Swapping gears yourself is a badge of pride for most. It's a little bit of extra freedom that shows that not only you can drive, but you're capable of deciding how fast your engine should be running. It's something that not everyone can do -- in the UK, if you pass your test in an automatic car you're not legally allowed to drive stick -- and those who can tend to be proud of the fact.
Performance cars and "proper" driving are synonymous with big engines, big power, and engaging with a car's gearbox with a pedal and a stick. Well, it used to be.
The big brands are steadily binning the stick shift. Ferrari no longer offers a gate, neither does Jaguar, and Audi's RS cars are auto only, too, simply because people don't want them any more.
Automatic gearboxes are faster than ever, and certainly quicker to change ratios than any human. Auto cars are also mechanically better for the car's well-being as they simply won't let a hapless driver over-rev the motor and blow it up. Then there's the efficiency angle; by letting your car take control of the cogs, it can keep you in the most efficient gear for any given situation, thereby keeping emissions down and miles per gallon up.
When you think about it, automatics are a very good idea aren't they? All-around better. But...they lack something. They take some of the experience away from you. The feeling you get when you're tearing down a b-road, engine at full song, smile on your face, one with your car. It may be an old hatchback, it may be a supercar, but whatever it is, it's a machine you're in tune with. Changing gear yourself makes you feel more like a part of the experience you're having, as you're actually driving the car, mastering the machine.
Cars like the GT3 are the embodiment of high-performance fun, surely part of the experience is doing the work yourself? In the case of the 997, it certainly is. It's a wonderful change linked to a stunning engine. It's all drama, all the time. It provides a wonderful link between driver and machine, something I'll miss in the new one.
No doubt the new 911 GT3 is an incredible machine, but I do wonder whether it'll feel as involving as its predecessor.