Home » Early ‘Manumatic’ Transmissions Were Even Weirder Than You Remember

Early ‘Manumatic’ Transmissions Were Even Weirder Than You Remember

Manumatic Modes Topshot 2
ADVERTISEMENT

It’s no secret that automatic transmissions have just become better and better over the past few decades. It wasn’t that long ago when long-ratio torque-converter autos gained the unfortunate “slushbox” nickname, but through electronic controls, mechatronic advancements, additional ratios, and better tuning, today’s automatics have done a serious number on manual transmissions’ market share. One thing we appreciate is being able to change our own gears even on an automatic — something that some call “manumatic control” — but let’s not forget that such a feature used to be a very strange and inconsistent thing indeed.

Save for General Motors and Ford, automakers have typically settled on one of two ways to control the manual mode in an automatic transmission. Pretty much everything made in the past decade uses a fore-aft rock of the shifter and/or paddles on the steering wheel or column to facilitate manumatic driving, and we’ve all just taken that for granted. However, go back fifteen, twenty, even 25 years, and the mix of manumatic modes was a whole lot weirder.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

First, a quick pre-amble: The origin of the term “Manumatic” is far weirder than you’d think. Back in the 1950s, a British company called Automotive Products Company Ltd. came up with a way to turn manual transmissions into semi-automatic ones using a centrifugal clutch, vacuum, hydraulic pressure, and some electrical wizardry. The name, as per registered trademark, was Manumatic.

Manumatic Ad 1

How did it work? When changing gear, a switch inside the gear lever would send a signal to a vacuum control unit, which would then use vacuum to disengage the clutch and close the throttle. When the gearchange was completed, a synchronizer switch on the clutch disengagement mechanism would send a different signal to the vacuum control unit, which would then slowly engage the clutch while the throttle was being opened via vacuum.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mg Magnette Service Manual

As such, the original Manumatic was a semi-automated transmission with no true automatic mode, and reliability was reportedly lacking. According to the MG Magnette registry, “The basic trouble with the system was its complexity; it incorporated a large number of components of unique design, which had an almost infinite capacity for failing.” Sure, the first manumatic was a flop, but the name, if not the concept, stuck around well enough to eventually become common parlance for a conventional torque converter automatic transmission with some way of letting the driver cycle through all forward gear ratios individually. Now that’s a great example of how language changes over time. My best theory is that the Manumatic was familiar to the UK press, then semi-automatics died out, then Porsche’s Tiptronic came along in 1991, pipping Ferrari’s use of the Valeo automated manual in the 1992 Mondial T. From there, shiftable automatics grew in popularity, while automated manual transmissions didn’t quite become a buzzword until the launch of the 355 F1. Basically, it’s likely the manumatic term was applied to shiftable automatics because new semi-automatics didn’t really exist in a widespread manner at the time.

Anyway, enough about automated manuals and vacuum operation — let’s talk about manumatics as we now know the term today, specifically the weirdest ones.

Alfa Romeo Q-System

Alfa Romeo Q System

Alfa Q System H Auto

ADVERTISEMENT

Around the turn of the millennium, Alfa Romeo decided that everyone else was doing it wrong. If that previous sentence strikes absolute terror into your heart, you’d heard a thing or two about Italian cars. Mercifully, Alfa’s solution involved working with the Japanese. Still, the end result was wacky: An H-pattern automatic transmission. Huh?

Park through Drive worked as you’d expect in an automatic shifter, but then manumatic gears one through four were arranged in a traditional manual H-pattern to the left of Drive. No clutch, no fifth gear, no problem! This is absolute insanity, and I wholeheartedly love it. Who comes up with an idea like this? Who approves it? What’s it like to drive? I have so many questions and I’d absolutely love to experience an Alfa 156 with the Q-System automatic. If you live near Toronto, own one, and are willing to let me take one around the block, please drop me an email or a DM.

Jaguar J-Gate

Jaguar J Gate

Of course, many years before Alfa Romeo’s H-patterned automatic wackiness came Jaguar’s infamous J-Gate, one of the most disappointing attempts at a manumatic mode in the history of automatic transmissions. I’m going to catch some flak for that statement, but hang on, let me explain.

