ON the morning I was supposed to take a stick-shift driving class in Manhattan to prepare for my high-summer trip to Europe, I received an ominous e-mail from my driving school: “The lesson today has been canceled. The driver’s wife just informed us that he was rushed to the emergency room.” Undeterred, I booked a stick-shift class at a rival outfit, determined to handle my vacation rental car with panache, and even (so I hoped) with grace.
Europeans mostly drive cars with manual transmission, and their rental cars reflect that preference, whether you’re in England, Italy, Greece or any of the curling-roaded lands that for centuries were traversed by carriage, cart, horse and goat, and whose byways have not been noticeably widened since. Online, I found that I could rent an automatic car for $1,000, a stick shift for $300. By spending $100 in New York for a 90-minute training session, I could save $700 in France. Pourquoi pas? I asked myself. How hard can it be?
The day before my flight found me scuttling herky-jerkily around the loop of the Stuyvesant Town housing complex in Manhattan in an ancient hulk of a training car whose clutch was so stiff that depressing it felt like working a gym leg press. Nonetheless, after 10 minutes of fits and starts, I hardly stalled at all. I even parallel parked, and did three-point turns. Cheered, I set off for Europe, eager to put the pedal to the métal.
At a train station in rural France, I picked up the keys to a tiny Renault Clio, bright yellow with black accents, about the size of a refrigerator. I nicknamed it “la guêpe” (the wasp). Plucky and nearly new, the Clio sailed bravely along the narrow, winding roads of Auvergne, handling roundabouts with verve. I exulted in shifting gears, enjoying the powerful growls that pressure from my sandaled foot could soothe to a purr.
The problem, I soon saw, was not driving, but parking. The French countryside does not abound in what we know as driveways. To halt la guêpe in flight, you had to slow as other drivers kept zipping along, refusing to downshift or — heaven forfend — bring their cars to a stop. Spotting the gîte, cafe or church where you needed to park, you had to abruptly rocket over a curb onto a narrow patch of grass or gravel and pray there was space. Maneuvering was then required to keep the car from being clipped by traffic. Reversing through hedges, gates and ornamental stone blobs to park demanded the psychic powers of Luke Skywalker. The Force, alas, was not with moi.
In short: I smashed the Clio, front and back. It was devoured by La France Profonde. First, a stone blob, hidden by luxuriant field grass, tapped the back, which promptly crumpled. After detaching from the blob, I guided the car across an open meadow, where it nose-dived into a hidden ditch, called in French, beautifully, “un fossé.” Assessing the damage, I saw that the fossé had scuppered the front; a furze of grasses fringed the grille, making the car look like a tiki totem.Continue reading the main story
Manual Vs Automatic Transmission Essay
Manual vs. Automatic Transmission
You want to get a new car, but you are not sure whether to get one with an automatic transmission or one with a manual transmission. Well read on and perhaps this essay will help you out with your decision. Cars have played a big role in my life. When I was a little kid my dad and I used to work on his 197? Ford Granada. Every time something would go wrong with the car he would ask me to help him fix it. Not because I knew much about cars, because I didn't know anything about the subject, but because he wanted me to learn about cars and spend some time with me. Or maybe he just didn't want me to get ripped off at a garage when something went wrong with my car. Either way, we spent a lot of time working on cars. He taught me to love cars; I think it was because of him that I got really into cars. Unlike most people when they do something for a long time, they tend to get bored of whatever it is they're doing. But I, instead of getting bored of cars, the more I work on them, the more I like them. What I really like about cars is the engine. A car can look beautiful and exciting on the outside, but if you don't have enough power under the hood, the car will just end up being boring. The transmission plays a really big role on the car too because, besides getting power to the wheels, it can make or break the car. There are two different kinds of transmissions, automatics and manuals. Stick shift cars have played a bigger role in my life than automatics. If you want your drive to be boring or you're just lazy, no pun intended, you'll choose an automatic transmission. But if you want your drive to be fun, and most of all, if you want to control the power out put of your engine, you'll choose a manual transmission, hands down.
There are many pros and cons on the different transmissions. For example, manual transmissions don't work very well on places like San Francisco, where there are a lot of hills, because the car tends to roll back. This is actually not a major problem because you can overcome it with a little practice. Automatic transmissions, however, do not have this problem; they do not roll back on hills. A benefit of manual transmissions is acceleration. Cars with manual transmissions accelerate more rapidly and evenly than automatic transmissions, if you know exactly when to shift. Automatic transmissions accelerate a little slower. One very important con on automatic transmissions is that it gives much lesser mileage. Manual transmissions do not use any power from the engine to change gears, because you do that your self, thus saving you money. Another advantage on a car with a manual transmission is that, if your battery dies, you do not need jumper cables and an additional car. All you have to do to start up a car, with...
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