After dropping off his work truck, a 45-year-old man and his 23-year-old girlfriend were approached by two would-be car jackers, according to a police report from St. Petersburg, Florida. What happened next may be indicative of the current state of the U.S. car culture.
As the couple was getting ready to leave, two men appeared, one on each side. They demanded money and a cell phone. One of them wielded a handgun and told the couple to get out of the woman’s 2007 Nissan. Neither of the thieves was prepared for what was next: the Nissan’s third pedal and stick shift. The two men quickly gave up and ran off on foot. The pair made off with a cell phone, but alas no money, or the car.
Manual transmission sales have been on the decline in the U.S. for several decades and many younger drivers don’t know how to shift for themselves. Some studies indicate that many teens and young adults prefer smart phones to cars altogether.
Is the decline because of our culture of instant gratification? Is shifting for ourselves too time consuming? (Hopefully it’s not that we can’t use our smart phones while shifting ourselves.) Are stories like these an indication that the auto enthusiast culture is on the decline – and the personal automobile itself?