When I was in Britain this summer I could detect, but could not define some subtle quality of English teens that made them potentially superior to American teens. They seemed to be equally as interested in their phones, Taylor Swift, and conversing too loudly as our kids. Now, thanks to a newly published survey, I know what it is: Way more of them will reportedly be buying cars with manual transmissions.
I’m on dangerous ground here, as encouraging the Brits to hold onto anachronistic or ahistorical notions is something I generally try not to do. They’re pretty good at doing that for themselves.
But a manual transmission is actually the kind of anachronism I think we can all support. God Save The Manuals!
According to a survey performed by the British driving school Young Driver for the purposes of generating press coverage, about 98% of British 16-year-olds planned on getting a used car. This makes sense. Cars are expensive and giving a kid a new car isn’t always financially wise. Here are the full stats:
Almost two thirds of the respondents (64%) said the new driver would have their own car when they passed their test – with 8% already having one lined up. One in three (29%) said the new driver would solely have use of their parent’s car to begin with. Only 3% would have no access to a vehicle.
Of the new drivers who will be getting a car, the Young Driver research revealed that:
- 98% will get a used vehicle
- 84% will get a petrol, 12% diesel and 4% electric
- 92% will get a manual
When asked how much they were likely to spend on a new car, only 4% said they planned on forking out more than £10,000. Seven percent were looking at cars under £1,000, with the average amount, from all the responses, being £4,124. In 60% of cases the car would be bought by a parent or other family member, and for 40% it would be the driver themselves.
I also think the average car cost of £4,124 also makes sense (because of the skidding GBP that’s about $5,000). The diesel take rate is way higher than what you’d find in the United States, but that’s just a result of the number of diesels available.
What I’m obviously interested in is that 92% will get a manual transmission. That’s a big number, even for Britain. According to this report in U.S. News and World Report, automatics outpaced manual sales in the United Kingdom for the first time ever, but there was an even more interesting stat:
But statistics from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency prove the trend is real. Last year, out of the 1.6 million driving tests it administered, 202,506 were taken in automatics, or 12.7% of the total. That may seem like a negligible amount, but it’s an increase of more than 90% from just five years ago.
I think you can take the number of kids who take a test with a manual as a sign of how many kids think they’ll need to know how to drive a car with a stick shift and, one could argue, the increased number of electric cars negates that reality. Still, you gotta live in the present.
The company doesn’t provide a ton of insight into the methodology, but surveying 16-year-olds currently taking driver’s ed courses makes a lot of sense to me.
If I had to guess what’s going on here, a lot of this is just the reality of buying a cheap car in the United Kingdom. A brief search of AutoTrader UK shows that, of about 50,000 used cars for sale under £5,000, approximately 80% are equipped with manual transmissions.
Also, one of them is this car. Hell yeah.
I can just picture some cool-ass British 17-year-old named Nigel or Gemma or something, smoking a John Player Special while bumping Let’s Eat Grandma in that sweet, sweet (and only slightly chavy) Subaru Impreza.