Tag Archives: Manual Transmission

Mercedes-Benz SLK

The SLK is famous for its roof – the automatic retractable hardtop transforms it from coupe to roadster in 30 seconds. While the SLK is a two-seat open-air automobile, it’s not a performance or handling maniac like some of its roadster competitors. But SLK moves in that direction for 1999 with the new availability of five-speed manual transmission and optional AMG-designed Sport Package.

In addition to cosmetic enhancements (side sills, and new front and rear facias), the Sport Package adds handling muscle via a bigger version of its staggered wheel and tire set up (225/45ZR17 front, 245/40ZR17 rear). Motivation remains the duty of supercharged 2.3-litre “four” which cranks out 185 hp, and 200 lb. ft. of torque anywhere between 2,500 and 4,800 rpm. Also carried over is the driver-adaptive 5-speed automatic.

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1981 AMC Eagle 5-door wagon

In a used model, but the Pontiac 151-cid “Iron Duke” four became the standard engine beginning with the ’81s. Offered initially with a fulltime 4WD system, for ’81 a switchable 2/4WD mechanism called Selec-Trac was optionally available and became standard beginning with the ’82s. Manual transmission standardized for ’81 and a 5-speed option came along the next year in Waverly Auto Mall Winnipeg Manitoba. The SX/4 models were dropped for ’84 and the standard engine became an AMC-built 150-cid four that replaced the “Iron Duke.” For ’85, the 4-cylinder engine and base 4-speed manual transmission were scratched and the standard 4WD system gained “shift-on-the-fly” capability. All Eagles record only fair fuel economy, but have acceptable on-road behavior and a very good ride for 4WD vehicles. Back seat space in the SX/4 and Kammback is as cramped as it is in equivalent Spirits. Performance in the “senior” Eagles adequate with six and marginal with the four, though the latter is acceptable in the smaller, lighter models. Selec-Trac feature yields barely any fuel economy improvement over the fulltime system, but is a plus for reducing tire and driveline wear. Construction quality generally high, interior appointments pleasant, bordering on gaudy. Repair data sketchy, but body and suspension problems fairly common; paint and driveline ills also show up on 1980-81 models. Mediocre judged strictly as a passenger car, but 4WD has appeal for owners in snowbelt states and those who’d like to venture off road occasionally.

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Size Up the Right Car

Interior and Trunk Capacity:

MINICOMPACT: 4 passengers; less than 2.4 m3 (85 ft3)

Advantages: Excellent for city driving; maneuverable; easy to park. Lowest fuel consumption of any type of car; some models claim 4.8 L/100 km (59 mpg) with diesel engine and manual transmission.

Disadvantages: Poor passenger protection in a collision. Highway performance only fair due to small engine. Back seat cramped for adults on long trips. Limited trunk space. Fewest available options.

SUBCOMPACT: 4 passengers; 2.4-2.8 m3 (85-100 ft3)

Advantages: Advantages of minicompact plus added trunk space and back seat legroom. Low insurance rates, depreciation, and annual maintenance costs. Excellent fuel economy, especially with diesel.

Disadvantages: Many minicompact disadvantages. Can be noisy and cramped for four passengers on long trips. Lack of power for towing, although some manufacturers offer optional larger engine. Few options.

COMPACT: 4-5 passengers; 2.8-3.1 m3 (100-110 ft3)

Advantages: Many advantages of smaller cars, but less road noise and more available options, including better highway performance with larger engines. Good all-round car for small family.

Disadvantages: Fair protection in a collision. Insufficient power for towing larger trailer. Limited passenger legroom. Headroom sometimes sacrificed for style. Harsher ride than larger cars.

MIDSIZE: 5-6 passengers; 3.1-3.4 m3 (110-120 ft3)

Advantages: Good compromise between large car and compact. Wide choice of engine sizes and options. More luggage and passenger space, less noise than smaller cars. Fair fuel economy.

Disadvantages: Higher initial cost than for smaller cars. Mediocre fuel economy on models with large engines and power options. Higher maintenance costs. Somewhat harder to maneuver and park.

FULL-SIZE: 6 passengers; 3.4 m3 (120 ft3) or more

Advantages: Generally best highway performance and passenger protection in collisions. Best size for towing trailers. Most options available and largest passenger and cargo space for an automobile.

Disadvantages: Higher fuel, insurance, and upkeep costs than for smaller models. Limited maneuverability, even with power steering and brakes. Requires large parking space. Highest depreciation.

VAN: 5-9 passengers; 3.4-4.5 m3 (120-220 ft3)

Advantages: Most cargo and passenger space; can be converted to a recreational vehicle complete with beds, stove, and sink. Good for towing trailers. Fair fuel economy with smaller engine.

Disadvantages: Full-size vans difficult to park and maneuver because of size. Poor fuel economy with larger engines. Difficult to heat and cool evenly. Mini-vans sacrifice cargo room for ease of handling.

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Road Performance

Pro: The 2.2L four gives sparkling performance without excessive noise. The revised five-speed manual transmission works very well with smooth and light clutch action. The four-speed automatic has overdrive to help save fuel. Excellent handling in town or on the highway. Firm but well controlled ride due to increased body rigidity, a reworked suspension and wider, larger-diameter wheels. Improved variable-assist power steering provides excellent road feel. Excellent braking, especially with ABS.

Con: No 4×4 or V6 option. Automatic transmission is a bit rough. Hard suspension is even harder with the Si, making for tiresome journeys over rough roads. The Accord still tends to understeer.

