Why Is Paddle Shift Killing the Manual Transmission, and is it a good thing?

Paddle Shift vs Manual 2015

I am someone who has publicly lamented the decline of the manual transmission. But I’m also someone who has enjoyed the merits of modern paddle shift gearboxes in many different cars.

I find myself very much split on this issue.  So lets take a look at the various reasons why shifter paddles are replacing a gear lever and a third pedal in some of our favorite cars, and consider if it really is a good thing or not.

Note: To clear this up right away, by “paddle shift” I mean cars with automated manual gearboxes, either dual-clutch or single-clutch. I am in no way talking about anything like a Toyota Camry with the “sport package”, which has paddle shifters as a marketing gimmick.

1. More versatile on the road. (Having your cake and eating it too)

If you had something like a Lamborghini Diablo back in the mid 1990s chances are you had a lot of fun out on the open road. However, when you got into town and hit traffic, the heavy clutch made driving the car more of a $250,000 chore than an enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon. Considering the average speed of traffic on most roads is around 25-30mph, you’d be spending far more time putting along slowly than stretching the car’s legs. It’s a wonder why most owners hardly ever drove their exotic cars.

Today, Lamborghini only offers their cars with a paddle shift transmission. The sales numbers spoke for themselves. Once paddle shift was offered back around 2004, demand for manual Lambos simply fell off.

Paddle shift basically solved all the issues described above with the Diablo. Now, in an Aventador, you can rip your way into town and then just put the car in automatic mode when you hit traffic. You have a car that is a ferocious supercar when you want one, but is also just as easy to drive as a Toyota Camry when you don’t. You are no longer writing a six-figure check to put yourself through misery. And I agree, that is a major plus, especially in cars that had very difficult manual gearboxes like most supercars did.

Continue reading Why Is Paddle Shift Killing the Manual Transmission, and is it a good thing?

Favorites from Vipers and Exotics for Victoria in Edison, NJ

Dodge Viper Whiparound Shot

My weekend of car shows in Middlesex County, NJ did not stop with the Elks Lodge show. I had been invited to attend the Vipers and Exotics for Victoria show at the local Quaker Steak and Lube down in Edison, NJ by my friend Schen–who was helping to run the event. Schen’s a huge Viper and Mopar fan and I was more than happy to attend and take some pictures. This was a charity event for the daughter of the restaurant’s regional manager, who has a brain disease that needs immediate treatment. All of the entry fees at the show went towards treatment for Victoria.

The people who I met on Sunday were incredible–the show was run tightly and felt very organized. A great contingency of Mopar faithful showed up in late-model Chargers and Challengers, while the Viper club sent along a few people too. Two particularly loud representatives of muscle past and present showed up too–a Shelby Cobra continuation car turned up, shortly after a McLaren-Mercedes SLR roared into the parking lot and set of every car alarm on the way out. All in all, it was a very enjoyable Sunday morning. Enjoy the photos. Continue reading Favorites from Vipers and Exotics for Victoria in Edison, NJ

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Looks Proper

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Chevy just released the new Camaro hot on the heels of the new Ford Mustang, and it’s fixin’ to whoop it up somethin’ fierce!

I like to think of the modern muscle car as a sort of “blue-collar grand tourer”, and the current/previous Camaro was a great example of what such a modern muscle car should be like. That is to say it has to have speed, style, and comfort, and while it may be a heavy car, it should handle it’s weight well in corners. The Camaro already did all of that splendidly, so GM really just needed to build upon an already good car.

Looking at the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and its finer details, it definitely seems like GM has taken the route of improving on a good thing rather than reinventing the wheel.

Continue reading The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Looks Proper

2015 Elks Lodge Car Show (Lodge 2414) General Gallery

2014 Super Snake

This past Saturday, I was in a conundrum. I knew that the local Elks Lodge up the street was putting on a car show, but I wasn’t sure if they’d let me put my Miata in the show. I decided to just drive it over and see what would happen. I was the first guy to show up in an imported car (there was already a Toyota Truck in the show) but they let me in for a few bucks and I gladly obliged, hiding the Miata, in all its scratched-up, four-cylinder glory, in between a few Corvettes. For my efforts, I was rewarded third in class for import cars–which came with a nice $25 gift certificate to the local Italian establishment, Mama Rosina’s.

In all, this was a very well-done show. While the variety of cars was a bit limited, the people made this a very friendly, neighborhood-type show, with people from all over the local area coming out to show off their best cars. We had everything from a 1956 Bel Air (that was all original and awaiting restoration) to a late-model Maserati GranTurismo, C7 Stingray, and a 2014 Super Snake that shook the ground on startup. Enjoy the photos from Riverside Park in Piscataway, New Jersey. Continue reading 2015 Elks Lodge Car Show (Lodge 2414) General Gallery

Ford Mustang: Old Pro-Tourer vs New GT 5.0

/Drive’s Matt Farah compares a classic Pro-Tourer modded Mustang called “The Villain” against the brand new 2015 Ford Mustang GT with the 5.0L Coyote V8 in it and a proper stick shift

Would you spend $150,000 to have your own “Villain” retro Mustang? Would you spend $35,000-$40,000 to have a new Mustang GT? The cars are in two totally different markets, naturally, but it’s something to consider.

