The future of the stick shift looks dim. Performance icons like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren no longer offer traditional manuals. Even on enthusiast models like the Corvette, less than half of buyers opt for a third pedal.
But all is far from lost.
Alfa Romeo's new Giulia will allow drivers to row their own gears, and it's impossible to imagine Mazda nixing the option from its driver-focused MX-5. Also, any enthusiast with the desire to drive classic sports cars needs to know their way around a stick.
But among diehard manual devotees—and we are legion—the inner workings of the gearbox are often shrouded in mystery. Even those accustomed to tackling gritty engine work are fearful to crack the bellhousing. Of course, like a differential or rotary engine, it's not witchcraft that makes them function.
In theory, the operations are actually easy enough to grasp. So if you've ever wondered why the worn-out syncro makes second gear a bear in your 1974 Spider, this video about the manual's machinations should prove illuminating.
And for those you can't drive one? Learn. It just might make your next car harder to steal.