The manual transmission hasn't gone extinct yet, but it becomes more endangered with every passing year. Automakers are cutting costs, electrifying their vehicles and incorporating new active safety features — all of which, tragically, run counter to the continued use of the old-fashioned stick shift.
Now, you still can buy some great new cars with a stick shift, but what was once the standard transmission has become a niche item, aimed mostly at enthusiasts interested in certain vehicles. And for certain vehicles in that group, like the Jeep Wrangler, the departure of the stick may only be a matter of time.
Fortunately for those who want to row their own gears, manuals still abound in the used market. You won’t find that immaculate, low-mileage manual Toyota 4Runner for cheap — but, even amidst exploding used car prices, you can find quite a few fun cars, trucks and SUVs for not a lot of money.
Here are five manual transmission cars we found on sale for less than $10,000.
1999 Mazda MX-5 Miata — $9,000
Cheap, fun, stick shift car? The first thought that popped into your head may be the Mazda MX-5 Miata. And, yes, you can find one for less than 10,000. This 1999 Miata is a stock, older person-owned weekend cruiser with reasonable miles. It hasn't been converted into a track day car on a budget...yet.
1987 Suzuki Samurai — $9,500
You may have heard that the Suzuki Samurai was an excellent, borderline indomitable off-roader for its size — sort of like the Jimny we can't buy. Well, here's a badass off-road modified one rocking huge 33-inch tires and Fox shocks with an eight-inch suspension lift. If that sounds a bit terrifying to drive on the highway, don't sweat it. This Samurai is prepped for you to tow it to the place where you'll be having the fun.
2001 Audi TT Roadster — $9,995
The first-generation Audi TT was a distinctive, stunning automotive design and pretty fun to drive. There's a reason owners hang onto them forever. Here's a black convertible version with 225 hp and a six-speed manual. It has a reasonable 131,000 miles for a 20-year-old car. The brown "baseball optic leather" seats will be a definite conversation starter.
2006 Pontiac Solstice — $8,999
Pontiac had a good thing going in the 2000s before the Great Recession when they were building things like manual transmission roadsters. Here's a red convertible Solstice with fewer than 80,000 miles. It's the less powerful four-cylinder engine, but you can't get everything for less than $10,000.
2010 Volkswagen CC — $9,495
Almost every car writer has a soft spot for the CC. Unlike just about every other mass-market midsize sedan, it defenestrated practicality and went for style and performance. This one only has the four pot, but that still delivered a robust 200 hp when new. This 2010 CC has had several race-y modifications, which the seller asserts were "adult built."