Manual transmissions seem to be going the way of the dodo (a sad fact I lamented not long ago). That begs the question: If fewer manuals are being sold today, how in the world do we lonely stick-shift lovers find a decent set of wheels?
Are we relegated to ghostly used-car lots? Do we have a grim future of scanning classifieds? Are we going to fade into the margins of the marketplace, waiting with twitchy ankles for the rusted hand-me-downs our elders drove during the Reagan administration?
Well, no. Because it turns out automakers do still care about stick drivers — and they make some of their coolest cars with us in mind. Here are 7 new, modern, and manual cars to prove it.
2013 Buick Regal
Might as well come out with a bang — the first Buick available with a manual transmission since the 1989 Skyhawk! And for even more proof that this is one awesomely rare ride, it’s also a turbo with 220 horsepower. Giddy up.
Base price: $31,530
Most likely reason you’re buying it: to fool people into thinking you’re a kindly, retired orthodontist so they wave you ahead when exiting parking lots.
2013 Mazda Miata
The Miata has come in manual for over 20 years now and with good reason. As one of the lightest cars on the road (with a chassis that’s just over 2,000 pounds) and the most playful (can its top even go up?), the Miata has a definite carefree, sports-car vibe that can only be perfected with its famously easy-to-use shifter. And it appears, for now, that this formula ain’t going anywhere.
Base price: $23,720
Most likely reason you’re buying it: your current car AND blow-dryer both broke, so, hey, kill 2 birds….
2013 Audi TT RS
This ride should hold a special place in the hearts of stick drivers because not only is it a coveted, new vehicle available to us — it’s available only to us. Yes, in a world where many high-performance carmakers avoid manual transmissions for fear of losing customers, Audi has done the opposite: made a stick-only sports car to specifically attract (and thank) their hands-on, gear-loving fans. And with a stunning 0-60 time of just 4.1 seconds, the TT RS clearly isn’t a consolation prize.
Base Price: $58,095
Most likely reason you’re buying it: you want a nice car … and you want to ensure your newly licensed 16-year-old has no idea how to use it.
2013 Mazda5 Sport
There are many reasons you might drive a van. Maybe you happen to love them. Maybe it’s the only thing that can fit your family. Maybe you’re on the A-Team. Who knows. Point is, having a van doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your love for the manual transmission. As the Mazda5 minivan proves, stick shifts can appear in the least likely of places — and in this case, can cost roughly a grand less than an automatic.
Base price: $19,940
Most likely reason you’re buying it: you’re a member of the A-Team with a giant dog and a strong passion for drivable minivans.
2013 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
What’s that you say? Why tease when you (like most people) have no shot at affording such a beautiful, exotic treasure? Fair enough. But by golly, if Popular Mechanics is predicting this V-10, 560-horsepower bolt of sweet lightning will be the last manual Lamborghini ever makes, then it’s going on the list!
Base price: $202,000
Most likely reason you’re buying it: the Prince of Monaco’s birthday is coming up and you hear he’s a total car nerd.
2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
A feisty throwback to the muscle-car era — from the racing stripe along the center to the white ball atop the shifter — this Shelby can make waves with more than just its looks. It boasts 650 horsepower, can reach over 200 mph, and comes standard with a 6-speed transmission.
Base price: $54,650
Most likely reason you’re buying it: you’re shooting a modern-day remake of Grease.
2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
When you’ve mastered the stick shift, you want a vehicle that lets you prove it. Go off-roading in this 4×4 (with a long, herky-jerky shifter that you just don’t find on sedans and sports cars) and you’re sure to turn your passengers into awestruck putty. This is one of the last 4x4s with a manual transmission, so make sure to cherish it.
Base price: $30,595
Most likely reason you’re buying it: to show your old drivers ed teacher how far you’ve come.
So take heart, stick-shift diehards. As you can see there are still plenty of cool manual transmission cars on the market … and in any price range.