back to article US car thieves floored by manual gearbox

Two US would-be car thieves failed dismally to make off with a Honda Accord after discovering it had a mysterious manual gearbox, RTÉ reports. Having menaced the owner with a gun outside a pizza restaurant in Georgia, and relieved him of his wallet and car keys, the pair of teen master criminals prepared to make good their …


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  1. Rick

    sounds about right

    It never ceases to amaze me how much dumber the kids today seem to be getting. I remember the first car I got coincidently a honda. I spent the first week just learning how to drive it. These kids spend more time in from of the tube then actually out doing something productive. Then when they try to do something stupid like this they always end up getting caught.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well they are lucky

    There was a case in a Bedford multi-story car park a few years back, where they couldn't handle a auto, so it went over the edge landing on its roof killing them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now we know ...

    So that's where George Bush and Tony Blair have been hanging out - but which one is Dumber?

  4. Paul Banacks


    They are Lucky?!!

    I guess you must count your blessings and bow to lady luck every time you cross the street...

  5. Planeten Paultje


    ....had a nice show where the doctor is taken hostage and his former assistant is allowed to drive away in the doctor's car, a vintage English automobile. The poor guy had never heard of a "clutch" and couldn't get it moving ;-).

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. heystoopid

    Ha ! Ha!

    Ha ha , but since according to US Auto sales figures a mere 3 out of every 20 new automobiles sold annually to the great unwashed masses or 15% of gross sales possess a manual gear box(all sales brochures for new cars , list the manual shift as an Auto delete option).

    But then again I seem to recall , in one book written by Ralph Nader way back in the mid sixties , he pointed out a disturbing fact that until all automakers in Detroit standardized both the shift lever and the quadrants , many US drivers had grave difficulties in driving any car which had an unfamiliar shift pattern(chrysler had a really groovy push button set up on the dashboard which totally confused all Ford and Chevy drivers!)

    Further one should not forget , that in the US all driving schools(schools inclusive) unless requested only ever provide slush mobiles!

    The world it seems is peopled with many brain dead wankers , in this new 21st century!

    As they say how soon we forget the lessons we should have learned from history, and those that fail to learn from past mistakes , are but doomed to repeat them!

    Or has Darwin struck yet again?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Lucky...

    Yes the car criminals, who couldn't workout a manual gearbox, are lucky - they are lucky their stupidity didn't kill or seriously injure them as it too often does with car thieves and the like

    Personally I try and avoid relying on luck and think a head to my own safety

  9. Peter Kay

    If you're talking vintage..

    you could go back not that long really and find a car that still uses a choke.. Don't know what the idiots would think of that!

  10. Law


    Is it really that uncommon to find a manual int he US then?? It's almost the opposite here... I say almost because a certain number of old-timers tend to drive auto's here (UK)... my dad being one. He has been trying to force my younger siblings to learn in an auto... basically because he can't teach them a manual these days

    I loves my manual.... it's more fun to drive!! :)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American motoring - a British perspective

    Whilst touring the states a couple of years ago it became apparent that with so many arrow straight roads an auto box is hardly out of place. On the flip side though, we did see a 400 horse power pickup truck spin in front of us on one of these roads in well lit dry conditions, in the middle of what could only be described as relatively light traffic. We also saw some of the dumbest drunk driving in christendom, and saw lots of it in the evenings. Considering how few cars are sold in the US with a stick shift it's unsurprising but extremely gratifying that these two likely lads were caught out.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Wow

    Yes, it really is that uncommon - the 3 out of 20 figure from heystoopid seems about right, more or less the inverse of how it is in the UK.

    When I moved to the States from Britain I found that all the hire cars are autos, all the driving schools have autos, and it is a special order to buy a manual car of any kind. I had to take my local driving test in my own (manual) car because the driving school vehicle was so alien: a huge great auto Ford Taurus instead of the manual Ford Focus hatchback I had ordered ahead before I got here.

