We here in Oppoland tend to prefer the do-it-yourself method when it comes to changing gear. Generally, it makes driving more enjoyable and more engaging while giving the driver more control over the vehicle and so on and so forth.

But sometimes things that should be good actually suck. A lot. I’ve driven just about anything that could come with a manual from Miatas to 18-wheelers; from the precise *snick* of a Mazda to the arm-breaking stiffness of an old International grain truck. But nothing was worse than a 6-speed 2010 Camry.

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A close friend bought it brand new in 2010. He previously had a ‘98 Crown Vic cop car that he badly botched a rear diff rebuild on and he was sick of old car problems, so it was traded on a bottom-rung Camry. He’s partly Jalop, so he requested a manual, and a fullsize sedan with a manual seems like a great thing. He had it for a few days before giving me a ride. Every shift was jarring and awful. I commented on this, jabbing at his manual transmission skills. He responded by whipping to the side of the road and saying “see if you can do better”. I could not. You see, Toyota’s drive-by-wire throttles were notoriously dimwitted and slow at the time, and this car was no exception. You could slam your foot all the way to the floor and lift completely off without the tach budging. This would have gone mostly unnoticed with an automatic but, when trying to shift smoothly and modulate the throttle precisely, it was like the driver had the clutch and shifter but the passenger had the gas pedal. It was infuriating to drive and impossible to make a smooth gear change. I think he owned it for 2 or 3 weeks before begging the Toyota dealer to let him trade it in on a used Corolla with an automatic at the value he paid.

Have you ever driven a manual-equipped vehicle that made you wish it had a slushbox?