive a manual? Hagerty can help
• In a recent report published by U.S. News & World Report, only 18 of current U.S. drivers can drive a vehicle equipped with a stick shift.
To reach the 500-person goal, Hagerty is calling on manual drivers to connect with an untaught friend or family member and spend an hour in a parking lot or quiet road to teach the basics.
Drivers are asked to share their experience on the Hagerty Community website, after which they will receive two “Shift Happens” hats for their participation.
“Being able to drive a manual transmission is exhilarating and empowering, and we want to offer people the chance to get behind the wheel of a cool car and experience the fun and passion that enthusiasts know so well,” said Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty. “Teaching others how to drive stick is at the heart of car culture, and we hope to pass down this skill to the next generation of car lovers.”
Since 2011, Hagerty and its volunteers have trained more than 4,000 people how to drive a manual transmission through initiatives such as the Hagerty Driving Experience and Hagerty Driving Academy, a series of more than 40 events nationwide that teach safe, proficient driving skills and the art of shifting a manual. For more information, call (800) 922-4050 or visit www.hagerty.com.
Join me for my discussion with Ventimiglia. She provides a few unusual stories of drivers who’ve learned to operate a stick shift for the first time. We also discuss some of our personal experiences learning how to drive a manual transmission.
The Weekly Driver Podcast encourages and appreciates feedback from our listeners. Please forward episode links to family, friends and colleagues. And you are welcome to repost links from the podcast to your social media accounts. The idea of more eyeballs on more content works for us.
Support our podcast by shopping on Amazon.com. A graphic display at the bottom of the post links to automotive selections of the online retailer. But there’s also a search function for anything available directly from the site.
If you shop via this site, we receive a small commission. It helps us continue to produce independent content. The site began in 2004 and includes more than 700 reviews.
The podcast is in its third year, and we’ve had a diverse collection of guests — famous athletes, vintage car collectors, manufacturer CEOs, automotive book authors, industry analysts, a movie stuntman and episodes from auto shows and car auctions.
Every episode is also available on your preferred podcast platform. Several of the more prominent platforms are listed below.
Article Last Updated: August 4, 2021.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.