- Feb 2015

Death of the manual gearbox

It’s an unexplainable feeling. When you’re on a track and approaching a bend, your engine at full chat and you doing the three peddle dance whilst slowing down. You then select the right gear, kiss the apex and mash the loud peddle before hunting the next gear. Unfortunately, most flappy paddle users these days will never know the joy of mastering an “H” pattern gearbox.

Today I want to address the death of the manual gearbox since It’s becoming  more apparent to have a slush box instead of a stick. Sadly this is slowly but surely going to be the norm.

Now the normal girl/guy will be reading this and will ask, “Rich, have you EVER spent peak hour on Rivonia road, in bumper to bumper to traffic, with all the Sandton knobs breathing down your neck? And to top it off you have “Mageza” (explanation in an article to come) cutting you off again and again just for good measure!?” The answer is yes, hell yes. I hate the traffic situation as much as anyone from Jozi. My fight is not that. In that scenario, the automatic gearbox has its place and a good one at that.

I remember my grandfather who was a hardcore man, a former truck driver at that. He spent many hours, probably totalling years behind the wheel and he could never understand why someone would want an automatic. Granted, this was before the days of these new age, Steptronic, Tipshift, DSG, PDK, S-Tronic, ZF, dual clutch, smooth as Zuma’s answers about Nkandla gearboxes.

The truth is, auto’s from yester year were bad, and manuals were the way to go, case closed. This forced manufactures to go back to the drawing board and after hours of blood sweat and eisbein, we have the smooth gearboxes of today. My fight, actually not fight but rather issue is the fact that as good as these gearboxes are, the manual gearbox is dying.

Yes, traffic is a mess, and the last thing that most people want to think of is changing gears. For the die-hards though, the men and women with a hardcore “potries” (calve muscle), I feel we deserve a manual . As much as we have options to spec cars to the tilt, the manual should still be one of those options.

I recently sat with a friend of mine and we talked about him replacing his 911 Porsche (997) Carrera 2, for the new 911 GT3. What has delayed his purchase is the fact that he doesn’t have the option of choosing a manual clutch system in that vehicle.  Now before you say all the positives about how quick the Porsche PDK box is, which it is. Let me highlight an important fact, driver satisfaction.

You see the point of owning a supercar whether it’s a sedan or otherwise, should be enjoying the car at its absolute best. Having a control unit doing the work of your left leg limits the enthusiast from enjoying his/her car to the full. You might be able to get off the line much quicker and run through the box much faster but where is the fun in that? Where is the joy, the pleasure, the gratification that the heel and toe blip was me, and only me.

Yes, the modern city slicker in his turbocharged GTI tuned by Pog and Pull Racing might argue. The same guy whose car produces so much power that “me and choms had to hold the car down on the dyno”. All he does is simply engage launch control and off he goes. No skill needed, no drama, just point and shoot! Like Playstation, it’s as simple as that.

Yes, times have moved on and all of the above is just a rant from some guy that should have been born in the golden era of cars. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have been that popular though with a surname like Nwamba.  The point I’m making is this,we live in the days of options,many at that. You can even have your 911 GT3 in a colour that matches your favourite fruit, all for the sake of personalisation. So if that’s the case I believe we should still have the option of a self selector in the middle. Maybe I’m asking too much, what do you ladies and gents think? Email us at Richard.nwamba@themotorist.co.za and Francisco.nwamba@themotorist.co.za and give us your thoughts.

TheMotorist.

JUST.DRIVE

 

 

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