It was part of the experience, once upon a time. Just like having a mechanic ride along on track was part of the Indy experience, once upon a time.
Just like skipping the seat belts because it was safer to be thrown free of the car in a crash, once upon a time.
Just like unassisted brakes were the epitome of feel and function.
Once upon a time.
The future isn't with the three-pedal manual. Hell, the present isn't even with the three pedal, if you're serious about racing your car.
What would a professional race team do with a traditional three-pedal transmission in a production-based Porsche 911 GT3? They'd chuck it and install a mechanically or pneumatically-operated dog-type sequential gearbox, most likely.
In fact, that's exactly how Porsche equips its own 911 GT3 Cup car: a sequential manual six-speed dog-type G97/63 gearbox.
Why? Because it's faster and more durable than a synchromesh three-pedal. And yes, it technically has three pedals, but the clutch pedal isn't used nearly as often owing to the gearbox's design--though you still do get the joy of the heel-toe downshift.
The PDK dual-clutch transmission is the closest thing we can get in a production street car. It uses electronics to automate much of the process for both street-friendliness and durability, but in many ways, it's a better approximation of current racing technology than an H-pattern. Especially once you start comparing to the almost fully automated gearboxes in open-wheel race cars.
Better yet, the PDK in the 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 isn't your run-of-the-mill street stuff. It's tuned for quicker, more aggressive shifts, modeled after the characteristics of a racing sequential gearbox. The one in the upcoming GT3 RS is likely to be even more high-strung.
2013 Porsche 911 GT3 CupEnlarge Photo
Maybe it's the mechanical simplicity (though calling any modern gearbox "simple" is rather inaccurate). Maybe it's the driver-machine interface, without any computerized intermediaries. Maybe it's just tradition.
Whatever it is, it's not about speed. It's also not about what's best on track, whether for fun or for money.
The same mentality could as easily shun electronic fuel injection for the carburetor, radials for bias plys, disc brakes for drums, ABS for square tires.
If you really can't get over your tranny fetish, you could always try an older model. Or how about getting back to the really good old days, before water-cooled 911s? Yeah, a classic 911 Carrera Club Sport should fit just about right--manual brakes and all.
Look--be an automotive Luddite. Be proud of it. Be vocal.
Deal with it.
Or better yet, get up in arms about the GT3 and the upcoming GT3 RS not offering a factory upgrade to the GT3 Cup's sequential 'box. We could get behind that.
Okay--much of this is written somewhat tongue-in-cheek. We, like you, are sad to see the demise of the manual transmission, not just at Porsche, but in high-performance cars almost everywhere, happening before our eyes. We like them for all of the reasons you do.
It's one thing to feel a bit nostalgic, to long for the days of pure driver-car connections, to make fun of the Nissan GT-R for being a rolling PlayStation. It's entirely another to argue that it's somehow improper for the most track-focused production versions of the 911 to move onward and upward.
If you don't like the present or its arc toward the future, go build yourself a retro race/street machine. Just don't be surprised when you get passed by that new PDK 991.