Searching for Manuel...

Well, thanks to Party-vi I now have authorship here on Oppo. For my inaugural post I felt like discussing the thing I’ve been dealing with for the past couple of weeks - car shopping.

My mom’s family is paying for his first, but with a list of requirements:

- $8000 or less

- FWD or AWD (for winter... no budging on this point from them)

- 4-door

- Relatively reliable (Sorry to all the cheap 9-superscript-3s out there)

- Relatively economical (but no specific numbers mentioned...)

- Preferably around 100k miles, but flexible to around 130k

- My brother’s single request was that he get a manual. Thankfully the powers that be saw no issue with that.


So, armed with this list I attacked Autotrader as well as all the different Craigslist sites within ~200 miles of home base. And that’s where I found an issue. My mom’s family is from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, which is apparently home to any car you could ever want. Seriously, I think the last R63 AMG that went up on Autotrader was about 15 minutes from my Grandfather’s. There were 84 listings for vehicles matching our needs within 10 miles of his house. After much reasoning and culling of falsely-labeled transmissions, we ended with 30 vehicles to choose from within 10 miles of his house. I attempt the same search here at home (Central Arkansas). I end up with ~120 results within 200 miles. After the same reasoning and culling, we ended up with 6 vehicles. The closest was half an hour away, the remainder were 2.5-3.5 hours travel time from home. 30 cars within 10 miles vs. 6 cars within 200 miles.

This made me start to question why this happened. The obvious reasoning that Chicago is more populated so undoubtedly you’ll net more cars does stand, but it made me question what the percentage of manuals per __# of people was. To me it stands to reason that if one lived in a heavily urban area, there would be less demand for manuals due to traffic issues. At least, that’s the argument my mom’s family posed against any of them purchasing something with a clutch. Yet most (honestly with the requirements, almost all) of the vehicles I encountered were commuters. But as I live in Arkansas, land of little traffic (apart from that caused by the elderly on single-lane rural highways), I would assume the percentage of manual-equipped-commuters to be slightly higher, yet most of the vehicles my query returned were “sporting”. Mazdaspeeds, a couple of Sentra SE-Rs, and a (barely sporting) Focus ZX4 ST.

So the question I pose to those of you bored enough to read such a pedantic post as this, what are your thoughts on this or what experience have you had when manual car shopping?

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