Why did people spec auto on performance cars?

Why did people spec auto on performance cars?

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Discussion

Raygun

Original Poster:

3,413 posts

75 months

Wednesday 24th June
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For many years now (at least 40 years) I've always thought performance cars should have manual gearboxes, we've had tiptronic, auto etc but s/h it's always manual that commands a premium. I just don't understand why anyone buying a performance car with an option of a manual gearbox would not tick that box on a spec sheet?

Jamescrs

1,020 posts

20 months

Wednesday 24th June
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I agree with you I would always opt for a manual box on a performance car, although I accept that more recently the DSG type boxes are very good.

Leys look at Porsche 911 for example of circa 2000, I use that example as I keep looking at them. I strongly suspect with this type of car when they were new a lot of people bought them simply because it was a Porsche 911 and they liked the look of it and wanted to be seen driving one rather than anything to do with it's performance. for that type of buyer an auto is probably preferable to a manual.

I think the same probably still stands for many other makes and models..

2 GKC

774 posts

60 months

Wednesday 24th June
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Because they want an auto? What a strange question

CanAm

5,476 posts

227 months

Wednesday 24th June
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Porsche fitted PDK gearboxes to their Le Mans cars through choice. All F1 cars now have similar gearboxes. They're faster and more idiot-proof.

I wouldn't have chosen the old Tiptronic boxes, but I can see why people now go for modern automatics.

swampy442

622 posts

166 months

Wednesday 24th June
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There will be a time when manual boxes will only be available on only the cheapest cars. Auto's and semi auto's are easier to use and faster in every situation, its called progress.

heebeegeetee

26,938 posts

203 months

Wednesday 24th June
quotequote all
2 GKC said:
Because they want an auto? What a strange question
Well the op has explained why he’s asking the question, therefore I understand why he’s asking. The puzzle for me is that he mentions being around for 40 years, so he’ll know that ‘auto’ used to mean 3-speed slush-matic.

He knows that modern auto boxes bear no relation, and indeed they make for a faster car, so if you want the faster version of your performance car then really there’s no choice.

If the purchaser wants to buy into some sort of perceived correlation with motor sport, he/she possibly isn’t thinking of historic motorsport. Indeed thinking a bit more about it, outside the sphere of classic and historic cars, and the remaining old school car enthusiasts, does the manual gearbox exist anymore?

Auto used to be the slow and inefficient option, now the manual gearbox is. I guess there are many who wouldn’t even see why they would choose manual.

I will say though, that for me, it’s not so much the existence of a gearstick that’s the issue, more the clutch pedal, because that really does now seem an antiquated method of operation, and the world really has moved on.

nordboy

50 posts

5 months

Wednesday 24th June
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swampy442 said:
There will be a time when manual boxes will only be available on only the cheapest cars. Auto's and semi auto's are easier to use and faster in every situation, its called progress.
This...

How many racecars etc have manual boxes these days? My Q may be, why would you NOT spec auto? They all have the manual mode/ paddles, so you can still change your own gears, just much quicker than everyone with a manual gearbox.

Phil Dicky

6,075 posts

218 months

Wednesday 24th June
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For me, if I could justify a ae one car for high fays and holidays it would be manual, probally yet another TVR smile.
However these days my car needs to cover my daily duties and speed when it can. An auto fits that role.much better. Although my current car doesn't cover the speed aspect that well.laugh

wisbech

1,482 posts

76 months

Wednesday 24th June
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Or they expect to do almost all their driving in a city, so auto is much less tiring to drive. I lived in HK for a long time, and a manual car there would be terrible.

Bobtherallyfan

361 posts

33 months

Wednesday 24th June
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My wife has a dodgy ankle so when we were speccing a new 911 we went for PDK to make sure she could drive it. I would have chosen a manual but figured I’d simply slip the PDK into manual mode and use the gear lever to change gear.

Did that on the first drive. Since then it’s been in full auto mode...the changes are so instantaneous that manual intervention seems utterly pointless.

CRA1G

4,220 posts

150 months

Wednesday 24th June
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Over the years (many of them) my preference has changed from Manual to Auto but I still have both for example my E46 M3 had to be Manual over the smg....driving

ESD1711

110 posts

6 months

Wednesday 24th June
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Raygun said:
.... s/h it's always manual that commands a premium.... is it?
Not sure that’s always the case at all.

