Putting the “man” in “manumatic”

I tend to think of automatic transmissions with a manual shift gate as being a relatively recent innovation; I never drove one until a couple of years ago, when my Infiniti was in the shop and the dealership lent me a G35 to play with. It did not occur to me that these things go back more than four decades:

Dual Gate by Hurst

Now you see the sexism inherent in the system, circa 1964. (And the flip side of it: I add extra crush points for women who can drive a stick.)

I used to have a mid-60s Chevrolet, but it had a two-speed Powerglide. On the column.

(Via John’s Old Car and Truck Ads.)


 Tweet this


  1. vanderleun »

    6 June 2010 · 11:01 am

    Now that’s an interesting ad on so many levels…..

  2. CGHill »

    6 June 2010 · 11:40 am

    Not least of which is that H-U-R-S-T is a lot bigger than P-N-D-S-L-R. (Nowadays, of course, everyone starts the quadrant with P-R-N, presumably to keep you from shifting into reverse without first going through neutral.)

  3. Charles Pergiel »

    6 June 2010 · 3:19 pm

    I tried reading the text:

  4. scooby214 »

    6 June 2010 · 4:25 pm

    The closest thing I have driven to a manumatic is my old ’74 VW with an autostick transmission. It was actually a 3-speed manual tranny with a torque converter and a small vacuum controlled clutch which was operated via breaker points in the shifter. I actually kept the autostick working for a couple of years before the small 180mm clutch started slipping beyond what could be adjusted out. I bought the car for $400, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get parts for the autostick if it ever failed…

    The car now drives happily with a fully manual 4-speed. Good riddance to the old autostick, as the car is now easier to drive and gets better mileage.

  5. CGHill »

    6 June 2010 · 4:40 pm

    I read up on Buick’s ancient Dynaflow system, which apparently started out in high gear, though you could shift to low (and back again) with the lever.

  6. Jeffro »

    6 June 2010 · 6:46 pm

    I’d let Linda Vaughn slap my shifter.

  7. CGHill »

    6 June 2010 · 7:14 pm

    Bet you would, too.

  8. Jennifer »

    7 June 2010 · 8:11 am

    Which brings up a peeve of mine. When I tell the car salesman that I want a manual transmission, I don’t want some manumatic thing. Seriously? What does he expect me to do with my left foot? And cocking an eyebrow at me and asking if I know how to handle one? Buddy, you just lost the sale. But I might take you for a good spin in your shiny demo just to scare you a bit first.

  9. CGHill »

    7 June 2010 · 8:39 am

    The take rate for the stick these days is somewhere on the wrong side of 10 percent, so at least part of the Plaid Monster’s motivation here is to get you into one of the cars they actually have on the lot, all of which were ordered with automatics and such-and-such trim package.

    But yes, it is true, they don’t believe you can work three pedals. (Not that they are particularly proficient themselves, but surely they must be better than some yucky girl.)

  10. Tom »

    7 June 2010 · 9:01 am

    My older brother had a 1972 Hurst Olds 442 (gold over black, of course) with glass T-tops and a Hurst dual-gate shifter. That thing would get – as they say – rubber in all four gears. He quickly tired of it and moved on to something even faster, and my dad ended up driving the car for awhile. It wasn’t long before “Dad, can I borrow the car tonight?” was followed by burning as much $0.40/gallon fuel as would run through those dual carbs. Those were the days!

RSS feed for comments on this post