What’s Your Favorite Gear Change in a Manual Car?

The 3-2 downshift in my tuned Civic Si is electrifying. But dropping 3-4 in my old Scout is just downright pleasant. What’s your favorite gear change?

byAndrew P. Collins|
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Andrew Collins
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The joy of driving a stick-shift car is so great that you can actually break down its delightfulness into sub-experiences—switching between certain gears is more fun than others. You know it, I know it, and those who don't are missing out. If you're picking up what I'm putting down: What's your favorite gear change?

Naturally, a completely correct answer is "it depends," right? But for me, broadly speaking, the 3-2 (third to second gear) holds a special place in my heart and I bet many other manual transmission enthusiasts would concur. There's something about pulling the lever towards you, and second gear is where you're going to feel strong acceleration even if you're not necessarily making a heap of horsepower.

Third to second is a spectacular shift to hit in my Civic, especially since my car's tuned with a Hondata device (giving me a lower VTEC activation RPM and increased mid-range power) and fitted with an Acuity adjustable shifter (exceptionally decisive lever action).

I've also got a titanium shift knob from a Japanese NSX Type S which makes every gear change no less than good.

Now coming back to that "it depends" factor. If I'm driving my Scout, downshifting sucks. With that ancient four-speed trans hooked up to a carburated V8 loping along at like 1,500 rpm, I'm all about the 3-4 shift.

Settling into a cruise at around 50 mph on a country road in that thing is blissful. And the super-long throw from third dropping down into top gear feels like plopping into a basement couch after a long day of labor.

So let us know what your favorite gear change is—just remember to specify what you'd be driving.

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