The seventh generation Impala was launched in 1994 in SS trim, which meant power from a 260 horsepower LT1 borrowed from the Corvette. Unfortunately the Impala SS didn’t come with a manual gearbox and was only available with GM’s 4-speed 4L60E slushbox, but this next car has a T-56 manual 6-speed gearbox and is slammed to the ground with an air ride suspension. If it isn’t stock…it might as well be wild. Find this 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS offered for $26,500 near Phoenix, AZ via craigslist. Tip from Rock On!
Tipper Art sent in a sweet Mazda 5 wagon with a 5-speed manual the other day and I thought it was a bummer that it wasn’t the third generation Mazda 5 that was available with a 6-speed and the more torquey 2.5 liter MZR 4-banger…and then I found this smiling face on my local craigslist. Still needs the upgrade to the JDM Karakuri 7-seat setup. Find this 2014 Mazda 5 Sport with 6-speed offered for $10,500 in Santa Monica, CA via craigslist.
Seeing a car like this reminds me that Honda made some great manual transmission equipped cars back in the 1990s and this one is…whoa…2010? Are you serious? A 6-speed manual in a 2-door Honda coupe in 2010? Hang on. Consults various interweb sources of information. This is the 8th generation Accord, 2008-2012 and obviously it was available with a stick, it was replaced with the 9th gen Accord 2013-2017 which was also available with a 6-speed in the i-4 and V6 coupe, which was then replaced by the 10th generation Accord which started in 2018 and was available with a 6-speed in a sedan (the coupe was discontinued) until the 2021 model year when Honda made the Accord only available with some terrible CVT or a 10-speed-slushbox. We only have ourselves to blame because instead of driving new cars we’ve been tooling around in old depreciated manual-gearbox BMWs and 60s muscle cars but I still weep for the future of mankind. Find this 2010 Honda Accord Coupe offered for $8,600 in Sunnyvale, CA via craigslist.
BMW’s E39 generation 540i is a legend. They are not M5 fast, but they are not M5 expensive. They are also more comfortable in everyday driving than an M5 and cheaper to maintain. I’ve always said that if you buy a 330ZHP or a 335i you’ll just hit yourself for not going to full send and getting the M3, but with the 540i, it might be a more sensible car for the guy looking for some executive class ride for cheap. This next one has a few needs, but it’s got a 6-speed manual. Find this 1998 BMW 540i offered for $5000 in Little Italy neighborhood of downtown San Diego, CA via craigslist.
Volvo has never been known as a performance brand, but they did dip their Swedish feet into the proverbial speed pool in the early aughts with a few shiny things wearing an “R” badge. It actually started earlier with the 850R in 1995, but that was still front-wheel-drive and only sporty compared to a 4-cylinder powered brick boat house like the 240, but in 2003 Volvo kicked up their speed game with the turbocharged 5-cylinder V70R that put out 300 horsepower into all four wheels. It wasn’t as fast as the German (BMW M, Audi S) or Japanese (STi/Evo) competition, but you could buy one for the family because your wife thought it wasn’t a toy. Find this 2004 Volvo V70R offered for $13,000 in San Bruno, CA via craigslist.
The 6th generation (code name S550) of the Ford Mustang was released for the 2015 model year with a new aggressive body style (it looks so much wider than the previous gen, but it was only 1.5 inches wider and 1.4 inches lower) and an independent rear end for the first time for the original pony car. Ford also re-introduced a turbo 4-cylinder version known as the EcoBoost, which was a little 2.3 liter 4-cylinder engine in the Mustang was rated at 310 horsepower. Todays example might have a salvage title, but it also has less than 50k miles on the odometer and a 6-speed manual. Find this 2015 Ford Mustang offered for $12,500 in Phoenix, AZ via craigslist.
The G35 was a model sold at Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti in the USA starting in the 2003 model year. The G35 is powered by a 260 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque version of Nissan’s VQ35DE that is located far back in the chassis (Nissan calls it FM -front midships) mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox that is connected to a viscous limited slip differential out back. Today’s example is offered for a decent price for the number of miles and condition. Find this 2004 Infiniti G35 offered for $8990 in Canton, MA via cars.com. Tip from Art C.
In the early 2000s, the Volkswagen product planners recognized that there was an entire demographic of people who loved driving fast water-cooled Volkswagens. These weren’t stock Volkswagens, but modified Dubs — things that had extra horsepower, extra handling, and extra fun. VW decided to cash in on this by selling a pre-modified VW Golf called the R32 that added a VR6 engine, all-wheel-drive and a 6-speed to the basic Golf…and they didn’t sell many (5000 in total for one model year) because people who wanted a fast VW didn’t want to spend the $30k that VW was asking. The thing that the product planners didn’t realize was that people wanted a CHEAP, fun, fast VW…and that just happened to be the used $1k Jetta they found on craigslist or inherited from a crazy aunt. Anyway, after 17 years and 200k miles this Golf R32 is finally depreciated to the point where a water-cooled VW fan might consider buying it. Find this 2004 Volkswagen R32 bidding on ebay with a $10,000 buy-it-now located in Charleston, SC.
Read out loud and really fast for best effect: Hello car fans and welcome to another edition of Unlikely Manuals — the game show where even if you lose, you go home with a sore left leg and copy of our home game. Today’s next contestant is a late model Korean economy car with a plastic engine cover emblazoned with a meaningless acronym related to its particularly fuel injection strategy (nobody ever said; I wasn’t gonna buy this car because I wasn’t sure about the method of fuel injection, until I popped the hood and saw the chromed GTDiMqVPDQ badge and then I was sold) and you’d expect to open the door and be greeted with some steering wheel mounted buttons that were connected to a CVT that has all the positive engagement and auditory appeal of an immersion blender in a can of marbles. Lo and behold, if you look past the low rent cloth seats and black plastic interior trim that was inspired by the Harbor Freight free coupon lineup, you’ll find a manual gearbox shifter. Granted, that shifter might have the feel of an immersion blender in a jar of kimchi, but if I’m gonna drive an economy car and save on fuel, it better be manual gearbox…and I don’t care about the injection. Find this 2012 Kia Soul with 6-speed offered for $4,500 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.
This next car comes from Jeff who writes: A great example of a solid sports car that checks so many of the boxes. On the higher end of the NADA price spectrum, but when it comes to mileage, condition, performance/durability and fun factor, this is hard to beat. Find this 2000 Chevrolet Corvette offered for $16,000 in Columbus, NE via craigslist.