The manual gearbox is a rare and dying breed. It's officially on the endangered list, and some automakers have already written it off as if it were cozying up to Dodo birds in hell.
Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] has joined the scrum of car makers who no longer offers a row-your-own gearbox. At the Paris auto show last week, Ferrari's chief technology officer, Michael Hugo Leiters, said performance was the reason Ferrari has given up manuals. "Ferrari is design, performance and state of the art technologies. There’s no manual transmission that can beat this performance and therefore we have decided to stay on the double-clutch gearbox.”
It's no surprise, really. Automatic gearboxes have managed to become both incredibly fast and also far more engaging than they used to be. Lamborghini has moved on to dual-clutch setups. You won't find a shift lever in any new McLaren. Mercedes hasn't messed with sticks in its performance cars for decades. Now, the company that Enzo built, has officially given up on the manual gearbox as well.
It's a sad day for lovers of the heel-toe experience. Still, there's reason to rejoice. Porsche knows its customers want that shift-it-yourself driving nirvana, and the German sports car brand plans to offers manuals for years to come. Porsche has said it will build manual gearboxes for as long as their customer base demands them. That won't be forever, mind you. This is a company that builds the greatest automatic gearbox on the planet in the form of the PDK. There will be a day when Porsche no longer offers a manual transmission, too.
That day is not today, and that is a good thing.