Market Spotlight

Manuals matter - which exotic cars have the biggest stick-shift premium?

by Andrew Newton
1 October 2022 6 min read
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Photo by Broad Arrow

We can shout all we want about its merits of tactility and driver engagement, but the sad truth is that the stick shift is rapidly approaching extinction in new cars. The issues driving this phenomenon are both consumer-level and systemic; according to Cars.com data, fewer than 2 percent of new vehicle sales in 2020 were manuals, no doubt buoyed by the fact that most manufacturers wouldn’t sell you a manual even if you wanted. Conversely, the collector car market doesn’t reflect that trend at all. It’s quite the opposite, as nearly every vehicle in the Hagerty Price Guide is worth more with a manual when one is available.

Maybe in 50 years, a manual gear lever will be a curious old-car quirk, operating a clutch pedal will be considered an arcane skill, and the ease of use offered by automatic and dual-clutch transmissions will be reflected in prices. For now, though, manual transmissions are absolutely en vogue within the collector car community. Nowhere is this more true than in later exotic cars from the 1990s and 2000s.

Often showroom duds when they were new, cars with stick shifts are highly prized among collectors and enthusiasts now. We scoured our data to discern in what sectors of collector market the three-pedal shuffle hits the hardest, and modern-era exotics came out as a clear winner. From there, we picked out the examples for which a manual represents the most value.

Bonhams

1995-2003 Ferrari 456

Despite Pininfarina lines, a throaty V-12, and a star-studded roster of owners that includes both Shaq and Michael Schumacher, the 456 remains one of the more underappreciated Ferraris. Its (comparably) supple ride, expansive interior, and long-legged attitude meant it was also commonly equipped with an automatic over Maranello’s delicious six-speed gated manual transmission. What’s more, the 456 was also built before Ferrari offered everything with it’s “F1-style” single-clutch automated manual, so automatic 456s are automatics through and through, torque converter and all.

The 456 sold for over $200,000 when it was new before quickly falling into "cheap Ferrari" territory, with decent ones trading for under $50,000 not all that long ago. That's changed quite recently—at least for the stick shift "GT" versions—and the 456 is a perfect example of how in-demand manuals on late-model exotic cars have become. Ten years ago, manual and auto versions of this 2+2 were fairly similar in value. Now, the stick shift cars are worth over twice as much.

Broad Arrow

2005-2010 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti (+120% for manual)

The 612 took Ferrari's 2+2 torch from the 456, and though it's not the most exciting iteration of the cavallino rampante, it represented a substantial leap forward in terms of both tech and design thanks to its aluminum spaceframe and F1-style single-clutch gearbox. And, since the 612 was more of a relaxed, mature Ferrari (nearly half of all buyer interest comes from Baby Boomers), most buyers eschewed the third pedal for two shift paddles. A manual was technically available, but of the 3,025 cars built, just 199 got a stick.

This scarcity is why our price guide assigns a 120 percent premium for a three-pedal 612, on top of its current #2 (Excellent) value of $121,000. Last year in Monterey, a manual 612 finished in rare Nuovo Grigio Ingrid sold for a whopping $324,000. More recently in 2022, a 15,000-mile car sold for $294,000, and a 41,000-mile car sold for $201,000. One more up for auction this month has a presale estimate of $200,000 - $250,000.

Bring a Trailer/1911nineeleven

2004-2014 Lamborghini Gallardo (+50% for manual)

We've reported on the Mucielago's big stick shift premium before; in the Hagerty Price Guide, a manual Murci is worth 35 percent more than one with the "e-gear" single-clutch manu-matic. For manual V-12 Lamborghinis, the Murci was the end of the line, as the stick dropped from the Big Lambo with the introduction of the 2012 Aventador. The last raging bull to let you row your own gears, though, was the 2014 Gallardo, and those cars predictably carry a 50-percent premium over the e-gear.

Lamborghini unveiled the Gallardo for it's 40th anniversary, and production closed out during the company's 50th. The second model introduced under Audi's corporate umbrella after the Murci, it spawned a stunning 32 special edition models over 14,022 units produced. When the last one left Sant'Agata Bolognese, nearly half of all Lamborghinis ever made were Gallardos.

Since Lamborghini aimed its V10 wedge at a global audience, quite a few buyers snapped one up for bragging rights and music videos, leading to sales overwhelmingly favoring the paddle-shift cars. But as Gallardos have started to make that transition from used exotic to modern collector car, the open-gate shifter is attracting more attention.

