I'm on the verge of getting a recent (as in 98-02) Firebird, and have a
pretty good idea what I want. One little question on my mind is
whether to get an automatic or manual gearbox.
I've heard one opinion saying: you can shift the automatic if you
really want to, you'll rarely use the upper gears on a 6-speed anyhow,
and "unless you're going to race" the automatic makes more sense for
this car. And no, I'm not going to race.
I've heard another opinion saying: the automatic is no fun in this car,
get the 6-speed. :)
I don't have a lot of experience to guide me on this point. I know how
to drive a stick, but it's been some years back and it was all jeeps
and pickup trucks, not sports cars. Could any of you can offer your
thoughts, opinions, pros and cons?
Well, as fast as the 5.7 cars are auto or stick, I could have fun with
either one. As far as what I would buy? Not a stick, never, not a
chance. I had to borrow a friend's car a while back, and around town,
the shifting and clutch drove me nuts after a half hour or so. I was
very happy to give it back.
But, it's up to you...
Uh, priced out an LS1 clutch lately? I can get a rebuilt TH350 for the
price of a stock clutch for my TA. (the factory flywheel is good for
zero resurfacing and must be replaced when you smoke the clutch.)
For the OP... it's up to you. Burnouts are easily accomplished with
either. It depends on what you want to do, how you drive, etc. I have
a six speed and I prefer sticks to slushboxes myself, but there are days
in rush hour where I can see where an auto would be nice.
No, because I have yet to own a five speed automatic Trans Am.
fwiw, from my summit catalog:
TCI street fighter transmissions:
*I don't think these include a TQ* - add $100-$500 for a TQ.
(a local shop can rebuild my TH350 for about $400.)
The stock clutch from a GM dealer was $600.
A RAM clutch/pp is $410.
I don't even want to know how much for a new T56 in a crate, but the 6
speed richmond in the summit catalog was $3000.
Neither is cheap. But the stock clutches in the LS1 cars are barely
able to handle stock power, and don't survive under abusive conditions.
(a little spray and some drag radials = mondo slippage at 30,000 miles.)
That said, I'm a stick guy. My truck is a stick, my TA is a stick. My
dirt track Camaro is an auto because the rules say it has to be
otherwise it would be a stick. (and it was originally a stickshift car.)
for the OP -> try and drive one of each. Ask yourself if you want the
aggravation of a clutch in rush hour traffic or if you like to get
rubber on the 1-2 upshift (in rush hour traffic if you're evil) and
using both feet to drive is just fine. Don't buy one and try and
convert it if you don't like it - it's mucho bucks to do it...
It depends on personal preference. Myself, I will never own another stick
shift again! As I get older the "enjoyment" of shifting is getting short.
If you are going to use the car as a daily driver I would go auto. For fun,
maybe a stick.
The standard shift is better then the automatic overdrive's they
offered from 93 to 2002. 5th & 6th gears are overdrives for highway
cruising. So you do use them.
Also the standard shift cars came with 3.42 rear gears where as the
automatics had 2.73 or 3.23 rear gears.
I drive approximately 50,000 miles a year, most of that in a service
van. The van has a 4 speed auto which is fine for my daily driving
since I don't want to be thinking about which gear I need to be in
running through NYC or Westchester traffic.
When I driving in a car I have a need to row my own gears. In my
driveway there are 4 cars and one van, all of the cars have manual
gear boxes in them. I believe all of them to make better gas milage
than if they had slushboxes in them.
In the end it's up to your own personal likes and dislikes. Do you
want learn to be one with your car or do you just want to drive it.
Sure you can move the gear selector up and down in an automatic but
just how often will you after the initial newness of the car wears
off? I always used the auto gear selector when I had automatic cars,
I guess I have a need to do more than just turn a steering wheel when
out on the road.