ADVERTISEMENT

Why the hell does this manumatic mode only go down to two? That’s because J-Gate only limits the maximum gear ratio, not the exact gear ratio. Slot the lever into the “2” position, and your Jaguar may shift between first and second, but it won’t shift higher. If I want a gear, give me a gear, dammit, not a range of them. Secondly, the J-Gate takes up a ton of space that could’ve been used for far more useful stuff. Jaguar seems to have agreed, considering the J-Gate got dropped for an electronic rotary shifter in the original XF. However, this basic gear limiting can be useful in the snow or in spirited driving, so it’s a hell of a lot better than just sticking to drive. Remember, no matter how sub-optimal a better alternative is, it’s still a better alternative. Just take what you have and make the most of it.

Front Of The Wheel

Porsche 993 Tiptronic Callout

 

Even Porsche got in on the experimental manumatic weirdness after setting the benchmark for manumatic modes with its Tiptronic S automatic transmission. First installed in the 1995 993-model 911, it had a manumatic mode you could manipulate from the shifter and steering wheel, albeit the latter in a rather weird way. In the 986 Boxster, 996 911, 997 911, and 987 Boxster and Cayman, manumatic shifting from the shifter was lost entirely, in favor of controls on the wheel. Unfortunately, these were effectively rocker switches on the front of the steering wheel — press up to upshift, press down to downshift. It was an ergonomic clusterfuck, and as a result, Tiptronic S Boxsters , 996 Porsche 911s, and 997 Porsche 911s are worth less than their manual counterparts.

ADVERTISEMENT

Now, here’s what the internet won’t tell you about Tiptronic S. If you can get around the weirdness of the rocker switches, the five-speed automatic is a perfectly fine automatic transmission. It’s not lightning fast, but it’s fast enough, and it obeys your commands fairly well. If an automatic suits your needs and you’ve always fancied a Porsche 911 but can’t stretch to a PDK-equipped 997.2, take a Tiptronic S car for a whirl. The results might pleasantly surprise you.

Push-Pull Paddles

Bmw E90 Push Pull Paddles

Speaking of controls that multitask, several automakers played around with push-pull paddles, before many of them switched over to having the left paddle downshift and the right paddle upshift. McLaren does these right, in that the left paddle shifter and the right paddle shifter operate inversely. You pull the left paddle shifter to downshift and push it towards the dashboard to upshift, and that order is reversed with the right paddle shifter. However, in the mid-aughts, many automakers from BMW to Mazda adopted push-pull paddles that both operated identically, meaning both paddles either push-to-downshift and pull-to-upshift or push-to-upshift and pull-to-upshift.

ADVERTISEMENT

As many of these setups came paired with perfectly logical manumatic gates on the shifter itself, it often made more sense to just use the damn gearstick. Look, the mid-noughties were a weird time. Weirdly enough, the E90 BMW 3 Series used both these push-pull paddles and normal paddles in the same generation, with the switch happening in 2011.

Side-To-Side

Mercedes-Benz Autostick

We’re all familiar with the most popular method of manumatic control, a longitudinal gate on a shifter rocked back-and-forth to upshift and downshift, yes? Well, here’s a weird variation on that. Many Chrysler vehicles and Mercedes-Benz models in the 2000s took the standard Tiptronic gate, turned it sideways, and moved it to the bottom of the shifter pattern to create AutoStick. Simply push right to upshift, or push left to downshift, and the gearbox would usually do your bidding.

While still weird compared to where things stand now, AutoStick made a reasonable amount of sense, as it used a natural wrist motion and somewhat followed the logic of a traditional H-pattern manual transmission. In a non-dogleg ‘box, the 2-3 shift is up and to the right, while the 3-2 shift is down and to the left. What’s more, it was agnostic on hand-of-drive — left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive cars featured the same ergonomics from the same shifter. While this setup eventually died out, it really makes you wonder why more models didn’t stick with it for longer.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Future Of The Manumatic Mode

Of course, with the dawn of the electric age, manumatic modes are becoming less and less relevant, seeing as most EVs don’t have anything more than a single fixed gear ratio. You can’t stall an electric motor, they make great power over a massive RPM range, and with peak torque from zero RPM, you don’t have to worry that much about torque multiplication. These days, paddle shifters in EVs are used primarily for adjusting the amount of desired regenerative braking, although that’s starting to change. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N features simulated gears for the sake of engagement, and more performance EVs could pick up on this. Just because the controls for manumatic modes are more standardized than other doesn’t mean the process itself isn’t about to get a whole lot more weird.

