I don’t know why this surprised me, but my daughter has no idea what UHF TV channels are … or more correctly were.
I just turned 55, and well recall the TV channels of my youth. I grew up in Chicago, and available to us in the Seventies and Eighties were CBS (channel 2), NBC (channel 5), ABC (Channel 7), popular local WGN (channel 9), and our area public-television affiliate WTTW (channel 11).
Because my childhood was one of stark simplicity, only one of our TV sets — the portable 9-inch Philco black-and-white unit — had additional channels, known as UHF.
For those not in the know, the channels listed above are all Very High Frequency (VHF). Ultra High Frequency (UHF) channels started popping up — as I recall — in the early Seventies, but you needed a properly equipped TV to see those stations.
In Chicago we had channels 23 (sometimes), 26, 32, and 44. The ownership and affiliations of these stations was surprisingly volatile, but I recall that 32 was, for a long time, WFLD.
Here was the rub: All the good afternoon viewing (Speed Racer, Prince Planet, and live-action Japanese-import stuff like Ultra Man) ran on the UHF channels, which I had to watch in crappy, small-screen black and white. My therapists knows a lot about this.
But, I digress. In a recent conversation, I learned that my 20-year-old daughter had never heard of UHF TV channels. All of her Sponge Bob viewing came by way of Dish Network via a convenient remote.
Most of those Chicago UHF stations are still around, but the fact that they’re UHF is entirely irrelevant now.
I share this story because it has come to my attention that there are young drivers who are actually unaware of the existence of manual transmissions. Not only can’t they drive stick, they don’t even know that there are sticks that require shifting.
Here’s the worst part: There isn’t much compelling young drivers to know anything about manual transmissions.
According to an article that appeared at Green Car Reports, 2019 was the first year that electric vehicles out-sold cars equipped with manual transmissions. Per numbers from J.D. Power, for 2019, Electric vehicles accounted for 1.6 percent of U.S.-market vehicle sales, while manual-transmission cars and trucks came to just 1.1 percent.
More shocking is how rapidly manual sales are falling. For 2018, 1.5 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. came with stick. That’s a one-year plunge from around 275,000 stick-shift cars to just 190,000. That’s a 30-percent fall in just 12 months.
The sad truth is that stick is dead, and that very few consumers, even enthusiasts, seem to care. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will not be equipped with a manual transmission, and the redesigned 2019 Porsche 911 was introduced without one. Perhaps worse, no Ferrari or Lamborghini is offered with an old-school manual.
Before we completely forget them, we have compiled for you the last American-brand vehicles in which you can still find a manual transmission. Take note of how few remain, and how many are Jeeps.
If you’re saddened about the passing of stick shift, let us know. The place to leave comments is down below.
America’s Last Manual Transmission Vehicles
Engines: 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four, 335-horsepower V6, 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, 650-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8
We’re happy to note that Chevy allows pairing of the available 6-speed manual transmission with every engine in the Camaro arsenal, including the ZL1’s potent supercharged V8.
Engine: 98-horsepower 1.4-liter four
Although Chevy’s other compact offering, the Sonic, is offered only with an automatic transmission, all of Spark’s four trim levels (LS, 1LT, 2LT, and Activ), can be had with stick. Going with the manual will lower your city fuel economy by one, according to the EPA, but save you exactly $1000. A CVT automatic is the only other transmission choice.
Engines: 375-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, 485-horsepower 6.4-liter V8, 717-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8
The only two engines in the Challenger portfolio unavailable with a manual transmission are the standard 3.6-liter V6 (as AWD is paired only with the V6, that feature is also unavailable with stick), and the top 797-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8 in the Redeye.
Engines: 310-horsepower 2.3-liter turbocharged four, 330-horsepower, 460-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, 480-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, 526-horsepower 5.2-liter V8
Enthusiasts delight! Every Mustang engine but one can be had with a manual transmission for 2020, even the potent Shelby GT350, which comes only with stick. Sadly, the awe-inspiring 760-horse Shelby GT500 comes only with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Engine: 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four
Of the eight trim levels available for the 2020 Jeep Compass, only two can be had with a manual transmission. The base Sport can be had with stick and either front-wheel drive or AWD. Only the AWD version of the mid-level Latitude is offered with the 6-speed. It’s worth noting that even import crossovers with stick have become scarce. Only the Kia Soul, Mini Cooper Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and Subaru Crosstrek can still be had with a manual.
Engine: 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V6
Jeep’s much-anticipated midsize pickup truck comes with a host of fun features, including a manual transmission. Unfortunately, Gladiator’s newly available 3.0-liter turbodiesel pairs only with an 8-speed automatic.
Engine: 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V6
Though the Wrangler is offered with five engine options, it is only the 3.6-liter V6 that is available with a manual transmission. The optional 3.6 with eTorque (mild hybrid system), 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, and 2.0-liter turbocharged four and its eTorque version pair exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission. North Edition and Rubicon Recon trim levels also cannot be equipped with stick.