#192, Want to drive a stick shift? Hagerty has a ‘manual’

James Raia

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.

Hagerty started a program in July to encourage more drivers to learn how to drive a manual transmission vehicle.
Hagerty started a program in July to encourage more drivers to learn how to drive manual transmission vehicles.

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.

Many vintage cars were equpped with manual transmissions but far fewer new cars and trucks have stick shifts.
Many vintage cars were equipped new with manual transmissions but far fewer new cars and trucks have stick shifts.

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.

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Article Last Updated: August 4, 2021.

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