(Photo credits: Anglia Car Auctions/YouTube, eBay/BMC, BMC, Goo-Net Exchange, Bring A Trailer)

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
64 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chewcudda
Chewcudda
4 months ago

I’m remembering my dad telling me how to operate the “Fluid Drive” Chrysler cars of the 1940s.

Codfangler
Codfangler
4 months ago

About 1961, a neighbor of mine had a 1954 Plymouth with the Hy-Drive transmission. I never understood it, but I think that it had a three-speed manual transmission with a torque converter. There was a clutch pedal, which was only used when you were starting off from a stop, then gears cold be shifter without using the clutch. It was weird, but I would have loved to have it instead of my bicycle. It was his high school car and, IIRC, he bought it for $125, the same amount that I would pay for a Cushman scooter a year later.

KC Murphy
KC Murphy
4 months ago
Reply to  Codfangler

My 1966 Chevy had a similar feature. It was a three-on-the-tree with a freewheel mode. You only needed the clutch to start off (or stopping.) For 1-2 and 2-3, you’d let off the gas and glide the shift into the next gear, then a centrifugal clutch would grab when you hit the gas again.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
4 months ago

Let’s not forget how, to this day, automakers can’t agree on which direction +/- should go on the console shifter. (The correct answer is – is forward and + is rearward, just like in a racecar. When you’re accelerating, the forces are rearward, making the pull in the same direction as the acceleration force, rather than counter to it. Under braking, your hand naturally wants to go forward for the downshift).
Example: https://youtu.be/wZsm7xmSN2I?si=wrJmHtouXT88AmT1

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
4 months ago

That’s similar thinking to the classic motorcycle foot shifter. You push up to downshift, which moves your foot away from the road when leaning into a turn, and pushing dow for upshifts applies more force when shifting under load.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Down is up, up is down is “classic”?

I had only heard of motorcycles having shift patterns like “one down, four up” and “all up” until I bought a Kawasaki three wheeler that’s backwards shifting like you are describing.

Just to be confusing, I have one Yamaha three wheeler that’s up for upshifts and one Kawasaki three wheeler that’s down for upshifts. Gets confusing sometimes when switching bikes. I much prefer up for up and down for down, less complicated.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
4 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

English bikes with right side shifters were typically 1 up 3 down and IIRC the Kawasaki H1 and H2 had neutral at the top and 1-5 down. This all changed in the early 70s when US regulations required a left side shifter, 1 down 3-whatever up.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
4 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

I think that’s true for a track bike, but many road bikes do it backwards. So, seems like the same condition there!

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
4 months ago

What?!@#!? No love for the Hurst-Olds Lightning Rod transmission?!!!?

My 1984 Hurst Olds – Lightning Rod Shifters (youtube.com)

Rick Dalghren
Rick Dalghren
4 months ago

I owned a 1972 Karmann Ghia convertible w/this shifter. It was great. The only problem was your right knee could activate the shifter and it went into neutral. It was eventually fixed with a less sensitive vacuum relay. After selling it 40 years ago, I still think I should have kept it.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Rick Dalghren

The nice thing with the Karmann Ghia’s blistering engine is you couldn’t really tell whether you were in gear or in neutral.

Clark B
Clark B
4 months ago

And we can’t forget the VW Automatic Stickshift offered in the 70s. I’ve never driven one, but I have ridden in one and it was smoother than I thought it would be. Can’t imagine it made the most out of the 50hp engines it was bolted to though. There was a low range for hill starts, but normally you would just use the two forward gears. If you opted for the autostick, you got a fancy script on your decklid that proudly proclaimed that you had moved up in the world with an “Automatic Stickshift” badge.

Tiptronic transmissions from the early 2000s weren’t that great either. My ex’s Passat had one and you would click to shift…and after some consideration, the transmission would oblige. My fiancees mom has an early 2000s Audi TT which is completely let down by the transmission, for the same reason as the Passat. It’s like shifting by fax, or something. I was also disappointed by the manual mode on my fiancees 2018 Mazda3. Again, it’s just too slow to be any fun.

