Mastering the Manual Transmission: A Dying Talent

How to drive a stick shift
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If there’s one thing a good prep loves, it’s driving cars-nice ones, to be exact. Whether it be Dad's old BMW or your new Jeep Wrangler, there probably will come a time when you encounter a car that is manual-and wish you knew how to drive it. Sadly, navigating the stick shift is a skill that is learned less and less, due to the movement toward automatic cars. However, a true car aficionado knows that there are few things in life as invigorating as feeling the change as you power your car up to the next gear. The art of manually shifting gears is something that every young prep should know, and can brag about for years to come.

How to Drive Stick Shift

1. Make sure you start on a level surface, with minimal people around (mostly to avoid the embarrassment of stalling out).

2. Have one foot (hopefully clad in a Sperry or Jack Roger) on the pedal furthest to the left (the clutch). The other one should be on the middle pedal (the break).

3. While pressing both pedals all the way in, insert the key, loaded with Smathers & Branson key fobs, and turn it.

4. Make sure your music is the right volume and, more importantly, the right song to get you in the driving mindset. We highly recommend Don Henley’s "Boys of Summer" or Tom Petty’s "Runnin’ Down a Dream." 

5. Adjust your aviators to ensure full eye protection, for driving safety and to look cooler than you actually are. (For bonus cool points accessorize them with a Southern Tide sunglass strap)

6. Make sure the stick is shifted to first gear. This is usually all the way to the left and forward, but varies by car. Either way it is labeled through gears 1-5, and an R for reverse.

7. Both feet should still be on pedals. Take your foot off the break and place it on then pedal on the far right. Gently push it a bit as you slowly lift your foot off of the break at the same time. You will feel it catch, and once this happens you can accelerate to start moving.

8.Yay, you’re rolling! (Probably not very quickly since you’re still in 1st gear). To go faster, you need to shift up to 2nd gear. Push the clutch all the way in again, and pull the stick into the gear labeled “2”. Your clutch must be all the way in to successfully shift gears. Accelerate again as you ease off the clutch.

9. Repeat step 9 each time you shift gears.

10. Cruise with the windows down and hear your gears change as you shift away.

*In order to break, it is essential that you have the clutch in. Otherwise, you’ll stall out...and then potentially need to have a little retail therapy to recover.*

Why You Should Take On the Manual Transmission

The above list may seem a bit daunting, so for extra motivation here is a list of practical reasons driving manual is undeniably better.

  • Bragging rights. Anyone can drive an automatic-the same cannot be said for a manual. It shows you are confident and know what you are doing, just like your outfit does.
  • You’re in control. You decide when to shift gears, choosing only the times when you want to shift. No more relying on the control of the automatic, it’s all in your well-manicured hands.
  • More power-literally. A manual transmission is actually a lot simpler than an automatic, meaning that more power goes directly to your wheels and not other car parts, meaning you can zip down the coastline no problem.
  • You can probably drive anything after mastering a manual. Boating has never looked so easy!
  • Less maintenance = more time on the golf course.
  • Be a lot cooler if you did. There’s no doubt about it-you’ll look, and feel, noticeably cooler while effortlessly shifting through your gears. There’s something about feeling the car respond to your touch that is empowering.

To avoid tensions while learning the formidable stick shift, listen to this playlist that is bound to make you break out the moves while driving!

Disclaimer: CCP is not responsible for any injuries that occur while learning the art of driving a manual transmission...or the refusal to drive an automatic from now on. 


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