    Which would bring me onto the parlous state of hatchbacks in the States if I was going to continue ranting, but I think I will shut up now.

  13. Rachel

    Sheesh.. jump to conclusions why don't you!

    My god, don't assume that noone knows how to drive a manual in the US. For one, the owner of the car of course knew how.

    And if there is some future auto-delete set for the manual drive, I do not see it happening anytime soon and it would probably be more of a global thing saying that all your car manufacturers are doing their best to push out vehicles on a global market.

    Sorry guys, I'm an American and everyone in my family knows how to drive a stick shift.

    So far, every car I've owned has been one and generally I prefer it that way.

    But you have a wide range of areas here due to the diversity of the country. Here in Texas, just about everyone owns a vehicle, its hard to imagine living in New York or somewhere where few people do.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Merkin Yoof Driving Lesson

    Duh! After pressing Triangle, you have to press the Square button to speed away...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vintage cars - out of sync

    One thing is to get a car with manual going in the first place. If you know the theory - that should be doable, even if you have only driven auto before. (I suppose they do teach about how cars works in the driving schools - over there...?)

    In vintage cars - like my friends old Land Rover firetruck - that would only be the first problem. As trying to get away in first gear is stupid. Know try to shift to second - when the gears ain't synchronised! ;)

  16. Will Leamon

    Manual Tranny in the USA

    As a proud owner of 5 speed Integra (think gussied up Celica brits) I hate the thing when stuck in traffic. I can completely sympathize with any person who lives in a big city going with a slush box.

    Now on the open roads of GA it's a different story all together. Then I would never trade in my stick.

  17. call me scruffy


    Oooh... anyone got a link for the bedford incident?

    As for automatics:

    * The Japanease (ISTR) had an expression about cuttlery, that eating food with cuttlery was like making love through a translator.

    * As an ardent biker I've found that trying to drive a car is like wanking with an educational robot arm, and can't believe that having an automatic gearbox could make the experience that less pleasant.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Manuals and smoking

    Most of my family knows how to drive a stick shift. My ex and her family flat out refused to learn. Why? It'd take away their smoking hand. Just another way smoking makes you stupider. Now, where'd I leave the asbestos suit?

  19. Jimbo


    I'm suprised that more cars aren't offered with a "crunch box". There are some wonderful designs out there for just changing gear. With the crunch box you have no clutch, just like an auto, you just drop it into the gear you want. Despite the name you don't actually get the crunch noise, and after a while you forget all about the clutch. The next motor I got into, I kept stalling it every time I came to a stop, just like after driving an auto.

    And if you think car gearboxes are fun, you should try driving a truck. I passed my test in a truck with 21 gears for forwards and 3 for backwards. That gives you enough ratios to climb a wall, but you don't tend to use them all, you just jump gears.

    Then there was the optional tiptronic gearbox on one truck that had 29 gears for forward. It was a semi auto (no clutch) and you could choose if you wanted it to go up/down 1 or 3 gears at a time.

    The all time worst box I came across had 8 forward gears, with the standard layout for a four speed box. When you got to fourth, you flipped a switch and started again in first (fifth gear) and worked up the box again. The problem was that when the truck was empty, you pulled away in 4th. This meant that the first change was into first after flipping the switch. Damn that was slow. And if you forgot the switch it made a really great noise which let everyone around know how much fun you were having.......

  20. Andrew Badera

    Got stick

    As a 28 year old American, who has owned four cars, all stick, I can assure you that manual transmission driving skills are alive and well in the US. Recently, however, dealing with a 45 minute commute down a 3 lane highway that was packed bumper-to-bumper at 6am, and would come to a complete stop in places if you were unlucky enough to still be on the road come 7am, I have given serious consideration to going over to an automatic -- at least for my daily driver.

  21. Marc

    Sticks in the US...

    I think it mainly depends on the car or truck you buy here. It's not 'us' but the manufacturer... (Okay, so maybe it's the manufacturer 'because' of us.)