Last edited 4 months ago by Clark B
Brooks Fancher
Brooks Fancher
4 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

We had one growing up and it was one of the cars that I learned to drive in. It was not bad, but some of the hills and mountains around here were problematic. Down in the valley, it worked fine. My mother eventually got tired of having trouble climbing the steep hill going to work and bought a 1970 Torino Brougham and sold the Bug to this guy with a artificial prosthetic left leg who was quite delighted to get it.

KC Murphy
KC Murphy
4 months ago
Reply to  Brooks Fancher

VW had a commercial for the Automatic Stick Shift based on this very premise, although it is a bit problematic with the Charlie Chan-inspired detective….
https://youtu.be/gbBfDOPeZ2g?si=7KlPSvhZmOlWyoWo

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
4 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

I’ve drive a VW Automatic Stickshift once, and it was easier to figure out than a Citroën 2CV shifter. The Porsche Sportomatic was the same system an extra gear and Formula Vee racers liked the Automatic Stickshift because they could left foot brake.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago

The holy grail of manumatic/semi-automatic method of getting a bunch of neutrals is the special Valeo transmission fitted to the one-off Testarossa Spider built for Gianni Agnelli. It has the Valeo semi-auto but push a button and a clutch pedal appears for full manual shifting.
God that man had it all.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
4 months ago

Manumatic, mechatronic… I’m learning all kinds of new marketing terms today.

InvivnI
InvivnI
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Mechatronics is actually a recognised engineering discipline alongside the more traditional mechanical/electrical/civil disciplines.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago

Any vacuum actuated system is eventually going to suck.

Mollusk
Mollusk
4 months ago

Any vacuum actuated system is eventually going to not suck. FIFY.

Last edited 4 months ago by Mollusk
MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
4 months ago
Reply to  Mollusk

So it sucks when it doesn’t suck but doesn’t suck when it sucks. Got it.

FloorMatt
FloorMatt
4 months ago

On the subject of transmissions in EVs, the Taycan has the two-speed rear with a huge jump between the two ratios. While it is, no doubt, objectively stupid to use in any other way than how it is used (i.e. sport mode only, get up and go torque, automatically controlled by the car), it also slaps. The thing is fun. I want to shift it myself. This is stupid, yes, but the WHOLE CAR IS STUPID, so toss me that bone? I don’t want to think about how expensive it is, or how much unreliability it probably adds. I want to feel that rear-biased shove, and hear those motors whining at different speeds like a field full of helicopters starting up. Except when I want to, you know, get someplace more than 150 miles away. We can totally have cool transmissions in EVs with cool chassis, the market for it just needs to exist.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago

I love talking about all the weird manumatics. I find the technology fascinating for some reason, particularly in the 90s and early to mid 2000s. It’s fun to look back and see how hard manufacturers swung and missed. As soon as I saw this article the first thing that came to mind is the infamous Jaguar J Gate and as always The Autopian did not let me down.

Like…respectfully, who the fuck thought that was a good idea? I’m interested in your “Tiptronic isn’t that bad” take as well because in most Porsche circles folks really seem to deride it and it absolutely wrecks the value of the cars it’s in. I’ll see decent enough 986 Boxsters with them for 4 figures all the time…and I toyed with the idea of buying a 997 911 with one before I got my Kona N.

A local dealership had a really nice, accident free, well maintained one with 40,000 miles for sale in the low 40s and I almost went out to look at it before my wife reiterated her unwavering NO COUPES stance. The steering wheel mounted buttons have always been downright bizarre to me, and something that people forget is that the first gen PDKs didn’t have normal paddles either, they also had buttons on the front of the steering wheel. Weird stuff, especially from a company like Porsche that doesn’t usually miss.

I don’t think this counts for our discussion since there’s no torque converter but this was also when VW introduced DSG, which was a pretty big game changer. IMHO DCTs have always been the best implementation of sporty/shiftable automatics if you can deal with the jerkiness/lack of refinement at low speeds.

My current and last car both have DCTs because I live in DC and have to deal with some of the worst traffic in the entire country…but I’m one of those rare sickos who actually takes manual control pretty frequently and enjoys it. That was actually a really selling point of the Kona N for me….when you ask for control you get it. It’ll let you bounce it off the redline, pull reckless downshifts off, etc no questions asked.

Sadly I think DCTs’ time has come and gone because the benefits don’t outweigh the compromises for most normal folks, but I’ll always appreciate them and am grateful for the little bit of extra engagement they give me over normal autos. There are DOZENS of us! DOZENS!

