National stick shift day: A losing battle?

Jul 17, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: Jul 20, 2023, 7:08 am

Interior of a 1980 Toyota Celica. (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)...

Interior of a 1980 Toyota Celica. (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

(Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)


SALT LAKE CITY — If you listen to the radio on your drive to work or while you’re in the car, cruising down the highway, there’s a 97% chance you’re only using two pedals.

National Stick Shift Day is July 16th. It started in 2018 as a way to encourage cars with a clutch pedal. However, the battle to shift your own gears is being lost.

The front lines

Standing strong in the fight is Nick Mortensen, riding in his 1979 Chevrolet Camaro.

“A guy offered to buy it off me a couple of days ago,” he said.

He’s working his clutch and fourspeed shifter. For him, driving a stick shift is more fun. 

“And I think more useful,” he added. “It’s less hard on your brakes.”

If your battery or starter goes out, you can pushstart a manual. And you can still spin tires with a smaller engine, like in a Jetta.

Jetta spins tires. (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

Jetta Interior. (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

16-year-old Max Frazier is shopping for a used car with a clutch.

“They’re cooler than automatic, by far,” he said. “There’s cool stuff you can do that only a stick shift can do.”

But you have to drive it more. Like in a threewheeled, notop Polaris Slingshot.

Polaris Slingshot (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

“It’s that highlyengaged driving experience,” said Joey Lindahl from Polaris Marketing. Their dealers gave lessons on how to drive a stick until they finally came out with a shiftforyou in 2020.

“Prior to that, the number one request we were getting from owners was some sort of automated option,” she explained.

Preserving the stick shift legacy

“We’ve even stuck with manual transmission on Corolla, which adds another element of funtodrive,” said Mortensen. 

That was Toyota Product Planning in 2021. They killed the manual Corolla this year. Carmax said 2.4% of the cars they sold were manuals in 2020, down from a fourth in
1995. Worldwide, manuals are 36% of the market. But not in the U.S. Joe Serda from Cheyenne, WY
said that it has to do with the laziness of Americans nowadays.

There are no halfton or heavyduty trucks you can shift yourself, and there are about 30 cars left you can buy with the option.

To Alan Macey, things were looking bleak. Macey was designing cars when he saw future models coming without the threepedal option.

“It really just started out as a tshirt idea,” he explained.

Now, he runs the Manual Gearbox Preservation Society.

“Manual transmissions are going away because car companies are in the business of making money,” he said. “To make money selling cars, you have to simplify the variations in the product. And if not a lot of people are buying something then it goes away.”

Macey said the Manual Gearbox Preservation Society is careful not to have a “Holier than Thou” attitude because some people are sensitive that they can’t drive stickshifts.

A last stand?

Justin Steiger of Ogden can and does like to drive stick, so he put a fivespeed manual in his police carlooking 2005 Ford Crown Victoria.

Justin Steiger and his 2005 Ford Crown Victoria (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

“With a stick shift, you have to kind of feel your car and know what it’s doing.”

His 14-year-old daughter’s next.

Charlotte Steiger. (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

“It’s exciting to learn stick,” she said. 

Ben Crockett of College Ward bought a Mazda Miata off a guy who changed the transmission to a manual.

Ben Crockett in his Mazda Miata (Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)

“Makes a car ten times more enjoyable,” he said.

For about 2% of us, and declining.

Related Reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Image of John A. Moran, who died Sept. 23, 2023. Moran had a passion for eye care, which led to the...

Mark Jones

John A. Moran remembered for passion for eye care

John A. Moran has died at age 91. He was the driving force behind creation of the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah.

7 hours ago

Image of Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, who is still considering whether he will attempt a run for the U.S...

Lindsay Aerts

Rep. John Curtis “a nine” (on a one-to-ten scale) about Senate run

Rep. John Curtis said he's currently weighing if a Senate run is best for him, the state, his staff, and Utah's 3rd Congressional District.

9 hours ago

a mom and her baby at a WIC clinic --SALT LAKE CITY -- Gov. Spencer Cox announced Thursday that a f...

Hugo Rikard-Bell

WIC benefits in Utah will continue through October regardless of government shutdown

Utah moms and children will have their WIC benefits funded through the United States Department of Agriculture.

13 hours ago

Image shows a pile of Legos. A Utah couple participates in a national Lego building contest....

Emma Keddington

Utah couple to compete in Lego Masters

The Utah couple will compete on Season Four of the national television show Lego Masters.

15 hours ago

SALT LAKE CITY — An attorney representing a group of former employees and contractors of Operatio...

Lindsay Aerts, Larry D. Curtis

‘These allegations are true,’ say former OUR employees about Tim Ballard

An attorney representing a group wanting to make a public statement about Operation Underground Railroad read a statement Thursday morning.

16 hours ago

Image from Washington County Police body cam shows a happy reunion of Gus and his family on Sept. 2...


BODY CAM: Southern Utah family’s traffic stop on road trip turns into missing cat rescue

A 6-month-old cat named Gus was rescued from a car's grill during a routine traffic stop. The family thought the cat had gone missing.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

National stick shift day: A losing battle?