July 30, 2019

Chevy, VW axe their icons: Stick shift and small cars OUT, cell phones IN

David MenziesMission Specialist

It's bad news in the automotive world for two iconic cars, the VW Beetle and the Chevy Corvette.

Driven more by marketing than an actual needs-based analysis, too many drivers continue to clamour for supersized rides – even if they aren’t hauling anything and they happen to be the sole occupant. So, as a small two-door coupe, a car like the Beetle is terribly out of fashion these days and it will cease production (again.)

But even worse news on the automotive front is the recent news regarding the Chevrolet Corvette. No, GM isn’t sending the Vette to the scrapheap of obsolescence; rather, the next-generation Corvette won’t be available with a manual transmission.

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commented 2019-09-13 18:01:59 -0400
OH! Jee, no Manual tranny, what is the world coming to? You mean I will never have to change the clutch plates? Maybe they will still allow us to lubricate the Muffler bearings!
commented 2019-07-31 00:04:24 -0400
C. White, please tell me you purchased the Focus RS as (what may be) your last car… If not, the ST?
commented 2019-07-30 23:31:19 -0400
Thanks JJ for the knowledge you bring to this discussion. I bet we’ve all had some different (as well as some similar) experiences with Manual and Automatic Transmissions over the years. I could go into mine, but I would have to write a book. Not just my own cars, but my parents cars and my friends cars as well. Some of them High Performance, at least for that time period. My experience is that Manuals are definitely not bullet proof. Neither are Automatics, but when we look at times since the 60’s, we have seen amazing changes. Some for the better, and some for the worse. My worst Manual was in my ‘77 F-150 4×4. It was a 4 on the floor and kept jumping out of gear while moving, and at any speed. That was dangerous, and Ford could not fix the problem. Not one of my, nor my friends or parents Automatics caused them problems. I do remember some serious issues with some Automatics not long ago, but absolutely nothing regarding the Dual Clutch DSG’s coming out of Europe. That is what’s in my Golf. My first (reliable) car was a ’65 Valiant. A 225 slant six, with an Automatic. Could not kill it. Then a ’67 Fury III, with a slant six and an Automatic. Could not kill that one either. I chose an Automatic for my Golf, based on both life experience and many hours of research. Times are changing. I drove Manuals for years. They do not impress me anymore. Just my honest opinion…
commented 2019-07-30 22:30:16 -0400
Robert Sloane, Honda/Acura has the worst automatic transmission in history!! 2002-2012’ish and even up.. research them,that’s what he was referring to!

Toyota also has a neat problem,their automatics slam into park while driving on the highway,neat option!! I believe its their Toyota Sienna minivans!

As for the Dodge’s you think of,older 1990’s trucks had transmission problems but that was to the lack of maintenance,they are to adjust the bands in the transmissions and people didn’t thus slipping happened/leaking etc…that was after years of driving /towing/abuse..Still no maint…Honda was from 0 miles and they said if it lasts 20,000 miles then it should be okay lol,they weren’t!!

I am in the car business,restore cars,sell cars have friends who own transmission shops ,engine rebuilders etc…Toyota also has major oil burning issues on basically all of its cars(bad piston rings)..well they beat their sludge issues of 1997-2006 Toyota did and their head gasket issues of the 1990’s..Remember Toyota paid big media off to praise them…Also the random acceleration remember that!! It was a computer issue!!
commented 2019-07-30 22:23:57 -0400
Automatics became popular when Chrysler Corporation(Dodge,Plymouth) made the 727 transmission that was the 1st transmission to out shift a manual!!

This became popular in Drag Racing as it was stronger,more reliable than a manual transmission and won more races due to more consistent!

727 is the most reliable transmission around,takes abuse and hundreds of thousands of miles!

Today 6,7,8,9 and 10 speed automatics shift faster than a manual and get better gas mileage..

Older manuals had a hard clutch pedal so when the autmatic came out,it was easy driving…

Yes I own automatics and 4 manual cars,as a collector/restorer I can tell you people who drive newer manual cars have a tough time with older manual cars as the clutch pedal it hard and hilly city driving is tough lol…Drive my 70 Cuda 440 6barrel,4 speed ,dana 60 4.10 rear gear and you too will have a more calf muscles on your left leg than right!!
commented 2019-07-30 21:53:52 -0400
In January I bought what I assume to be last vehicle I will be buying, due to my age. I made sure it was stick. The birth of my driving was on a double clutch three in the tree IH panel.