Anyway I’m intrigued by the new direct shift transmission Toyota is about to unveil for the GR Yaris. They’ve actually put a lot of time and thought into it and I assume it’ll find its way to the GRC…and if that’s the case I’ll definitely go test drive it….and hopefully it also finds its way to the Toyobaru twins because they deserve an auto option that isn’t total ass even though I personally wouldn’t buy one in anything but stick.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
4 months ago

My one and only experience with a DCT was the infamous DDCT in my Fiat 500L — and I loved it. I too am one of those weirdos who is always shifting my automatics for better control, and a DCT just fits naturally with that kind of usage. Fiat’s choice to use a dry clutch is arguably what got them into trouble, although I should say that I had no issues with mine at all — by the time I bought my car, there had been two TSBs applied to improve the DDCT.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago

Either you frequently transport more than two people of limited agility, or your wife has a terrible prejudice.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

She’s pregnant with our first kiddo and we have a medium sized dog. That being said some of it is a little silly and I’ve already told her that once the kids are the right size to jump in the back of a coupe all bets are off.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago

That actually seems fair, from both of you. Pregnant women and newborn children definitely count as people of limited agility.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
4 months ago

The Ferrari F1 (and later F1A) manumatic tranny’s were similar to the original British one, in that you still had a clutch, but you either used the paddle shifters to change gears (and the clutch was handled by the computer) or you could put it in automatic mode, where it would shift itself.

And I’m surprised by no mention of the Doug Nash 4+3 monstrosity in the Corvette.

David Tracy
David Tracy
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

I’m obsessed with the Doug Nash!

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
4 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Does Doug know?

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
4 months ago

I have a 2012 Kia Soul where I can nudge the gearshift right and manually select the gears. I think I’ve accidently put it into manual mode more often than I’ve intentionally done so. I get the fun of it on a sports car but how many people use it beyond the first week or two on a run of the mill vehicle.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
4 months ago

No love for the Hurst His&Hers (unfortunately named)?
When I bought my ’06 Charger, I let the “Autostick” feature talk me into buying an automatic for the first time in years and I ended up never using it. Even after riding a motorcycle for a couple of years, I just didn’t enjoy doing a +/- thing to get to whatever gear I wanted. I’m more surprised we never got more automatics with an H-pattern – that would be awesome. And I’ll be that could be done electronically now without having to carve the big H into the console.

Parsko
Parsko
4 months ago

In 1993/1994 I had the opportunity to drive in a Mustang modified by Magnetti Marelli’s Detroit division to automate the manual gearbox. It worked quite well on the test drive I rode in.

MiniDave
MiniDave
4 months ago

Porsche also had the “Sportomatic” in the 1970’s, which was pretty much the same arrangement as the VW Autostick, it was a torque converter automatic in which you had to manually change gears. You could start out in 3rd, but it was OMG slow to get rolling.

My 2009 MINI Clubman S has I think the same setup as the BMW’s of that era, a button on the wheel that you push to downshift, lever on the back of the wheel that you pull to upshift…..it’s the same on both sides of the steering wheel and it’s very easy to use – but just in case that confuses you (like it does my buddy in his Countryman) you also can just use S mode, which holds the downshifts, starts in 2nd and not 1st, and won’t shift into 6th no matter how fast you go, OR you can use the shifter in manual mode – push forward for downshifts and back for up shifts.

Nah……it’s not complicated at all……

Last edited 4 months ago by MiniDave
ProfPlum
ProfPlum
4 months ago
Reply to  MiniDave

I once owned a brown Sport-o-matic 911. What I remember the most was how touchy the switch in the shift lever was; I had to learn not to rest my hand on the shifter when not shifting. It’s another car in a long line of them that I wish I still had; they were rare.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
4 months ago

The J-gate not allowing you to bypass lower gears sounds maddening. The main reason I would use any manual shifting mode on an automatic was to use second gear in snow and ice.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
4 months ago

Yep. One of the features I really appreciated in the C4 automatic in my Cougar was that if you put the lever in ‘2’ it was in second, period. No downshifting, no upshifting. Very useful for managing traction in ice and snow, as you mentioned.

