Life is a Highway

Different students start out with either an automatic or a manual; many start with an automatic because it can be easier for new drivers to handle.

Kaylynn Tavernier, Editor in Chief

The first automobile model to use an automatic transmission was the 1948 Oldsmobile. For those who don’t know, automatic cars have a torque converter that connects the engine to the transmission and uses pressurized fluid to transfer power to the gears. This apparatus replaces a manual friction clutch and lets the vehicle come to a complete stop without stalling.  

“It’s a lot easier to be more precise with an automatic than with a manual vehicle.”

— Jake White

The first car to use a manual transmission with synchromesh was the 1929 Cadillac. For those who don’t know, a manual is an automotive transmission consisting of a system of interlocking gear wheels and a lever that enables the driver to shift gears manually. With manual transmissions, the driver operates the clutch and decides when to shift gears.  

The students at Rocky Mountain High School have a variety of automatic and manual cars. Some students prefer one over the other.  

Jake White is a senior at Rocky Mountain High School. White said, “I have a 1984 Dodge Power Ram.” White continued, “I prefer a manual car because they are fun to drive. Manuals have more disadvantages. Because if you’re doing very precise stuff with your car, it’s a lot easier to be more precise with an automatic than with a manual vehicle.” With new drivers, some cars are better to start out with than others. White said, “Automatic cars should be the car you start out with because with a manual, you need to get a little driving under your belt before you drive that.”  

Dakota Miller is a senior at Rocky Mountain High School. Miller said, “I drive a 2000 Dodge Dakota sport. It’s an automatic.” However, Miller actually prefers manuals: “I like manuals because manuals are just way more fun; you have the feel of the transmission and complete control of the vehicle.”  

Some students believe the different transmissions have disadvantages and advantages. Miller said, “I’d say they’re about the same depending on how you drive each one of them. For manual, you have the same control of the vehicle, and automatics, you don’t have to really do anything other than gas, brake and steer.”  

Different students start out with either an automatic or a manual; many start with an automatic because it can be easier for new drivers to handle. Miller continued, “When I started, I drove an automatic because that was the only thing, I had access to. And then when I learned how to drive a manual, I just I loved it.”  

Experienced drivers have their preferences, but still recommend starting with an automatic. Miller said, “Definitely an automatic just because it’s easier to learn. But over time, I would think you want to learn a manual because it’s just a fun skill to have. And you never know when you’re going to need it.” And what about dream cars? “My dream car would be a 1973 Camaro manual with 350 Big block because that was my dad’s first car and [he] used [to] street race it.” 

Annebel Mathews is a senior at Rocky Mountain High School. Mathews said “My car is a 2006 Nissan Quest, and it is automatic.” Some students here at Rocky have never learned how to drive a manual. Mathews said, “I haven’t ever driven a manual, but I think I’d rather drive an automatic because I’m terrible at multitasking. I don’t think I’d be able to consciously focus on my hands, feet, and hearing all at the same time.”  

Mathews does have a dream car, though: “My dream car is a yellow truck, that’s not new like a Ram, but not [so] old that it doesn’t have air conditioning. My reasoning, for one, is because I had a special connection with my Grandaddy before he passed away, and he drove a yellow truck. I’d like one to honor his memory, at least for a little while.”  

Rocky Mountain students who drive mainly agree new drivers should start with an automatic before learning manuals. Some students know how to drive manuals, while others don’t. The students here at Rocky Mountain are unique for knowing some things about cars.