Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

February 12, 2013

Sticking it to car thieves

By Mike Redmond
CNHI

— I hate to say I told you so, but ... no, wait. I don't hate it at all. In fact, today is one of those occasions when I love to say I told you so.

For years I have discussed the benefits of the manual transmission for our motor vehicles. Well, I call it discussion, but it was really more like shouting into the wind. People just don't want to shift their own gears anymore, no matter how much you point out that it makes you a better driver, more in control of your vehicle, and all that malarkey.

They don't even respond when you bring up what I consider the number-one argument in favor of a manual transmission: Theft deterrence. As in (big-budget Hollywood movies about glamorous auto thieves notwithstanding) most people today have no idea how to drive a stickshift, and while their behavior might indicate otherwise, carjackers are people. And as such, can't shift their own gears. Need proof? Try this on for size, fresh from the World Wide Interweb Thingie:

"Two armed men attempted to carjack a Corvette, Orlando police say, but were unable to figure out how to work the manual transmission.

"The Corvette's owner, 51-year-old Randolph Bean, told WKMG-TV he was sitting in the yellow vehicle waiting for his wife to get out of work at the Orlando Regional Medical Center at around 11:20 p.m. He saw two men approaching the car with a gun pointed at him. Bean says they opened the door and forced him out of the vehicle. One man held him on the ground at gun point.

"The second man, he says, got into the vehicle and, after some apparent confusion, started screaming, 'How do I start the car?' at Bean."

There you go. Car theft foiled by a manual transmission. And, I might add, a helpful owner. This is where Bean and I diverge. Bean told the guy to push in the clutch. My response would have been different - "I don't know, I was just trying to figure that out myself" perhaps, or "First, you have to sit on the gearshift."

Either way, this would probably lead to a point where Bean and I diverge again, because they took his wallet and house keys but left him alive and I don't think I would have gotten that "consideration." Granted, I would have died with a certain amount of satisfaction bred by defiance, but they still would mostly likely have killed me, and that's not in my plans at the moment.

Anyway, my point is reinforced: Chances are, most of today's car thieves can't drive a stick. Bad guys with a gun were stopped by a good guy with a manual transmission.

And because of this, I am really, really upset that the aforementioned manual transmission is disappearing from American automobiles.

Oh, sure, you can get one in Randolph Bean Model Chevrolet Mid-Life Crisis, but it's next to impossible to get a pickup with a manual transmission. Good grief. You'd think if the auto companies offered stick shifts in anything, it would be pickups. What could be more appropriate, especially since I'm truck shopping at the moment?

Oh well. For now, I'll take my victory in knowing that in this one instance, at least, logic won. A car with a manual transmission proved to be un-stealable.

I told you so.

© 2013 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.