Manual transmission cars are unicorns, at least in America, where less than four percent of all new cars sold have three pedals (gas, brake, clutch). That number has actually been rising for the past couple of years, but it's still a fraction of manual transmission cars sold back in 1987 when almost 30 percent of all new cars had a stick shift. We can attribute much of the demise to the fact that they're no longer as practical as they once were, combined with the fact that most people want the path of least resistance and driving a stick shift takes skill and practice. That hurdle might just be too much for most people.

Combine that fact with the rise of electrification where cars don't even need multiple gears but operate with a single-speed transmission that doesn't shift at all. Even if you don't get an EV, automatic transmissions are far better than they used to be. There are paddle shifters that allow you to downshift on command, and they operate faster than manual transmissions. That said, we think manual transmissions are still wonderful, and we strive to keep on in our own garage for as long as we can. Here are five great reasons to get a manual transmission car while you still can.

They're Cheaper to Maintain

Automatic transmissions are easy to use but not easy to repair. If you mess things up or something goes wrong with your automatic transmission, expect a high repair bill simply because there are so many complex parts more now than ever before. Manual transmissions are usually cheaper to maintain and repair than automatics because the more moving parts you have, the more likely that there will be a failure. All of those parts interact with each other, so when one fails, it affects more than just that individual part.

An automatic has, literally, hundreds of mechanical, hydraulic, and electronic components that need to operate together for power delivery. Typically, automatic transmissions have planetary gear sets, hydraulics, clutches, seals and gaskets, a torque converter, a modulator, and a computer, just to name a few. If any one of these parts goes bad, you can have numerous problems on your hands, and the repairs can be as complex as the problem. Manual transmissions are largely mechanical and consist of clutch, flywheel, gear selector, input and output shafts, synchromesh gears, and a shift lever. Sure, things can go wrong, but typically the repairs are not nearly as pricey, and parts tend to last much longer.

They're Less Distracting to Drive

Modern cars are packed with so much technology that it's hard to focus on the road. Big infotainment screens, touch and haptic feedback controls, ambient lighting, massage functions, you name it. It seems automakers focus more on entertainment than they do on the driving experience. That can all be mitigated by driving a manual transmission car. Why, you ask? Well, it's impossible to drive a manual transmission car without paying attention to exactly what the car is doing. You have to interplay the clutch, brake, and gas with the operation of the gearshift lever.

If you don't downshift when your car is slowing down, the car will stall out. If you mis-shift your car might not accelerate well on the on-ramp to the highway. You also need to know exactly what gear you're in, and that's actually intuitive when you've driven your manual transmission car enough and you know what position your lever is in. The bottom line is you spend far less time sitting there letting the shift work be done for you by an automatic transmission and more time roping your gears and managing the pedals, which means you spend less time fussing around with operations of the car that have nothing to do with actually driving.

They are a Theft Deterrent

The manual transmission has been dubbed the “millennial anti-theft device” because the vast majority of young people don't know how to drive a manual transmission. Driver's education classes no longer require students to learn how to drive on a manual transmission car, which is terrible because if you can drive a manual, you can easily drive an automatic, not vice versa. These days, car thefts are up significantly. As of 2022, most states experienced tremendous increases in car thefts, and that means you need to be protected.

If you get a manual transmission car, there's less of a likelihood of your car being stolen. While it doesn't mean it won't happen, the chances are far less than an automatic. Think about it. If you have an automatic, the thief just needs to be able to open the door and start the car. If you have a manual, they might not even bother trying to open it since they probably can't even drive the car away. It's a visual deterrent, as well as a functional deterrent. All the more reason to consider one.

They're More Fun to Drive

This is our favorite reason why you should consider a manual transmission car. They're just more fun to drive because they provide tremendous driver engagement. When you use the pedals and gearshift knob in harmony, the result is a connection with the car that you can't get with any automatic transmission, no matter how good it is. You know exactly what's going on with the driving experience, and your ability to shift deftly results in a truly rewarding experience.

This is why driving a cheap car with a manual transmission can be more entertaining than a pricey sports car with an automatic. You get more control of the vehicle because it's all analog. I rarely know what gear I'm in when I'm driving an automatic unless I can see the number of the gear on the instrument cluster. In a manual transmission car, you just know. It's totally intuitive. Some folks complain about having to change gears in traffic, but the payoff the rest of the time is totally worth it.