Jane Macdougall: The Bookless Club drives a shift

In 2006, less than half of the 305 car models sold in the United States offered a manual transmission. In 2016, 27% of these models offered a gear lever. In 2020, only 13% of these models offered a manual transmission.

Content of the article

Cars are being stolen at an alarming rate.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

The worst province for auto theft is Ontario, which reported nearly 25,000 thefts in 2020. Alberta ranks second in auto theft and British Columbia comes in third with 10,359 flights. Those numbers are wonky, depending on who you ask, but they’re all still surprisingly high.

Content of the article

Insurance and police websites offer all sorts of advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. You know most of these preventions – well-lit, busy parking spaces; block an expensive car parked in your driveway with a less expensive car; car alarms – but there’s one tip they completely miss.

Manual transmission.

Driving a gear stick.

According to statistics from the United States Bureau of Justice from a study from 2010 to 2014, the maximum age for motor vehicle theft offenses is in the 15 to 19 age group. In Canada, recent figures show that young people between the ages of 12 and 17 are responsible for 42% of auto thefts.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article


These guys can’t drive.

These guys can’t even dial a rotary phone number!

If you have a manual transmission, park your car in an unlit alley. It will be there when you return.

There is only one problem with this solution: the gear lever is disappearing from the automotive landscape.

In 2006, less than half of the 305 car models sold in the United States offered a manual transmission. In 2016, 27% of these models offered a gear lever. In 2020, only 13% of these models offered a manual transmission. In 2018, the Ford Ram 2500 became the last full-size pickup truck with a manual transmission option.

If you’re a manual transmission enthusiast, that’s bad news. But wait, it gets worse. Ferrari stopped producing its famous manual gearbox in 2016. Lamborghini and McLaren no longer offer manual transmissions, and the BMW 5 and BMW 6 no longer have a gear lever. There is, however, one hesitation – Porsche. If you want a performance manual transmission car, Porsche is one of the few remaining options.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

The reasons for the disappearance of the shifter in North America have to do with improvements in automatic transmissions. The latest automatic transmissions can shift gears faster than any human is capable of. The fact that standard transmissions are cheaper and easier to repair probably also plays a role in this extinction.

Electric cars are neither fish nor fowl. Since electric cars don’t have an internal combustion engine, shifting gears doesn’t matter. That’s why electric cars offer such incredible acceleration. Electric cars can deliver maximum torque at any speed. Here’s another interesting consideration: electric cars tend to be theft proof. Large quantities of stolen cars are shipped overseas to countries in West Africa where there is little or no infrastructure to recharge them. Car thieves prefer a Honda or a Lexus, the two most stolen cars in Canada.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

I remember learning to drive a shifter. I had a particularly good teacher who illustrated the concept of the clutch momentarily disengaging the engine from the transmission. By the time I had that clearly in my mind, I was off to the races. My teacher said driving a manual transmission car was the difference between driving and riding. He said it takes skill and care. It was, he said, a bit like dancing. It quickly became second nature.

I wonder though if I could still do it today?

Given that only about 2% of cars sold in North America today have a manual transmission, I may never know.

Jane Macdougall is a freelance writer and former National Post columnist living in Vancouver. She will write about The Bookless Club every Saturday online and in The Vancouver Sun. To learn more about what Jane does, check out her website, janemacdougall.com

Advertising 6

Content of the article

This week’s question for readers:

Have you learned to drive a shifter? Can you still?

Email your responses text, not an attachment, in 100 words or less, with your full name to Jane at thebooklessclub@gmail.com. We will print some next week in this space.

Answers to last week’s question for readers:

What do you think of the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II??

• I was born in Italy. As a little girl, I was sent to school in Scotland. As I had to learn a new language, I became an avid reader of all things royal. On June 2, 1953, I saw Elizabeth being crowned queen.

I grew up with her. I admired him very much. Queen Elizabeth leaves a legacy of grace, dignity, tolerance, respect for tradition and love of God. I lower my head in grief and wish him eternal rest.

Advertising 7

Content of the article


• Thank you, thank you for your thoughtful and insightful article on the late Queen Elizabeth. Very often in this Twitter universe, we don’t take the time to really understand the depth and complexity of an issue. As you said, the Queen certainly exemplified the concepts of duty and self-sacrifice, two difficult concepts in our culture of self-promotion.

Anne Macht

• I was surprised at how touched I was by the news of Queen Elizabeth’s death. She was already queen and mother when I was born, and it’s hard to lose anything that has been a stable presence. The fact that she touched so many of us shows how well she did her job. I wish King Charles all the best, but I will miss “Lillibet” so much.

DS Patel

• When Princess Elizabeth visited British Columbia in 1951, she traveled from Vancouver to Victoria on a naval frigate. We knew it would have to go through Active Pass, so we got on our neighbor’s boat and cruised there. We anchored with many other boats just outside the entrance to the pass. Soon the frigate came at full speed and all the boats began to blow their horns. The captain honked his horn in return. She was at the bow wearing her brightly colored headscarf. As a 10 year old girl, I was so excited to see a real princess alive.

Marilyn Blac

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.