I’ve never been a huge Mustang guy, myself, but I must admit that black over red 2015 GT 5.0 in the video did make me drool a bit. As for the resto-mod ‘Stang, it’s definitely cool as all hell, but it’s not how I’d spend my own $150,000 because I’m a fiend for exotics. That said, I can totally see it being worthwhile for anyone who really loves muscle cars, and wants a quality resto-mod they can actually thrash.

Think about something like the Singer 911, though, how badass would it be if a company started building custom classic Mustangs like that. Classic Recreations, who makes “The Villain” seems to be trying that idea out a bit, so I wish them much success.



1969 Plymouth Hemi Roadrunner at the 2015 Boca Raton Concours

1969 Plymouth Road Runner Front 1

When it comes to the Plymouth Road Runner, it’s hard for me to ignore even the ones that don’t look very loud–because the plain-Jane appearance of the ones that look quiet disguises the screamer that lies underneath the skin. The case of this triple-black ’69 model is a study in that field, as it packs the monster motor that muscle cars like me lust after–the 426 Hemi.

Plymouth had a hit on its hands with the Road Runner. It was rather inexpensive for its time (starting at around 3 grand, a low price for a muscle car) but offered the 426 as an option for those with the wallet and the guts to handle what Mopar guys have referred to as the “Elephant Motor”. This particular car was found as a race car and restored back to stock specifications. Not only that, but it won its class at Boca and looked pretty intimidating in the process. Enjoy the photos of this 4-speed equipped Hemi Road Runnner, one of only 234 two-door sedans equipped that way. Continue reading 1969 Plymouth Hemi Roadrunner at the 2015 Boca Raton Concours

Hypercar History (1950s-1980s)

Early Hypercar History

What is a hypercar? A hypercar is a supercar among supercars.

What is a supercar? A supercar is a faster, more extreme sports car.

What is a sports car? A sports car is a driving-focused machine in purpose with transportation being a secondary concern.

That is a very simplified rundown of the status that hypercars have in the world of automobiles. Supercars are what most people dream about, hypercars are what supercar owners dream about. They are the automobile fully turned up to eleven!

But where did it all begin, and how has this ultimate class of cars developed over time? Let’s go back to the 1950s.

Continue reading Hypercar History (1950s-1980s)

Petrolicious: Sir Stirling Moss and the Mercedes 300 SLR 722

In another serious gem of a video by Petrolicious, we are taken back to the 1955 Mille Miglia with non other than Sir Stirling Moss himself, who won the race with his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR #722.

This was really the golden era of racing when everything was still allowed to be excessively dangerous. The Mille Miglia, a one thousand mile race on the public streets of Italy, was probably the most notorious race of the age. Moss finished the race in just 10 hours and 7 minutes setting the all time record for the race, which has never been beaten.

You have to understand the context to appreciate the enormity of his achievement, and to appreciate just how awesome a car the Mercedes 300 SLR is, even by modern standards. Officially, the roads were all closed, but Italy being Italy, that meant absolutely nothing. So it was basically a 1000 mile sanctioned street race, dodging trucks and much slower pedestrian traffic. The speeds were also no joke either, 150-160mph was routinely reached by Moss in his SLR, and he even talks about getting airborne at those speeds. Also keep in mind that this was all back in the mid 1950s with tire and braking technology from the era. Most modern cars, with modern technology, cannot stop or maneuver well at 160mph, but the 300 SLR could do it back then… at least well enough that it is still in one piece.

Enjoy this video. Moss is one of the most legendary drivers of all time, and the 300 SLR is probably the most epic car Mercedes-Benz has ever made.


The Cadillac Mirage–it’s a real Mirage, until you see it.

Back in the mid 1970s, Cadillac was at the top of the throne in terms of American luxury, just before their kingdom crumbled to bits of rust, diesel engines, and Cimarrons. But before that, they were pretty much King Louis XIV. If you wanted a luxurious automobile with enough glitz to rival Las Vegas, Miami, and Hollywood combined, you spoke to your Cadillac guy. Here, Big Muscle host Mike Musto shows us something called the Cadillac Mirage, a converted Coupe DeVille with a pickup bed, and so much American schmaltz that I can’t help but wonder just who would buy something so insanely American. Wait a minute–I’m looking at myself. I’ll let the honorable Mr. Musto take it from here. Enjoy the video.

-Albert S. Davis


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,954 other followers

%d bloggers like this: