There may be hope for muscle cars after all. Some of the defining traits of a muscle car are its sound, and the ability to actually drive it, via a manual transmission. The all-electric future that we are seemingly headed for puts manual transmission cars’ existence into danger. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that manual transmission sales were down to their lowest point in 2021, not even 1% of vehicles sold were manual. Since then however, the trend has taken an upward spike. Since 2021 manual transmission automobiles have jumped over 80% signaling a sudden comeback. Data from J.D. Power reported by The Wall Street Journal reveals all the details on the (slight) resurgence of the stick shift.
The data shows the spike from last year to this year was 41.7% where manual transmission cars accounted for 1.2% of all sales last year. 1.2% of anything doesn’t sound like a lot but when you take into consideration there are reports of total sales topping 13.9 million in the U.S. 1.2% of that would be 166,800. There are supercars with production numbers lower than that now. In 2021, manual transmission sales topped out at a measly 0.9% and compared to today’s 1.7% of manual’s sold, that’s a spike of 88.9%, and this year isn’t even half way over yet.
As far as American muscle car, trucks and SUVs go, a standard manual transmission can be found just about everywhere. From GM, there’s the Chevrolet Camaro family, Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, and Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing. At Ford, there’s the 2024 Mustang GT and Dark Horse, as well as the Ford Bronco SUV with a standard stick shift. At Stellantis, we see it in the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Gladiator, and Dodge Challenger Hellcat. All of these vehicles are a blast to drive in their proper elements.
Sales are one metric to look at but Autotrader is reporting that used car buyers are looking at manual cars at greater volume than before as well. According to The Wall Street Journal’s report, the website has totaled a 13% increase in page views for stick shift cars compared to last year citing the “20-something’s” as the main seekers for a more analog ride. To quote Jay Leno, you just can’t beat the “visceral” feel of driving a car, or truck, with a manual transmission. There seems to be hope for manual transmissions after all and while not extinct yet, the younger generations interest may prolong their inevitable goodbye.