The Lost Art of Changing Gears as Told Through the Fast and the Furious

Even the most cherished skills for manipulating our machines eventually lose their utility.

At some point in the not-too-distant past, the key technological moment in a teenager's life might have been when she learned how to depress the clutch with her left foot, change her car's gear with her right hand, while giving the engine gas with her right foot. As the driver improved, the action became automatic and if you were a particular kind of dumb, rural teenager (like myself), you may have tried to see how fast you could get your car going in a given direction. The keys to this (I may have discovered) are when and how you shift the gears. I felt much mildly unsafe joy in getting from 0 to 60 as quickly as possible in my little Ford Escort.

Nowadays, though, more than 90 percent of American cars come with automatic transmissions. And the deskilling of teen drivers, I'm sure, has begun. One more skill, like efficient rotary phone dialing, will go missing and more more system will become a little easier to use and more opaque.

So it was with great nostalgia that I watched this incredible video of the hundreds of gear shifting clips from all five Fast and Furious movies. I've never actually seen these films and luckily, now that we have this YouTube video, I'll never have to. Imagine what this will look like to the kids of the future, almost all of whom will not know how to "drive stick."

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