Short Version: My friend is an 18-year-old car spotter and wants to buy an E46 as his first car. Despite my pro-manual advice, he says he’ll probably get one with an automatic transmission. How do I convince him otherwise?

Long Version: My friend has a seriously intense passion for cars. He routinely drives 300 miles round trip just to photograph one car at a dealership, and he keeps count of every hypercar he’s seen. And yet when it comes to his first car, he says he’s “probably going to get an auto.” Translation: “a manual would be cool, but I’m not comfortable driving one yet”

And it’s not like he’s driving in LA stop-and-go traffic; he lives in rural PA and does exclusively highway driving at 6am/8pm on weekends. So it’s bullshit when he gives the excuse that, “If I was only doing weekend cruising I’d get a manual, but I’m doing a lot of driving.” Yeah, a lot of 6th gear for 2 hours at a time. If there was ever a time to be fearful of driving stick, this is absolutely NOT it. And he’ll still have access to his parents extra car (auto, minivan) if he needs to drive somewhere congested like Manhattan.

But like any good Jalop, I’ve been teaching him to drive stick on my C6 Vette, which Mr. Regular describes as the best car to learn stick on thanks to its forgiving clutch and low-end torque. And that wisdom is proving true; I can count the number of times my friend has stalled on one hand.

Of course, we all know that you don’t learn stick from a few scattered lessons. You need to do it everyday to become fluent. Unfortunately, he seems to be missing a vital gearhead chromosome; the one that makes you want to learn manual. I remember how daunting it was to learn stick, but unlike him, I went out of my way to get seat time in my dad’s manual A4. For me, learning stick was a non-negotiable rite of passage to be considered a real gearhead.


I just find it disappointing and downright confusing that someone with such an encyclopedic knowledge of cars would be so apathetic towards learning stick. I’m not saying he has to become a diehard manual proponent like me, but to straight up deny himself the opportunity to learn? That’s pretty low.

So what say you Oppo? And for your time, here’s my old manual E46 330xi.