MiniDave
MiniDave
4 months ago

I’m not 100% sure, but I think I remember the Jags had a “snow mode” that started in 2nd.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
4 months ago

The third gen MR2 also had a funky manumatic option. The transmission itself was more like a manual in the sense that it had a clutch that was computer controlled. You could shift with either the gear stick or the paddle shifters but you had to pick one because there was no fully automatic drive option

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
4 months ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

I’ve seen those! They’re profoundly weird and significantly slower than the manual equipped cars. As you might imagine they’re also worth less, but in its heyday I get the impression that it it was a real selling point to try to woo more affluent buyers since manumatics (mainly SMGs) were all the rage in high end and exotic cars.

It was a chance for Toyota to be like LOOK! We have an EXOTIC transmission option! Which is a little strange to think about in retrospect since making good automatics has never really been a priority for them ever since.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago

I want to say the Diamond-Star cars used the side-to-side, right?

I once spent a decent amount of time in a third gen (i.e. the one everyone hates) Mitsubishi Eclipse and I recall it having it, and once I got used to it, it made driving fairly fun for what it was. It kinda replicated the traditional manual one-hand-off-the-wheel feel of the activity.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
4 months ago

We have a tractor at work that is a manumatic, An older International 8600. It has a clutch and a digital gear selector

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
4 months ago

My ’98 Stratus ES had the auto-stick. I think I used it maybe four times the first week I owned the car.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
4 months ago

How did this article get through Torch’s review without mention of the VW Autostick?

Data
Data
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

I assumed other than the historical bit on the origin of the term, it was referencing more modern interpretations.

I briefly owned a 72 Ghia with an Autostick circa 1997. I occasionally regret selling it, especially based on current Ghia prices.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

He was tripping

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
4 months ago

I still have the tap to the sides manual option on my 2012 Jeep Wrangler and only ever use it to stay in 1 or 2 off road.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

My father purchased a ’23 Grand Cherokee, and it has them (and a “sport” driving mode no less). Feels so odd to me for a full-size SUV, but I get it’s part of the bells and whistles people expect now.

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
4 months ago

Thomas! You forgot the Lexus steering wheel buttons on the front and back of the steering wheel, as popularly seen in the IS300 and GS300 and GS430 of the early 2000s!

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

I ended up manual-swapping my IS300 Sportcross so I wouldn’t have to deal with the dumb buttons.

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

My girlfriend’s brother had just moved into a new shop in ’05 I think, so in exchange for helping put up the lifts, he spent a weekend helping me swap in the trans/pedal box/driveshaft/diff and computer from a wrecked IS300 manual. That worked surprisingly well, though we never could get the cruise control to function properly, as the manual and automatic used very different speed sensors, apparently. I drive that car until the second gear synchro let go and made the transmission mad enough to break the case. I sold the car to the Lexus service manager, bought a WRX, and I’ve seen it around the city as recently as 3 years ago.

I miss that Lexus sometimes. I almost bought another manual IS300 form the state auction, but got outbid at the last minute for it. Cool as it was, I wasn’t going to pay $8K for that particular one.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bearddevil
Fourmotioneer
Fourmotioneer
4 months ago

Thomas – I don’t understand your hierarchy of perceived quality based on nationality. It’s such a Top Gear in the 2000s perspective

Fourmotioneer
Fourmotioneer
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

I don’t think you actually reviewed any reliability data. I do think that you just repeated the classic trope. To me it’s just generalizing based on stereotypes of Italian or Japanese culture (in this article).

Subaru head gaskets, Toyota pickup frame rust, Takata airbags…I don’t think these fit into your narrative.

Italian brands topped the JD power quality list this year (less applicable to the piece you wrote).

Would appreciate more evidence (vs “history” and “historical experience”)

Fourmotioneer
Fourmotioneer
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

Right, and that’s not what you included in the article. Your comment is a lot more useful than what you included in the post.

That said, it doesn’t address my continued frustration with how you (and American media…) have portrayed the “Italianness” of Italian brands.

Go back and look at your post about the CD changer location and please tell me that your perspective is based on historical data vs. repeated stereotypes.

“Maserati…well, Maserati’s Italian”. It’s not a matter of offense – no need to approach from any angle of -isms, it’s just lazy in my opinion.

I’m not naiive here – my Maserati Coupe GT literally paid for itself when the window regulator broke because I sell window regulator repair kits for Maserati M138 / Alfa 916 – but I think there’s a little too much generalizing going on here. Again, look at your CD changer article

64
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x