The death of my driving will be a single clutch Ford Focus, but it is still stick.
commented 2019-07-30 20:53:11 -0400
JIM GOEGEBEUR commented 9 hours ago
Just wait till your Automatic has a problem & needs repairs. I have a friend who runs a Transmission repair shop. He says the new breed of Automatics just aren’t as robust as they used to be.

That’s true, and they haven’t been a long time. Even in pick up trucks, those automatic transmissions haven’t been good for a long time. That’s why they came out with these multi speed transmissions for pick ups. GM has been using a transmissions built by Allison, first with a five speed and then a six speed. If you want to pull a trailer, that’s the way to go.
commented 2019-07-30 18:18:13 -0400
i’d like to point out that there is a market for the beetle. yes, there is a trend for suvs (for families). but there is also a trend for hybrid and electric cars, which are small. it seems to me it’s the government’s interference in the market (giving money to tesla, for ex, and mandating electric in some states) that is the death of the beetle. given an even playing field, the beetle would likely win this auto war. but the gov is picking favorites (ex. california gov, which is how fascism works).
commented 2019-07-30 18:12:07 -0400
first, an interesting article on how the government is destroying car design!! https://alphanewsmn.com/design-regulations-helped-ruin-american-cars/

second, it was the automatic tranny that helped emancipate women. now most men are only a shadow of their great grandfathers and can’t use a stick shift anymore either. so they likewise now need an automatic transmission too. it’s a sad trend. a friend of my wife phoned her. her husband had a flat tire, and he didn’t know where the spare was located or the jack. he knew nothing. she phoned my wife so my wife could ask me how to change a tire, and then she could relayed it to her husband.
commented 2019-07-30 16:13:03 -0400
So right David. But it’s not just phones they have in their hand (!).
No more standard gearshift? Here’s why:
Get a load of the men of today. Thousands, thousands at the Fortnite competition.
Now these are real alpha males!!!!!

I’d like to know what the heck parents have taught their kids.
Correction: parents have taught their kids nothing, niente, nada, rien de tout
commented 2019-07-30 13:20:19 -0400
Jim, I do not know which Automatics your friend is referring to. Likely Dodge, and other American vehicles which are notorious for lack of reliability. Mine is a DSG Transmission, which has an impeccable record for reliability. It’s shared with Audi and Porsche, and is capable of handling very large increases in Horsepower and Torque. It’s also (like my Engine and Drivetrain) warrantied 100% through Volkswagen’s Standard Plan, plus an Extended Plan. That’s 100% replacement, well beyond 7 years. It just might outlive me. And like I said, while you’re changing gears, I have both hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road. I’ve had issues with Manual Transmissions in the past, and Clutches do not last forever.
commented 2019-07-30 12:07:59 -0400
Apparently most of the top European sports cars are already on the road (so to speak) of selling only automatic transmissions. Select manual mode and you have essentially a car that clutches for you while you play around manually switching gears, but without stripping them.
commented 2019-07-30 11:46:08 -0400
Just wait till your Automatic has a problem & needs repairs. I have a friend who runs a Transmission repair shop. He says the new breed of Automatics just aren’t as robust as they used to be. He’s never been busier. Manual Transmissions are far more enjoyable to use, last forever & they keep you involved & more alert in the driving process. And as usual it’s Government Regulations in play here, as Automakers can squeak out slightly better emission readings in their phony tests.
commented 2019-07-30 11:27:13 -0400
I’ve owned several high performance vehicles over the years, and all were Manuals. My latest car (my retirement car), was an easy pick. I chose a 4 door hatchback, 4 cylinder that gets good mileage. The added bonus was that my new car is (by far) the quickest and sportiest vehicle I’ve owned. And I’m comparing it to the likes of my ’85 Mustang GT. I chose my Golf R (with automatic), because the Auto is not only faster than the Manual, it is much easier to drive in heavy traffic. Manually changing gears in a Golf R not only slows it down, it also means taking one hand off the wheel. When driving a car this fast, I prefer to keep both hands on the wheel.