But lately, something odd has happened. The vocal minority decrying the isolating influence of automated transmissions seems to have been heard. Fever over the manual-only Porsche 911 R hasn't been dented by the lack of a PDK gearbox and inspired a manual option for the new 911 GT3. Aston Martin still makes manual coupes. And values of the last manual Ferraris and Lamborghinis carry huge premiums over their contemporary automated equivalents.
Is this just a lot of hot air being spouted by a vocal minority of Luddites and a number of journalists (guilty as charged) propagating the myth that a true 'driver's car' is one with a stick and three pedals? Well, the market would still suggest the majority of buyers reject the manual option, where it's offered. BMW says getting on for 90 per cent of M3 and M4 buyers pay the extra £2,645 for the dual-clutch M DCT option. And Jaguar reckons just two per cent of F-Types are sold with the manual gearbox option it introduced to the range back in 2015.
I've just come out of eight months and 13,000 miles in a manual F-Type S Coupe and I think that's a shame. Sure, the eight-speed automatic is a very smooth and – dare I say – appropriate transmission for a car of this type. And Jaguar's manual installation isn't the best of its type. But it added something a bit special to the driving experience.
The F-Type, especially the Coupes like 'mine', are pleasingly old-fashioned cars. The E-Type inspired looks appeal to rose-tinted swinging '60s nostalgia among those of a certain age. But it still looks modern and cool to a younger audience. It's pleasingly old-school to drive too, in a big engine up front, power to the rear kind of way. So the manual gearbox plays to those strengths. Sure, it's not as fast. But if you care about your driving it just adds another level of interaction with the car lost to those with the automatic.