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Coupe and Convertible

Body styles: 2-door convertible . 2-door sedan . 4-door sedan

Engines: 2.5L 4-cylinder . 3.0L V6

Transmissions: 5-speed manual . 3-speed automatic . 4-speed automatic/front-wheel drive

Fuel consumption: 1993 LeBaron convertible: 2.5L 4-cylinder with 3-speed automatic: 10.7 L/100km (26 mpg) . 3.0L V6 with 5-speed manual: 12.4L/100km (23 mpg); with 4-speed automatic: 10.5L/100km (27mpg) . 3.0L V6 with 3-speed automatic: 11.1L/100km (25 mpg)

The LeBaron name stems from the New York custom coach-building firm founded in 1920 and purchased by Chrysler in the late 1940s. The name was appended to so many disparate vehicles that the public became confused as to what a LeBaron was, and it was eventually withdrawn.

The LeBaron that emerged in 1987 spawned an attractive convertible that was produced until 1995, two years after the coupe had been retired. The LeBaron coupe was replaced by the Sebring coupe in 1995, and the convertible LeBaron was superseded by the Sebring convertible in 1996.

The LeBaron coupe and convertible could be propelled by a 100-hp 2.5L four-cylinder engine or a 3.0L V6 with 141 horsepower. Transmissions offered for 1993 and 1994 included a five-speed manual and three-or four-speed automatics. In 1993 the V6 LeBaron two-door models were offered with either a five-speed manual transmission or an automatic with four speeds. The 2.5L four-cylinder engine was available only with a three-speed automatic in 1993. Convertibles sold in 1994 and 1995 were delivered exclusively with the V6.

The LeBaron two-door was a very attractive car that was updated skillfully and whose lines aged well. The interior of the two-door is pleasantly styled and upholstered in attractive fabrics or leather. The seats are comfortable and there is sufficient room in the car for four adults, but those in the front will be happier. The rear passenger quarters can become claustrophobic because of the wide C-pillar of both coupe and convertible. A few examples of late LeBaron convertibles can still be found in good condition, and they provide a cheap entry into the world of top-down motoring. If you have the money, early examples of the chic Sebring convertible are worth the extra dollars.

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Compact and Mid-size Cars

The Galant/Eclipse platform, featured Mitsubishi engines, a single-overhead cam 2.4L four-cylinder with 142 horsepower, and a single-overhead-cam V6 with 200 horsepower. The sedan and convertible featured a four-speed automatic exclusively, with an optional SportShift manumatic self-shifting feature. The Sebring coupe offered a four-speed automatic, an automatic with AutoStick, and a rare five-speed manual transmission.

Though the three body styles resemble each other, there are significant differences under the skin. The sedan and convertible are Chrysler products, with Chrysler bodies and drive trains. They are fundamentally the same in front of the windshield, but the convertible is built on a shorter wheelbase and is longer and taller than the sedan. The sedan has a clean shape, but followed the styling trend towards blockier, edgier looks. All models display the ersatz-1960s Ferrari grille Chrysler first showed on the 1998 Concorde. The coupe is the same length as the sedan, but unrelated mechanically. The Sebring coupe is the fraternal twin of the Mitsubishi Eclipse but has a longer wheelbase and is a foot longer overall. The coupe shares the Ferrari-esque nose but little else with the Chrysler-produced Sebrings. With its chic grille and clean flanks, the Sebring coupe is less sporty but arguably more elegant than the Eclipse.

The Sebring sedan and convertible interiors are more carefully assembled from better components than their predecessors. The dashboard has clear, legible instrumentation and simple, logical controls, except for the optional CD changer that is hung from below the dash and is difficult to load on the move. The rest of the cabin is conservative, with serviceable fittings and upholstery. The sedan has enough room and acceptable seats; the rear seat cushion is mounted too low for optimum comfort, but if it were higher, headroom would be tighter than it is. The rear seat isn’t as spacious as on the new Japanese rivals. The large trunk is easily accessed, and its lid is supported by gas struts, not luggage-mauling gooseneck hinges.  The convertible shares the sedan’s dash and overall interior style. The cabin of the Limited convertible model manages to look plush. Interior room is good, but the shorter wheelbase and the need to move the rear seat forward to clear the folded top eat into legroom. The top fits well and has a defroster-equipped glass rear window. The trunk is roomy, considering it shares space with the folded top. The Sebring coupe’s interior is derived from the Mitsubishi Eclipse, and is very similar in style. A low roof line makes ingress-egress awkward, and headroom is tight.

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Lincoln’s Vision

Sometimes the story is about the relationship between the owner and the car. Sometimes the story is about the owner’s vision of what the car could be. And sometimes the story is the car itself. Then, of course, you have Calgary’s Murray Hoines and his ’49 Lincoln where the story is a little of all of the above.

Lincoln has been building cars for the luxury end of the automobile market since 1921, and a division of Ford Motor Co. since 1922.

The make’s main claim to fame for most, if not all, of its existence has been as the main domestic competitor to the higher-level brands of General Motors.

When people think of the Lincoln, they think of a smooth ride and luxurious appointments. High performance? Not so much. There was a brief time in its history, however, that Lincolns were serious racing contenders.

The Lincoln for 1949 was all-new sporting much more modern styling than the ’48s and powered by a 337-cubic-inch (5.5-L) V-8 originally designed for Ford’s line of medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Also new in 1949 was a racing circuit in the southern United States that would feature strictly stock automobiles, just like the ones people were lining up at dealerships to buy. The circuit was called NASCAR and its first race was held in Charlotte, N.C., on a dirt track on June 19.

After 197 dusty, bumpy, wreck-strewn laps, a ’49 Lincoln was declared the winner.

It’s unlikely that the father of Murray Hoines was influenced to buy his ’49 Lincoln by that NASCAR win. Nevertheless, the car the elder Hoines purchased was a ’49 Lincoln coupe with a three-speed manual transmission and big, flathead V-8, just like the winner in Charlotte.