There was a time when knowing how to drive a stick shift was a requirement if you wanted to get behind the wheel simply because every family had at least one manual transmission.
Sure, automatics were around in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but they were typically a dealer option that not everyone splurged for because of cost.
Though, since the roles are reversed today and fewer and fewer models are available in a manual – only 10% of all new cars on the market – most teenagers don’t bother to live the three-pedal lifestyle, mainly because they don’t have access to a stick shift.
However, if you’re an automotive enthusiast who sees the value in having your child learn how to engage the clutch and downshift, but don’t know what type of beater vehicle to buy, don’t fret.
There are plenty of solid used four and five-speed cars available that are easy to learn on and won’t break the bank.
Though perceived as the sports car of choice for men going through a midlife crisis, the Miata is also known to be one of the easiest manual transmission cars to drive.
So why not teach your teenager how to drive a stick in a fun and sporty car that you can then keep for your own enjoyment once he or she has grasped the concept of shifting?
The best selling two-seat convertible of all time is lightweight, meaning that the driver can release the clutch slowly without applying any throttle, and it has a precious gearbox that doesn’t usually slip.
While the average price of a used Miata may seem a little steep at $5,500, it’ll provide your teen with an unforgettable driving experience that will surely make him or her love the art of the shift.
Ford Ranger or Chevy S-10
While it would be cool to purchase the same model muscle car you had in your youth and let your teen cruise around in style just like you did back in the day, this probably wouldn’t be the most practical option for a beginner.gmail
Rather, the better choice would be to opt for a vehicle with less power than a 1979 Trans Am, but one that could take the type of clutch beating from someone who’s just starting out. Thus, enter the world of older model compact pickups, such as the Ranger or S-10.
Although these trucks are often considered underpowered and have a reputation as being harder to shift because of the longer gearbox, that’s exactly what you want for a first timer.
It will help your teen learn how properly stop and start on a hill since he or she will have to preciously engage the clutch at the right time to prevent an engine stall. And once you can master a five-speed truck, there’s nothing you can’t handle.
Honda Civic or Accord
If there’s one thing Honda stick shifts are know for, it’s their durability. Tend to ride the clutch too much in traffic and afraid that you’re wearing it out too fast?
If you have a Honda, don’t’ worry. The clutch and its assembly won’t wear out that easily. And when it does, it’s cheap and easy to replace.
Because of this, any late model Honda sedan that’s either a four or five speed is the perfect car to learn on.
For example, an older, well-maintained manual transmission Civic purchased on Craigslist won’t cost much more than $3,000 and can be driven well over 250,000 miles.
And since it can seat four comfortably, it’ll make a great second or third vehicle that can then be passed down to the next child in line.
For more best car lists, or to have a new clutch kit and/or assembly replaced on your car, call Andy’s Auto at 412-478-9304 to schedule an appointment.