Have you every had the feeling that something is missing? I had that last night. I was driving down the road in our Grand Caravan, and just really missed driving a manual and having rear wheel drive.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Grand Caravan. Even if I didn’t have kids, if I needed a vehicle with space to carry stuff, I would think about getting one.
But I really miss having a manual transmission and rear wheel drive. I miss having both, but the combination of the two I really miss. The last manual transmission I had was in a 2008 Ford Focus. A fun little car, but unfortunately it was front wheel drive. The last rear wheel drive vehicle I had was a 1997 Ford Expedition. Ok, it was really four wheel drive, but close enough since in two wheel drive it was just the rear wheel driving it anyway.
The last vehicle I had that was rear wheel drive, and had a manual was a 1985 Chevy Pickup. It was four wheel drive, but again, in two wheel drive, it was just the back tires moving you around.
It was fun. The engine was a mildly warmed over 350, and it was a lot of fun to drive. Sure, with the truck transmission shifter, you weren’t going to be power shifting it, but you were still shifting it.
Plus, driving an older 3/4 ton 4×4 pickup, you feel like you could drive over just about anything that got in your way. I know the newer trucks sit just as high or higher, but there is something about driving an old pickup that just feels like it is indestructible. Maybe it is the fact that you can actually see the parts inside that hold it together. It just isn’t a sea of nicely shaped plastic.
There is just something that is missing when I drive a vehicle with an automatic. Sure, the six speed auto in my van is great, and the van has decent power. I haven’t tested it, but from magazine reports, it runs the quarter mile in about 16 seconds flat. But I just feel disconnected when I am driving an automatic. I like telling the car when to shift, and I take pride in being able to shift a manual smoothly.
On shifting smoothly, it took some getting used to in the Focus, since the computer controlled throttle body would slowly shut, since it slamming shut when you let off the gas increases emissions. But it makes it tough to drive smooth. Go figure, we are to that level on emissions that how fast the throttle is closed affects it.
But even with that, it is nice to be in control of when and how a vehicle shifts. There is a feeling of being connected to the car you are driving. And I enjoy that.
And with rear wheel drive, there is more of a sense of balance. Sure, you don’t have as much traction in the winter (for those of you who are down south, I live in Minnesota where snow makes winter driving “interesting”). But that is part of the fun also.
It all depends, do you want a car to just get you from point A to point B? Or do you want to have fun getting there? To me, the drive can be more fun, in the right car.