    Most fun/sporty cars come standard with a manual 'box. Mustangs and 350Z's and such.

    Many family cars from the Japanese market have a manual available... but most domestic family cars do not even have the option, which is a huge disappointment. I can't explain why. Maybe the cost in producing them? The dumbing down of everything? No idea...

    Most full sized trucks do not have the option either, unless you get the smallest of the v6 or v8 motors or biggest of diesel tow-rigs. I think that's mainly a combination of two things -- cost effectiveness of designing the trucks with an 'adequate' and gentle slushbox, and "us" not being able handle 325hp, three pedals, and a light-in-the-back RWD platform.

  22. Will Leamon

    Then Your Ex Missed Out

    Because nothing looks cooler than propping your smoke in your shifter hand.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American teens

    I'm amazed most of them can drive automatics. Certainly not with the extra distraction of using their turn signal.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not all American Teens

    I learned to "drive" on a tractor. Then a Chevy C20 with a 3spd column shift, a Dodge Aspen with a 4spd floor shift, a Ford Mustang 3spd, a Ford flatbed with 12 forward gears and a Yamaha Enduro (motorbike). All before I was 18. There are plenty of us who learned to drive with a manual gearbox, and act responsibly when behind the wheel.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Manual transmissions in the US

    I think the overall ratio of good to bad drivers is no different in US to the UK. I do think that due to local conditions and tastes they simply sell more auto's.

    especially @ Marc - "Light in the back" pickups - 400 + horses and a truck laden only with the driver being used as a car...... Always going to be a problem. I drive a lightweight japanese sportscar, modelled on British sportscars, designed in the states (and they got it right, it's a proper sportscar minus the British extra's ie... Leaky hood and puddle of oil).... I know people over here in the UK that consider this configuration dangerous in wet weather..... Personally I consider it safer than front wheel drive, but then the first vehicle I learned to drive was a kart on a track. Rain and slicks is a lot of fun....

    Drunkeness behind the wheel is another matter. Many states still don't do analyses of blood, urine or breath, relying instead on "sobriety tests". After a substantial night on the sauce in Mississippi we were invited hop into the vehicle of a host for the 400 metres to our hotel, a pleasant stroll on a warm, humid evening. We explained that we enjoyed the walk, he looked in askance..... The main reason we declined, apart from our obviously inappropriate love of nocturnal strolls was that he was drunker than we were..... And after that much Southern hospitality, we were well pickled too.

    Another example from the same trip - I used to ride motorcycles a lot..... We passed an Alabama biker bar a hundred yards from a hotel and were invited in by the locals, who proved friendly and generous hosts. We enjoyed ourselves and headed back to our room merry after the nights merriment. The locals all got into pickups and onto motorcycles...... Ye gods. I wouldn't move a motorcycle on my driveway after a beer.

  26. Jeremy

    I getting rid of my auto

    I have a 21 year old Saab 900 that has a three speed auto that is dying, I am in the process of replacing it with a manual. My wife had an 82 Honda Civic with a manual transmission that she had replaced twice because she did not want to go to an automatic.

    When we visited Ireland for our honeymoon we got a cool Nissan with a manual, it took me less than five minutes to get to know its shift points. I can say that I hate automatics and always have because there is a complete lack of control.

    We live in the US

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's be fair

    I owe it to the honor of American car thieves to say that at least some of them have mastered the stick. One of our cars (1994 Accord, manual transmission) was stolen last winter and driven to an adjoining county, a minimum of 3.5 miles by road.

    In any case, isn't operating a manual transmission something like hanging a 1" tape, a skill likely to be soon superseded?

  28. Warren

    Re: Manual Tranny in the USA

    Just to be sure, the Acura (honda) Integra [typeR] is a 'gussied' (sporty?) version of the Integra. or maybe you meant a coupe version of the accord?

    Celica is made by Toyota and in itself is a sports coupe of varying perfomance depending on spec.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the other hand...

