In North America, the automatic transmission has always been king.
The vast majority of cars bought and sold in America over the past 70 years have featured some form of automated gear selection. Sure, there were still a lot of manual transmissions available on the market, but these were usually found in entry-level budget vehicles or high-performance sports cars.
Recently though, the manual has been replaced by cheaper, more efficient automatics in entry-level cars and faster-acting semi-automatic units in sports cars. Each year, the number of manual transmissions left on the market dwindles and now there are just 10 cars that only come with a manual transmission. We know that they’re not as fast or efficient as automatics, but there’s no better way to be engaged with a car than by rowing your own gears.
Driving a manual-only car used to get you entrance into an exclusive enthusiast club of sorts, but there are fewer and fewer cars that have this special distinction. The Fiat 500 Abarth and Volkswagen Golf R, for example, both gained automatic transmissions this year.
Here are the 10 last cars in North America that you can only buy with a manual transmission:
Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
The most track-focused, enthusiast-based Camaro fittingly comes only with a manual transmission. Powered by a 7.0-liter V8 sending 505 thundering horsepower and 481 stump-pulling pound feet of torque to the rear wheels, the Z/28’s six-speed Tremec manual transmission adds to the fun found in this 3,820-pound sports car.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Video Review
Defying physics around a racetrack on 305-mm wide tires just wouldn’t be as fun with a six-speed automatic choosing the gears.
The Dodge Viper has never really cared about sports car convention. With a massive 8.4-liter pushrod V10 engine unleashing 645 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque, the Viper is a sledgehammer in a world dominated by precise scalpel-like sports cars. So it’s fitting that the Viper eschews a dual-clutch automatic transmission option and only offers a raw, fully engaging six-speed manual gearbox.
Ford Fiesta ST
It’s not common for an automaker in North America to introduce a serious subcompact performance car, but Ford did just that. With a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque, the little Fiesta is seriously quick and a whole lot of fun. Ramping the joy factor up even further is a standard six-speed manual transmission – the only gearbox choice for the ST.
Ford Focus ST
Like the Fiesta ST, the Focus ST is a hot hatch derivative of the regular five-door Focus compact car. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, the Focus ST is one of the most powerful front-wheel-drive cars on the market today. Of course, like the Fiesta ST, a six-speed manual is the only transmission choice – the way it should be.
Ford Focus RS
And if the Focus ST isn’t enough hot-hatch Ford performance for you, there is also the upcoming RS. With a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making an unbelievable 345 hp sent to all four wheels, the Focus RS has the Volkswagen Golf R and Subaru WRX STI firmly in its sights.
SEE ALSO: 2016 Ford Focus RS Video First Look
But best of all, Ford knows that this uber-Focus is going to be a serious enthusiasts car, so the only transmission offered is a six-speed manual.
Ford Shelby Mustang GT350
Ford seems to understand this whole manual transmission in a performance car thing. With the brand’s fourth entry on this list, the manual transmission-only Shelby Mustang GT350 and GT350R are track-focused special editions of the new-for-2015 Mustang. With a 5.2-liter V8 engine whipping out 526 hp and 426 lb-ft of torque, the new GT350 is an answer to the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. With extensive use of carbon fiber and other advanced technologies, the Shelby is poised to dethrone the Z/28 as the most track-capable muscle car. It will be interesting to see how Chevy responds with the upcoming new Camaro, and hopefully, it too remains manual-only.
Honda Civic Si
We have to give Honda credit. It’s not often that a mainstream compact performance vehicle is offered exclusively with a manual transmission, especially one as popular as the Civic. But the Si version of the compact Honda continues to come exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission. Making it the obvious choice for the sporty coupe and sedan, the Civic Si also comes with a standard limited-slip front differential and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 205 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
It may be in its final year of production, but the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR is still a serious performance car and, thankfully, is still exclusively paired to a five-speed manual transmission. The Lancer Evolution MR with its dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission is a faster car, but it’s not nearly as fun as controlling the 291 hp, all-wheel-drive Lancer with the MR’s five-speed manual. We, like many, will miss this car.
Porsche Boxster Spyder/ Cayman GT4
The Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 are the ultimate Boxsters/Caymans currently in Porsche’s lineup. Transplanted midship is a 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine borrowed from the big-dog Porsche 911. It produces 375 in the Boxster Spyder and 385 hp in the Cayman GT4. Currently, the only way to select gears in these high performance Porsches is through a six-speed manual transmission, although Porsche’s dual-clutch automatic has been rumored to be added to the lineups soon.
Subaru WRX STI
Subaru feels that a proper all-wheel-drive, street-legal rally car should still come only with a manual transmission and we couldn’t agree more. A dual-clutch transmission would make for a faster overall package, but it wouldn’t provide the same joy as rowing your own gears in this 305 hp compact sedan. One drive with the manual transmission and driver controllable center differential in a snow storm is all it takes to see why.