The manual transmission in a sports car is fun as it gives you the driver the ability to shift your gears yourself. When paired with a unique engine it can be an event every time you take your car out.
Modern automatic cars are better than ever and are now so smooth that sometimes the experience can be a bit dull. But the automatics in some cars were so good they suited the personality of the cars so well. Even some great cars of the past 3 decades have only had automatic transmissions. Here are 10 great cars that never had an automatic:
1. Ford Crown Victoria
The Ford Crown Victoria is a favorite amongst everyone who drives cars. From cab drivers to police officers and now car enthusiasts the Crown Vic is a legendary car. 90% of the Crown Victoria’s were sold as fleet cars to firms and later used as taxi cars and police cars. It had a 4-speed automatic transmission paired with a very reliable V8 engine. The Crown Vics have now found their second calling with car enthusiasts who are now buying them to modify and race. These cars were great with the automatics but I’m very sure we’re going to be seeing more manual swaps for performance sake.
2. Buick Grand National/GNX
This is no doubt one of the coolest cars ever made by a brand that is barely known today. The car was first introduced in 1983 after several wins at the NASCAR Grand National Series. IN 1986, the Grand National was making 235 horsepower from its 3.5 liter turbocharged V6. It was faster than most sports cars at the time even with its boxy design.
In 1987, 547 Grand Nationals were sent to McLaren for some upgrades, at the time McLaren was focused on F1. The GNX (Grand National Xperimental) was the result, it was the fastest US production car at the time making 276 horsepower. A manual transmission wasn’t offered with a manual because it made too much torque for that transmission.
3. Nissan GTR R35
The GTR was fast when it came out in 2007 and is still fast to this day but never had a manual like its predecessors. It had one of the early dual-clutch transmissions which proved to be the best performance choice for the car. The transmission is so advanced that it could not be swapped out for a stick as it was built to cope with the power the car made.
4. BMW 540i Wagon (US)
The E39 BMW is one of the best generations of the 5 series and one of the most beautiful sedans ever made. Every trim was offered with a manual which enhanced the car’s driving experience but the touring never had a stick for the US market.
Other markets had a manual but the American market never got one mainly because they had low wagon sales in the states. It didn’t make financial sense to offer a manual in an unsuccessful market.
5. Dodge Demon
Dodge has seen a resurgence in sports car sales after the release of the challenger in 2015. Every iteration of this car to date has been offered with a manual transmission, even the Hellcat versions.
When the Demon was released in 2017 it was the fastest accelerating car at the time hitting 60MPH in 2.3 seconds on a prepped surface. It has a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 making 840 horsepower. The Demon was built with the sole purpose of going fast in a straight line, and the only way they could ensure this was to make it automatic only.
6. Toyota Supra (A90)
Is that a Supra? Is a phrase that has been made famous because of the MK 4 Toyota Supra. This car was well known for its 2JZ bulletproof engine and manual transmission which could handle way more power without needing upgrades. When the supra ended it took a long time before it came back, but it did.
When the Supra came back after 21 years, car fans were hyped for the new car. But the hype died down quickly as it didn’t have the option of a manual transmission. Toyota on the other hand went to great lengths to give the car everything needed to make it just as good as the old car. It teamed up with BMW and uses the B58 BMW straight-six engine. Which is now known to be able to handle more power just as easily as its predecessor. The ZF automatic transmission is great.
7. GMC Syclone/Typhoon
This car was made by the same engineers that worked on the Buick GNX. It had the same turbo V6 from the GNX bored out to 4.3 liters which made 280 horsepower and famously out accelerated a Ferrari 348 ts. It was equipped with 4 wheel drive and was the fastest accelerating vehicle in 1991.
Just like the GNX, only an automatic could work with this truck and a 4-speed automatic was used. The SUV version named the Typhoon had the same setup as the Syclone.
8. C8 Corvette
Currently the best sports car bargain on the market, the C8 Corvette is a great all-around car with its new mid-engine platform. It has a 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8 producing 495 horsepower. But for the first time in its history, the Vette will not have a manual transmission. The Corvette team says because of packaging issues a manual transmission will not be feasible.
9. 1987 Camaro 350
The Camaro to this day still offers a manual transmission in its sports cars. The ZL1 1LE which is the top trim was originally offered with a manual only. But in 1987, the 3rd gen Camaro 350 didn’t have that option. The Camaro had a 350 cubic inch L98 V8 which paired with the automatic. This was an odd decision as lower trims of the same year had the manual option. The 350 was never offered with a manual transmission which is honestly a shame.
10. Lexus LS400
The Lexus LS400 was the first car to be able to challenge the Germans in the luxury space and was a game-changer when it debuted. $400 million was said to have been spent developing its V8 engine (1UZ FE). It was a 4.0 liter V8 making 450 horsepower and was advertised as being very smooth.
The LS400 was very successful and outsold similar Models from Mercedes, BMW, and Jaguar. In the name of pure luxury, the Lexus was never offered with a manual transmission.
11. Every New Mercedes
Mercedes as a company has some of the best sports cars and luxury cars on sale today. But a manual transmission is not available in any of the cars being made today. If you need a manual from Germany Porsche and BMW still offer them.
12. Ford Lightning
This is one of the coolest performance trucks in history, the first-gen lightning was a success and so was the second generation lightning. In 1993, the F150 was modified and a 5.8 liter V8 was put in the engine and made 240horsepower. It could still tow up to 5000 pounds.
The 2nd gen lightning came in 1999 and had a V8 engine producing 360 horsepower. It hit 60 in 5.2 seconds and could still tow up to 4000 lbs. Both versions of the lightning borrowed the 4-speed automatic from their F350 to handle the power.
Stick shifts were the norm for sports cars of years past but with new cars getting faster manuals are no longer up to the task. For me, I appreciate both applications and both can be enjoyed to the fullest even if you’re a die-hard manual fan. What other great cars didn’t come with a manual, let us know.