For Rob Dahm, manuals are still the way to go

It’s always interesting to see a minor car celebrity of sorts pop up on your normal, everyday car Facebook group. So when Rotary wizard and Youtuber Rob Dahm popped into the Manual Elitist J*rks Facbook group, they were all ears.

Rob Dahm dropped a little anecdote how, during the development of his Mazda RX-7 3-Rotor , he was “asked” to swap in a state-of-the-art dual clutch transmission to make shifting that much easier. Dahm instead declined and instead decided on a custom T56 Magnum 6-speed, one of the best American-made manuals one can buy.

Here’s a screenshot of his post and what he said verbatim below.

I was asked to put a DCT in my 3 rotor RX-7. I went and bought a faceplated 6 Speed T56 Magnum instead. Refuse to be taken out of the full driving experience. For the record it already has a 6 speed T56 Magnum haha I just want to show that manual can be competitive still. Keep up the good fight j*rks!

While dual clutch transmissions share a lot of the same principles as regular manual transmissions, since a computer engages and disengages the sets of clutches between gear shifts, to purists, it’s not a real manual.

The T-56 Magnum, however, is a traditional style manual. Made by Borg Warner and used in many modern high-horsepower muscle car applications (Viper, Corvette, and Mustang Cobra R to name a few,) it’s renowned for its strength and durability.

Dahm made a little video describing how complicated it is to mate an American-made transmission onto a JDM 20B rotary engine. A lot of custom grinding, parts sourcing, and craftsmanship is involved.

Dahm later published a video with everything buttoned up and working.

As you can see (and hear) it’s easy to see why Dahm (and most enthusiasts) prefer a traditional manual. When set up correctly, it’s engaging, visceral to the senses, and gives the driver additional control.

In a world continuously evolving towards automation, it’s understandable for enthusiasts to stick with the tried and true. When executed well, it just works. The marginal gains going up to a DCT don’t outweigh the human joys of literally “grabbing your own gears.”

Keep holding out, Rob. For posterity’s sake, at least.


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