Sticking point

Manual transmissions used to be promoted as ways to save gas. In these days of smarter and stingier automatics, perhaps they should be promoted as ways to save your ass:

A South Carolina kidnapper — wanted in Horry County on child cruelty charges — grabbed a woman at gunpoint, put her in the trunk of her car, but then could not drive because he didn’t know how to shift a manual transmission, officials say.

The 53-year-old woman managed to escape from the trunk early Tuesday after using a latch inside and then flagged down authorities.

The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 27-year-old Demetric Jerod Nelson, a Sumter man accused of kidnapping and robbing the woman at gunpoint early Tuesday morning, officials with the sheriff’s office said.

This sounds like a pretty good argument for the Ford Focus RS, a variation on the staid compact that sports well over 300 hp — and which, when it arrives next year, will come only with a stick.

Addendum, 23 April: Joe Sherlock reports:

Up until 1988, my plastics manufacturing company had only one forklift truck, a 1955 Hyster, which had a three-on-the-tree manual transmission. Several of our younger employees could not drive it because they didn’t know how to work the clutch and shift levers. We referred to them as Automatic Babies.


  1. Roger Green »

    16 April 2015 · 9:45 am

    My ex tried, and failed, to teach me how to drive a stick shift. She screamed that I was burning out her clutch, which I might have been, for all I know.

  2. miniapplejack »

    16 April 2015 · 9:49 am

    My usual argument when a car sales-slime tries to sell me an automatic: So, I’m by myself and the battery dies in the car. How do I get it started without resorting to a call to AAA for a jumpstart?

    Driving cars of various ages and reliability over the years, I’ve learned that push-starting a car isn’t as bad as it sounds.

  3. ms7168 »

    18 April 2015 · 8:42 am

    I used to park on a downhill slope and then would just turn on the ignition and step on the clutch and I didn’t have to get rolling very fast to pop it and start up and go! That one manual transmission was enough. It was a 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 coupe that was a beautiful car. Had a straight six and three speed on the column.

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