    Before you feel superior to someone who drives automatic, consider that to use a gearstick in the US, you'd have to use your right hand.

    Even when first driving an automatic there, I punched the door with my left hand a few times before I got used to it.

  30. Greg Nelson

    In The Frozen North

    I wasn't allowed to drive an automatic until I had learned how to drive a manual. Learning to drive a stick was a double edged sword as you could cut kids who were learning to drive automatics but had to suffer the embarrassments of messing up learning a manual. I'm with those who would go with an automatic for a heavy, gridlocked daily commute. OTOH living in Canada driving in heavy snow is much easier in a manual. You can do so much more with a manual or at least it seems that way to me. Achieving near mastery driving a stick is a rite of passage.

  31. Mark

    Manual Trans are to Auto Trans

    as the DOS/UNIX Command Line is to Windoze.

    And yes, the world is getting dumbed down, otherwise ignorant, uneducated tribesmen would never be able to figure out how to shoot an AK-47.

  32. Rubber chicken

    You don't "drive" and auto - you "aim" them

    From the land of the '4real' kid it is getting tough to find a manual. Still, it makes finding one a fun part of buying a car.

    Don't care about the inconvienience in rush hour traffic. Take the bus or train :-)

  33. Tim Bates

    Manual FTW

    I don't get the "auto in the city" thing... I drive a manual most times when I'm in the city. I actually don't feel quite as safe in autos in the city. And my left foot gets a bit bored too.

    I say manuals all day, every day.

  34. Hans-Peter Lackner


    Can I get discount from my insurance, because a stick shift is a anti-theft-system?

  35. John

    Learn in an auto?


    Why do people with a manual car say: "learn in an auto" ?

    What's to learn?

    If you can drive a manual car, then you are automatically a grand master in an auto - pun indended.

  36. Dr Stephen Hogg


    Hey Rachel,

    Went to school with Noone

  37. Matthew

    Patient Criminals

    Has nobody noticed that the thieves were still trying to start the car

    when the police arrived? I've only experienced UK police but UK or US,

    surely they took longer to arrive than the 10 seconds needed to say

    "Screw this. Leg it."

  38. Marc-Oliver Kalis

    @Pikie car flip in Bedford (completely OT)

    You are not by any chance a zimbo or a slopy?

  39. Ishkandar

    Re. driving in gridlock conditions

    Just do what my dad did. He got mum to drive and had a pre-work snoze all the way in !! Arrives fresh as a daisy and totally unstressed !!

    Always did wonder why mum was bad tempered first thing in the morning !!

  40. PT

    Re. Starting a stick shift

    It wasn't driving it that was the problem, but starting it. An automatic won't start (ie the starter won't turn) unless you put your foot on the brake. A manual (in the US, anyway) won't start unless you put your foot on the CLUTCH. Since both cars have a stick on the floor it's not immediately obvious to a stranger what kind it is, and when you're in a hurry and nothing happens when you turn the key, feeling for a left-foot pedal isn't likely to be the first thing that occurs to you.

  41. Demian Phillips

    There is more then just Stick and Auto now.

    Technologies like CVT (toyota planetary gear system and whatever honda uses) and that funky sport shif thingy (I think it's a manual that handles all the clutchwork) also exist.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A manual (in the US, anyway) won't start unless you put your foot on the CLUTCH......

    In the Uk we have this magic thing called Neutral or "Not In Gear"

  43. Charles

    In the Uk we have this magic thing called Neutral or "Not In Gear"

    Yes, but in North America it does not matter. A manual shift car is wired with a switch on the clutch. as Someone mentioned a lot of american Auto Transmission cars need you to push the brake pedal before they will start, and that is with the transmission in "Park".

    I belive it is in reaction to folks who used their cars starter as an electric motor to go through a Garage Door.

    It is a pain in the winter, as you have to crawl into a cold seat, and push the clutch down to start - then crawl back out to scrape the Ice off the windows while the engine warms up enough for the defroster to work.

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