68' Camaro RS
88' Firebird Formula
00' Mustang GT Vert
What's your 4th car? And with my experiences... I drove an auto for 8
years..(did drive a few people's manuals once or twice here and there...
then I got the 'Bird and drove that for a week. Now as I am back with the
auto.. all I can think of is getting back in the 'bird. So like everyone
said.. its personal preference.. and if you will be driving from stopsign
to stopsign every block.. it might get annoying to have a stick.. but if
you are on open roads.. go for it.
1985 Blue Camaro 2.8L auto w/T-tops (aka "Tazmaro")
1988 Blue Firebird Formula 5.0L auto w/T-tops
1985 Brown Firebird 5.7L (360) 5-speed NO T-tops
The 4th car is a 97' Hyundai Tiburon that at present has 187,000 +
miles on the clock. We bought the car in 1998 for $10,000 with
something like 24,000 miles on it. I'd like to go out on a limb and
say that it has to be the least expensive car that I've ever owned.
Practically nothing but scheduled mantainance has ever been done to
it. Two alternators have been replaced and a couple of relays, not
bad for a 9 year old car with plenty of miles on it. It's been from
NY to Atlanta Ga and also to Kansas City Ks. Definately a fun car to
drive, handles like its on rails. It needs more power, though it does
ok for what its intended purpose is.
68' Camaro RS
88' Firebird Formula
00' Mustang GT Vert
I have a 96 6-speed Camaro myself and I love it. The only time I ever wish I
had an automatic is at the drag strip. The LT1 has enough torque that it
will hold 6th gear down as low as 50 mph. I do realize though that stick
shifts are not for everyone. No one can really tell you which one is best
for you. You will have to decide for yourself. - Gary
Automatic transmissions are for minivans and SUVs.
A sports car with a manual is more fun to drive. You'll get used to it
after a week and never want to go back. I drive in heavy traffic 2+
hours a day with a 6-speed and still wouldn't trade for an auto.
It's a shame there are so few of them out there. GM seems to think
we're all too lazy to drive for ourselves.
If you buy a 6-speed, disable the skip-shift immediately. It's
annoying and dangerous and easy to get rid of.
It's a -sports- car for crying out loud. Only a nub without any hair on his
ass would buy a sports car with an automatic transmission. That point is not
lost in the resale market. LS-1's with Manual 6 speeds, all else being
equal, almost always have a higher resale value. Trans-Am, Corvette, Camaro,
what ever, especially if you get it in a convertible.
Shift an automatic?? WOW! That's worse than having sex wearing a rubber.
At $3.00+/gallon and the Chinese getting a bigger share of the oil market
every day, you want to get in the habit of using 5 and 6th gear. Unless you
never drive over 30mph, it makes a noticible difference in your gas milage.
You will get a bit better milage on the highway and quite a bit better
milage around town with a 6-speed manual than an automatic. Of course if gas
milage was the only consideration, we'd all be driving Honda Civics.
If an automatic makes "more sense", why don't you just buy a Buick Park
Avenue Ultra and be done with it?
I don't know about "no fun", hard to imagine any LS1 being "no fun", but
autos sure as hell aren't near as much fun.
See above about nubs.
Of course, if all your game is, is running stop light to stop light, an
automatic with a good stall converter will blow most rice rocketeers away
off the line. Not much other use for them in a Trans-Am though.
You can't rev up the engine and pop the clutch with an automatic....
Downshifting to slow down in a late model auto is very different than
manual. The engine braking in an auto is missing in some gears. Sports cars
should have manual transmissions.....unless they are driven by old farts
like me. If you're young get a stick. If you're old, get an auto because you
never know when that knee is gonna be botherin' you.
i have a six speed in my car and i have drove an automatic and hands down the
best one was the stick. you can powerslide through the first 3 gears and the
automatic had problems accelerating past 130 cause of the gear ratio, where
as my 6 speed will easily make it past 160 trust me its funner. oh better
doughnuts to. unless you get caought then it sux
Tony Belding wrote:
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