Manual ‘boxes aren’t quick enough for the Prancing Horse

Like the in-deck cassette player or the carburetor, the manual transmission seems to be inching ever closer to its ultimate demise. Sure, there are a few examples out there that go against the grain, but by and large, the trend is towards deleting that third pedal. Ferrari has played a significant role in this drift to the auto box, and unfortunately, it looks like the world-famous performance marque isn’t changing course.

That’s the word from Ferrari’s chief technology officer, Michael Hugo Leiters. According to the Australian publication Motoring, Leiters was asked at the 2016 Paris Motor Show if Ferrari would ever consider a future model equipped with a manual transmission. Leiters’ answer was crystal clear: “Technically spoken, no.”

As it turns out, only the latest double-clutch boxes offer the sort of performance that Ferrari is looking for. Pair that with a decline in demand, and you end up with a dead technology.

Of course, even a cursory glance at the collector market reveals that manual-equipped Ferraris tend to have the highest resale value. But for Ferrari, that doesn’t justify a return to stick shifts.

“I’m not sure exactly but I think the total manual order was between three and five cars,” said Nicola Boari, Ferrari’s marketing head, in regard to the California. “It led to the conclusion that if you find one of those five cars in the market the value will be extremely high, but that’s a different subject.”

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Why It Matters

This latest news reminds me of the story about the rivalry between Enzo Ferrari and Ferruchio Lamborghini.

Back in the late ‘50s, Ferruchio was left unsatisfied by the clutches that Ferrari used in his street cars. After bringing the clutch issues to the attention of Enzo, Ferruchio was spurned by the prideful Ferrari chief, prompting Ferruchio to start the sports car marque that bears his namesake today.

The point is this – where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I know there’s a whole row-your-own army out there that’ll keep the way of the clutch pedal going strong for several decades to come.

The point is this – where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I know there’s a whole row-your-own army out there that’ll keep the way of the clutch pedal going strong for several decades to come.

Yes, it’s true – Ferrari is just one of several top-shelf automakers that have left the manual for dead, with this latest news underlining similar statements made by Ferrari stakeholders last year at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

But that doesn’t account for marques like Porsche and Aston Martin, both of which have reiterated a commitment to manuals. It’s like this – if three-pedal 911’s start stealing sales from Ferrari, you can bet the Italian higher-ups will reconsider their DCT-only strategy. It’s an unlikely scenario, but still a possibility.

But here’s the real kicker – you can still get a manual transmission in a variety of inexpensive sports cars today. Just a few examples would include the Toyota 86 and Ford Focus RS. I think this will be the real bastion of stick shifts for some time into the future. After all, customers get the latest and greatest Ferrari because it shaves a few tenths of the ‘ole 0-to-60 time, which is exactly the sort of thing tech like the modern race-inspired DCT was made for.

By comparison, inexpensive sports cars like the 86 are all about feeling, not bragging rights. These are performance machines for fun, and in that respect, a manual transmission is still very much in demand.

Source: Motoring

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