Is it the end of an era for stick-shift cars?
TORONTO -- They once made up about one third of all vehicles on the road, but now only a small fraction of cars sold in North America come with a manual transmission.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States said in 1980 about 35 per cent of all vehicles sold in North America had a manual transmission, but the agency said that number has currently dropped to about one per cent.
Now, sales of electric cars outpace cars with manual transmission and as fewer stick-shift cars are made, fewer people know how to drive them.
Natasha de Melis of Woodbridge, Ont. has a 1967 Ford Mustang GT Fastback in original condition with low mileage. But best of all for her, it's a stick shift.
“What I love most about driving a manual transmission is that you feel in control of the car," said de Melis.
de Melis said she learned to drive stick early because her father wanted her to know how to drive a car with a standard transmission.
“It was my Dad who gave me this birthday gift. He actually rented a Porsche for me to learn manual on,” said de Melis. “It was an incredible birthday experience I will never forget."
Some car companies have posted tutorials online to teach people how to drive a stick shift as it’s estimated that only about 20 per cent of drivers in North America know how to.
Hagerty Canada provides insurance for classic cars as well as a platform for manual transmission enthusiasts.
It also periodically hosts the Hagerty Driving Experience to teach people how to drive a stick shift.
Amy Pearson-Blay is the Vice President of Hagerty Canada and said “4,000 students have learned to drive manual since July 2011."
Pearson-Blay owns two manual transmission vehicles herself, a Delorean (the car from the Back to the Future films) and a Mazda Miata.
Pearson-Blay said knowing how to drive a stick shift is a good life skill.
“Having the control to tell the car when to go, how fast to go and when it's time to change the gears depending on the rpms is all good for a driver to know how to do,” said Pearson-Blay.
Because manual transmission vehicles are becoming more rare they're also increasing in value.
de Melis is asked about selling her Mustang so often she has a "not for sale" air freshener hanging from the mirror and says she has no plans to ever sell the car.
“At the end of the day nothing beats your typical 4 speed, 5 speed or 6 speed manual when it comes to driving,” said de Melis.
While there are fewer cars with manual transmissions in North America, that's not the case in other parts of the world. In Europe, about 80 per cent of cars are manual.