One of the things I’m proudest of at Hagerty is a program we offer to teach teens and young adults how to drive cars with manual transmissions. We call it the Hagerty Driving Academy, Powered by Skip Barber Racing School. It also teaches more advanced skills—things like skid control and emergency lane changing. But those young faces behind the wheel light up the most when they finally figure out the mysteries of the clutch and gearshift.
It’s easy to see why. When you’re starting out, driving a car with an automatic is daunting enough. All those knobs, pedals, and levers you’re used to seeing someone else operate so effortlessly are now under your control. That’s intimidating stuff.
But a stick? That’s a whole new ball game. I’ve taught manual transmissions to dozens of young people, including my daughters. Every person at some point got that frozen look of “Oh, my god, what did I do?” when they ground the gears or released the clutch too soon. (“Thunk!”)
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