Some recent market highlights include an early 2004 coupe with 6,000 miles sold for $189K, a 2006 Spyder sold for $159,500, and a 2014 LP560 Anniversario model (one of just 25 equipped with a manual in the US) sold for $245,000. In each case, the stick accounted for at least a 50 percent bump in the sale price.

Music video casting credits aside, Gallardos likely have enduring star power. Despite the Lambo's high costs, over 80 percent of Hagerty insurance quotes for Gallardos come from Millennial or Gen X enthusiasts.

2004-2007 Porsche Carrera GT

Porsche only ever offered the legendary Carrera GT with a six-speed manual, and it was one of the last "mainstream" hypercars to come that way. There may not be an automatic version to compare it to, then, but let's take a look at a period rival: the 2004–2010 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

While different in look and layout, each was the halo model for its respective manufacturer and comparisons between the two in media were endless back in the day. Both also cracked dynos with 600-plus horsepower engines and shredded wallets with MSRPs that started around $450,000. And yet, the stick shift-only Porsche is worth over four times as much as the auto-only Merc McLaren.

Carrera GT values skyrocketed last year, and so far in 2022, there have been three sold at auction for over $2M. The difference between the two cars isn't all down to the thing between the seats, but the contrast here is a stark one.

Broad Arrow

2008–2015 Audi R8 (-20% for S-tronic or R-tronic)

Built on the same platform as the Lamborghini Gallardo but engineered with a bit more civility, the R8 capitalized on the company's continued success at Le Mans. The first Audi that could really be called "exotic," it initially came only with a 4.2-liter V-8 plucked from the RS4 and either a six-speed single-clutch automated manual or a true six-speed stick with a lovely aluminum open-gate shifter. A 5.2-liter V10 version (the engine from the Gallardo) was introduced in late 2008.

The Hagerty Price Guide carries a -20 percent deduction for R8s with either the R-tronic (six-speed) or S-Tronic (six-speed) autos. A six-speed 2008 R8 once owned by F1 and Indy winner Juan Pablo Montoya sold for $123,200 in Monterey this year, followed soon after by a 2015 V10 6-speed that sold for a massive $210,000. And despite being a more mature exotic than the shouty look-at-me Gallardo, the R8 is nearly as popular among younger enthusiasts as its Lamborghini cousin. Nearly 72 percent of insurance quotes for R8s come from Gen X or Millennials.

Broad Arrow Auctions

2002–2006 Ferrari 575M Maranello (+125% for manual)

After Ferrari sold over 3,000 units of the 550 Maranello (all with six-speed manuals) from 1996-2001, the company introduced the 575M, a revised 550 with a facelift, fresh interior, and extra displacement. Ferrari also offered the F1 single-clutch automated manual gearbox on its latest gran turismo, and a lot of people ticked that box. Of the 2,056 cars built, just 246 sold with a manual with only about 80 of those coming to the U.S. market.

Now, almost 20 years later, buyers swoon when a 575 with a third pedal pops up for sale. The current condition #1 (Concours, or best-in-the-world) value for a 575M Maranello is $160,000, but a 5K-mile car in rare colors sold back in March for $415,000, and a 10K-mile car just sold in Monterey for $390,000.

Broad Arrow Auctions

2007–2011 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

Named for Ferrari's famous test track, the 599 GTB Fiorano picked up where the 575 left off with a bigger engine, more performance, and more sophistication. As with the 575, the good-old-fashioned open-gate six-speed was available, but most of the people picking up a 599 new opted for the convenience of paddles. And if a manual 575 sounds rare, a manual 599 is a real unicorn. Of the 3,500 built, just 30 got a six-speed stick and only 20 of those came to North America.

It's a big deal when one of those precious few cars crosses the block, and the market almost treats it like an entirely different car. The current #1 value for a 599 GTB Fiorano in the Hagerty Price Guide is $245,000, but a 4,700-mile stick shift car sold for $709,000 at auction last year. An even better example of the manual premium popped up in Monterey this year. Two black 2007 599s with similar mileage crossed the same auction block there, with the auto car fetching $192,500 and the manual car absolutely hitting it out of the park with an $880,000 final price. Another one is up for auction this month, with an estimate of $550,000 - $650,000.

Comments

  • AEZ says:

    I’ve recently seen asking prices for manual F355’s 200%-300% higher vs the F1 trans…since not on this list, I assume they’re either not actually selling for that much of the asking premium, or there’s too few sales data points still. There’s a massive price difference either way.

