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I got my 2003 MR2 with the SMT back from DD Performance Research a few days ago. My car now has a manual tranny. I will never talk crap about people who drive a manual tranny! I know how hard it is to find parts for the SMT, so I decided to go with the manual tranny. I'm 57 years old and I had a crash course on driving a manual 19 years ago when I started selling cars. The old guy that taught me gave me 10 mins to figure it out or walk back to the dealership. I got the jest of it, so I didn't have to walk.

In those 19 years, I could count the times I drove a manual car. Other salespeople would ask who could drive a manual car and I would jump at the opportunity to do so. Driving around a parking lot is NOT the same as driving on the street. I've watched several YouTube videos on driving a manual car like 100 times to refresh my memory. Took my car out for a late-night drive, I missed the last few inns of the Astros game, hoping the traffic would be light. I forgot I live in Houston, home of the 2022 World Series Champions, where there is always traffic. I didn't stall but several short-tempered people blew at me and gave me the finger for taking too long to pull away at the light. I really need to work on the pulling away from a stop and 2nd to 3rd shifting. Not smooth at all. Down shifting at the right time needs work too.

It was a little overwhelming at first. There's a lot going on all at once and my simple brain was overloaded. Overtime I will get the hang of it or blow something up on the car. If you see an old man in a 2003 Silver MR2 driving like a noob, it's me. Be gentle and this is why I will never talk crap about people who drive a manual tranny!
I learned how to drive in an old Dodge truck that had three on the tree and the indicator was broken. I have to say that was an adventure.
 

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It's all about muscle memory. There is a ton of great advice in this thread. Before long it will be second nature and you won't even think about what you are doing. It just happens.


I learned stick in a Mk1 VW Rabbit somewhere around 1994/1995..
 

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2003 MR2 with the SMT. Front: 205/45/16, Rear 215/40/17. Sport Tuning T9-2 Black Mach Lip Wheels
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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
Good on you for going for it! I've been watching the process of your Spyder on Instagram for ages and was hoping you'd have a good experience diving into driving stick.
I've been watching you, watching me for some time now. :ROFLMAO: Your car is the color I wanted but silver is okay too. I spent an hour in an empty parking lot going through the gears. I tend to overthink EVERYTHING but I'm improving little by little. People were wondering some guy is doing loops in the parking lot. I have my own personal skid pad!

I want to think everyone for the words of encouragement. MR2 people are the best!

Tire Wheel Cloud Car Sky
 

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63 Mercedes 190 with...4 on the tree. That was the worst car ever in high school. I lost a drag race to a Pinto with an automatic, by a lot. I was so glad when my dad borrowed it and got rear ended on his way to work.
 

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My 39 Studebaker pickup is proof against being stolen, or wallet parking. Dman few can even figure out how to even release emergency brake or. start the engine. Starting on the far left side almost against the kick panel is the emergency brake pedal with the release above that pedal. In the top left corner is a small 1 inch diameter 2 inch high button that wad the brights, dimmer switch. Then comes the clutch, brake, and accelerator pedal. THEN to the right of that is a round 3 inch high pedal that is the starter pedal. The transmission is a three on the tree. I have only met a few people younger than me that know what the dimmer switch is and fewer that know what the starter pedal is. Even more fun is the Choke is not labeled.The chance of being car jacked is almost nil.
I learned the drive at 8 years old with a three on the tree in fields.THat pickup also had the foot pedal start.It was an old GMC pickup. Oh yea, my wife can drive it also.
 

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2003 MR2 with the SMT. Front: 205/45/16, Rear 215/40/17. Sport Tuning T9-2 Black Mach Lip Wheels
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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Progress report. I'm feeling more comfortable with the manual transmission. I still have a lot to learn but I'm improving each time I drive. I stalled at the stoplight, and I didn't freak out. I calmly restated the car while a dude in a F-150 was riding his horn and I drove off. Downshifts are getting better also. I was able to blip the throttle on most of my downshifts. I'm so glad most of Houston is flat. Still need to work on the incline starts. It's starting to become enjoyable.
 

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Progress report. I'm feeling more comfortable with the manual transmission. I still have a lot to learn but I'm improving each time I drive. I stalled at the stoplight, and I didn't freak out. I calmly restated the car while a dude in a F-150 was riding his horn and I drove off. Downshifts are getting better also. I was able to blip the throttle on most of my downshifts. I'm so glad most of Houston is flat. Still need to work on the incline starts. It's starting to become enjoyable.
Practice, practice, practice. Even very experienced drivers with years of experience will sometimes stall pulling out, maybe from being a bit careless or starting in the wrong gear (3rd doesn't work very well - did that last week). If you drive both manual and auto, you might forget to push in the clutch when stopping if distracted, or alternatively push in the "clutch" on an auto. That can get exciting. Yep, the ABS works!

The parking brake trick to hold the car slightly on inclines until the clutch starts to engage works very well. I taught my 60+ year old mother in law to drive stick, and one regular exercise was to stop on a steep hill (in the middle of nowhere or a parking lot) and make her start without stalling or burning up the clutch. She pulled up the parking brake (a pull up lever type like a Spyder) with the release button pushed in to keep the car from rolling until the clutch starting to drag, but eventually didn't need it. Her driving and especially her "language" skills improved. I didn't know she knew such words!
 

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If you drive both manual and auto, you might forget to push in the clutch when stopping if distracted, or alternatively push in the "clutch" on an auto. That can get exciting. Yep, the ABS works!
If I had a nickel for every time I've found the "clutch" in an automatic....& every time its just before coming to a stop when parking since thats where I clutch-in to roll the last few feet. It's impressive how violent a stop from 3-5mph can be.

Hill starts will come time. The parking brake trick is good for steep hills but as you get better pedal control (both left & right) you'll be just fine for everything except San Francisco style inclines.
 
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2003 MR2 with the SMT. Front: 205/45/16, Rear 215/40/17. Sport Tuning T9-2 Black Mach Lip Wheels
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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
The fear level is down 10 to about 3.5 now. I'm feeling comfortable with each drive. When you hit the perfect shift, in my mind, it does put a little smile on your face.
 
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