Tag Archives: Manual Transmission

Fleet Update: 2000 Porsche 986 Boxster – Oh, Hell Yes.

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Regular readers will have sorted that I’ve bought a Porsche. It was not a move that I took lightly, nor was it a spur of the moment thing predicated by my recent sojourn to California to spend 3.5 glorious days in Porsche heaven. Nor was it related to the 50th anniversary of the 911, which car journalists everywhere seem to be squeezing the absolute life out of. The fact is, I’ve always, always wanted a Porsche, and I’ve been a fan of the Boxster since the first one I ever saw – a 1997 model in Orient Red metallic with Savanna Beige leather. I was at our local German Car Show with my Dad, who was struck by this particular car. We must have talked to the owner for over 20 minutes about his Boxster and what a great driver it was. I was smitten, but filed the thought away for future reference should I find myself in the right place at the right time and in the right mood. I don’t know if I’m presently in the right place or the right time, but I am definitely in the mood.
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1984 Jaguar XJ6 5-Speed: Find Another One in the States…

1984 Jaguar XJ6 - 1

It’s amazing what a little bit of bad PR from 40+ years ago can do to a car company. Even Jaguar cars from the Ford period forward depreciate like just about nothing else on the market (save for the Kia Optima that I recently traded away – but that’s a story for another day). That is to say they just can’t hold their value despite a long-ago departure from the gremlins associated with Lucas Electrics, but they’ve just really never recovered. Now I’m not going to argue that they’re the most reliable cars on the market – they’re not – but they are on a par with most contemporary luxury cars from the past 30 or so years. And to our eyes, they’re prettier than most, especially the last of the old-school, old-tech XJ6s: the Series III. Continue reading


1983 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 5-speed: Classic and Rare Beater Bargain

1983 Mercedes 280SL - 1

Having been produced from 1971 through 1989 in no less than eight engine configurations, Mercedes-Benz R107 roadsters are hardly rare. In fact, for many of us children of the 1960s, 1970s, and even 1980s, when someone references “Mercedes SL” these are the cars that come to mind. Here in the US, however, we only really got three “official” versions of the R107: the 450SL (and 350SL 4.5 which was the same car) from 1972 through 1980, the 380SL from 1981 through 1985, and the 560SL from 1986 through the end of production. That leaves a lot of SLs that never made it to our shores, including anything across the range that came with a manual transmission. That’s what makes this Euro-spec car on CraigsList in Fort Lauderdale, Florida a rarity. That, and its low $4,400 asking price.

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 5-Speed: Putting the “Sports” back in “Sports Leicht”

The original Mercedes-Benz SL-series cars were true sports cars: hard-edged, performance-oriented, and they took some skill to drive. In fact, the designation “SL” originally stood for “Sports Leicht” or in English, “Sports Light” referencing the sporting nature of the car and its lightweight construction. Subsequent models, starting with the 190SL and carrying through the R113 “Pagoda” models and on to the iconic Beverly Hills Housewife R107 convertibles, steadily became less sporting and less light. Quality remained top-notch in true Mercedes fashion and only improved as the years progressed, but “Sport” was a concept that seemed to get lost in translation, especially on U.S. shores where buyers could not even buy a manual transmission-equipped Mercedes SL after the last of the R113 Pagodas rolled off the boat from Sindelfingen. Until, that is, the R129 300SL came along. The new 300SL could be had with a stick shift – like this car on eBay – but very few made it over here.

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1983 Mercedes-Benz 280SE: Just because it’s tubby doesn’t mean it’s not FUN!

Regular visitors to TotallyThatStupid – and yes, there are some – have surely figured out that we are fans of big German cars. Well, we’re fans of the small ones too, but we definitely have a soft spot for Bahn-storming panzerwagens. All the more so if they come from the 1970s or 1980s, when you could easily spot the differences among German cars, Japanese cars, and American cars. Apart from a few cars that trickled-in from the U.K., those were the only places cars came from in those days, and they all had their own nationalistic character. Nowadays you can hardly tell a Kia from an Audi (ask me how I know), which is really a shame, unless of course you bought one of the former like I did. But I digress.

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1991 Acura Integra GS: Endangered Species

I drove a second generation Honda Prelude through much of my five-and-a-half years of college, after the Alfa Spider rusted away and I managed to trade-in the VW Quantum wagon of death on the happy little Honda that Could. I loved that car. Call them boring, call them soulless, but those were the days when Honda made fabulous-handling, well-balanced, reliable front-drivers with some of the best manual transmissions I’ve ever felt in a FWD car. As graduation loomed I started thinking about what I’d buy once I found that big, high-paying job that comes with every bachelor’s degree in communications. The then-new second-generation Acura Integra was the logical choice.

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