What Classic Would You Prefer With An Automatic Transmission?
Please, as civil human to civil human, don’t chuck that keyboard-lit Molotov cocktail of a hot take my way. We can discuss this without me ending up impaled with a virtual pitchfork, right? I’ll be the first to declare: I prefer a manual in almost every circumstance. But we’re here, right now, to discuss the possibility of buying a slush box classic.
Now, one of the biggest reasons we’re all so infatuated with outdated automobiles boils down to the way they deliver driving. Classics engage the driver that numb modern vehicles can’t hold a candle to. A firm third pedal and wobbly shifter directly connect the wheelman more than any other feature. Though I’ve seen too many try, you can’t really half-ass drive a manual vehicle.
The machine needs you. Gridlock traffic or not, there’s no cop-out available. But that’s the beauty of it, right? You can’t just slap it in “Drive” and zone out like the rest on the roadways: you’re forced to constantly judge braking and up/down shift—which, arguably makes you a more tentative driver.
Aside from the requirement to shift in a manual, if you actually want to go anywhere, it’s just good old fashioned fun. Quick rev-matched downshifts and screaming redline upshifts are actions that make you feel in control, which is why so many gearheads treat automatics as autotragics. But there has to be an exception, no?
Of the dozens of vehicles I’ve had the honor of owning, only one has been self-shifting: my 1984 Toyota Century. Granted, Toyota abandoned the manual for its flagship as soon as they mastered the AT gearbox…in 1975. The plush sedan was built for hauling dignitaries, not for carving canyons, despite my attempt to prove otherwise.
The Century is perfectly suited with a smooth shifting auto. In fact, it’d be a little ridiculous with a manual. Personally, I feel most luxury automobiles are better suited with a drive selector (column shift preferred) because it fits their posh personality more appropriately. But what other types of vehicles would an automatic be preferred?
Grand Tourers come to mind. Primarily built with the idea of comfortably carrying two-to-four at an efficient pace, these distant journey cruisers are meant to missile down the motorway—a forum that doesn’t often offer optimal manual shifting activity. I’ll take an automatic Citroen SM, please.
I suppose someone could make an argument for trucks, vans, and big-body sedans. Which classics do you prefer with an automatic transmission?