Take a Golf R as an obvious example and compare manual prices vs DSG.

swampy442

622 posts

166 months

Wednesday 24th June
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CRA1G said:
had to be Manual over the smg....driving
..... beacuse the early SMG was awful lol

Pit Pony

2,782 posts

76 months

Wednesday 24th June
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At 18, I said "Kill me, when I want a car with cruise control. An automatic gearbox and cup holders.

At 49, after a particularly bad return journey to Cardiff from Liverpool, which meant I spent 9 hours in 2 days doing 440 miles, much of which was spent at 5 mph, I decided to tick 2 of those boxes. I bought an old 3.2 4 speed auto Omega with cruise control.
Luckily the cup holders are pointless, and therefore I'm not ready to be killed yet.
As I said to my wife, when she asked me about cup holders, "you don't need cup holders- or a hands free phone, because you have a spare hand"
In all my 36 years of driving, it's the best car ive ever owned. Enough power that the auto has no impact to the driving experience. And it may not be a sports car, but i can see that if I ever did buy a sports car, it might be an auto.

s m

19,227 posts

158 months

Wednesday 24th June
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As well as preferring manual to drive I’d personally hunt out manual on second hand cars as they seem less problematic out of warranty and easier to fix yourself
Maybe the new ones are more reliable but people at work seem to have had some expensive issues with 10 year old plus non manual boxes

hungry_hog

1,157 posts

143 months

Wednesday 24th June
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Autos have improved so much. If we take Porsche, BMW as "volume" examples.

The tiptronic on 993, 996, 997.1 wasn't great. Same goes for the SMG of E46 / E60.

Once the 977.2 / e90 M3 generation of cars was released (around 10-12 years ago) they had improved enough that they became the default.

In addition, manufacturers are chasing Nurburgring lap times, partly for marketing purposes. There is no doubt a fast auto is quicker for circuits.

If you think about it:
modern day to day => auto
circuit => auto

So the only time a manual is appropriate is maybe a B road blast, but how many people get the chance to do that these days, with all the traffic and cameras.

Mr Whippy

22,558 posts

196 months

Wednesday 24th June
quotequote all
nordboy said:
swampy442 said:
There will be a time when manual boxes will only be available on only the cheapest cars. Auto's and semi auto's are easier to use and faster in every situation, its called progress.
This...

How many racecars etc have manual boxes these days? My Q may be, why would you NOT spec auto? They all have the manual mode/ paddles, so you can still change your own gears, just much quicker than everyone with a manual gearbox.
It’s not about speed though.

It’s about fun in a sports car.

It’s like having a red hot date and being over and done with fast as if that’s better, and without as much fun/stuff to do with your hands.


Instead we get speakers that play rorty noises at us, or daft overrun pops and bangs.

I won’t do the analogy again but, again, it’s all superfluous nonsense.


That’s not to say an automatic can’t be fun... but I bet a manual of that car would be more fun.
Just the market is so narrow it’s rarely profitable.

The market is narrow because most people buy cars to look good in, not to drive.

CanAm

5,476 posts

227 months

Wednesday 24th June
quotequote all
Pit Pony said:
At 49, after a particularly bad return journey to Cardiff from Liverpool, which meant I spent 9 hours in 2 days doing 440 miles, much of which was spent at 5 mph, I decided to tick 2 of those boxes. I bought an old 3.2 4 speed auto Omega with cruise control.
I used to do such a journey every weekend in an automatic V6 Omega. Auto was bliss on the M25/M6 (!)
Plus it was the most comfortable car I've ever driven

Raygun

Original Poster:

3,413 posts

75 months

Wednesday 24th June
quotequote all
CanAm said:
I wouldn't have chosen the old Tiptronic boxes, but I can see why people now go for modern automatics.
I reckon that's what happened before though example being a F430 Ferrari, the paddle-shift was seen as the way to go as it was straight off the Formula 1 race cars but as normal that technology gets superseded by something else whilst the good old manual remains the most desirable.

Dog Star

11,389 posts

123 months

Wednesday 24th June
quotequote all
Do you still want acetylene lights and a starting handle - and damn those radial tyres - and crossply tyres OP?

Technology moves on. The smoothness and speed of a present day auto box is such that I really cannot see why anyone would want a manual - manufacturers obviously know what they're up to.