  • Stephen House says:

    I totally agree, how about American muscle? I own a ‘73 Brewster Green TA which is a 4 spd. These rarely come up for sale but when they do most are automatics, out of the 146 built using the percentages of manufacture only 43 were 4 spds! Quite rare!

  • b krug says:

    I agree that stick cars bring the better money, as per Stephen House, why did you guys leave out American Muscle, I only have one automatic left in my collection, a 1971 Olds 442 Convertible with AC, it’s such a good running reliable car with great looks, it is hard to sell, but if the same car came up with a 4 speed and was “close” to what I could get for the automatic, I would sell it..

  • Christopher Burmaster says:

    I thought my 2013 Cadillac CTS V wagon held some swagger in the three pedal market (only 500 made).

  • Christian B. Joseph says:

    All great examples! I believe another to add to the list would be the Aston Martin V8 Vantage (2006-2017).

  • Mike says:

    The Ferrari F430 is another not mentioned here that gated stick versions pull double $ or more over their F1 brothers.
    I’ve learned to appreciate the F1, realizing a very rare few drivers can emulate their rapid gear changes. As I’ve gotten older, that becomes more obvious, and when tracking, renders the manuals inferior.
    But on the open road, manuals are the real deal analog road cars, with a feeling of driver dominance over the beast we are taming. That’s the feeling many of us grew up with, and it’s one you never get over.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    It’s a preference. I’m fine with any transmission but the mechanical link of a manual is something different and can’t be duplicated. Though I prefer a dual clutch myself.

  • Jim Liberty says:

    Being an “Old Guy” I just love the experience of 3 pedals. I even have a Crosley pickup with a 3 speed crash box. Talk about fun. ………..Jim.

  • Lyle Bastin says:

    Converted my 1971 Aston Martin DBS to manual and the car is transformed. So much more engagement at every level it was worth the expense. Ironically so many of these cars were originally made as autos to sell more in the American market. Now the auto version sells for much less than the manual. Proves the point.

  • JPT-L says:

    If the premium is calculated as a percentage, the Porsche 928 should be thrown in to the mix. Consider that a 1995 928 GTS broke into the $400,000 range earlier this year, combined with the fact that since it is one of the very few manual 928 GTS.
    A comparable ’95 GTS auto wouldn’t have realized anything near $400k.

  • Col Bob says:

    928’s are a good example of manuals over autos being worth more…

  • Doc says:

    In fall of 2020 I purchased a 2017 Chevrolet SS six speed manual with 7,700 miles. It offered what my previous family cars (’96 Impala SS and ’14 Charger R/T) failed to deliver in terms of driving pleasure. I can’t ever see parting with that car.

    Between my wife and I we have five vehicles, all manuals. She won’t even consider a automatic. Her daily driver is a ’17 Honda Accord coupe, six cylinder, six speed manual. Mine is a ’10 Camaro SS six speed manual.

  • Rider79 says:

    Those Ferraris are beautiful; I would take any of them, no matter the transmission!

  • Alvin says:

    Agree w/Mike re F430. Also consider 2017 AM V12 Vantage S w/7 speed dogleg vs their paddle shifter. Tremendous impact on market pricing in favor of DIY shifting

  • Inline8OD says:

    Aren’t all automatic transmission cars poser mobiles? What’s sporting about a golf cart, regardless how much horsepower? “Muscle” cars with automatic transmission, power brakes, power steering? Today’s triumphs of retro marketing, badge engineering with butt warmers, cupholders, power windows? Why do we waste time on them? If you or your wife needs a car for commute or groceries, so be it. But let’s end this “having it all” conceit.

    Sport Utility Vehicle? Since when is a windowed van on pick up chassis “sporting?” “Crossover?” Who wants a “vehicle?” Those who do, fine. But don’t kid yourself, or let yourself be conned via labels, badges, emblems.

    Four-door Porsches with automatic transmission?

    No, kids. Your parents may’ve coddled you, but you are not precious, cannot “have it all.” Welcome to adulthood, even if it doesn’t arrive ’til age 40 or 50.

  • Joseph Thaler says:

    I don’t like golf. It bores the snot out of me. Great analogy for manual vs slush box. A 700 HP Dodge Whatever is just a gas sucking golf cart, as are any 2 pedal cars from F-1 to family minivan.
    I’vebeen driving manual for 54 years. I have only owned 2 automatics since 1968. A 1955 Dodge and, a 1980 Mazda 626. I had an engine and 5sp from another ’80 626 but, moved to the West Coast before I could do the swap.
    I am a youthful 72 and drive 2 Miatas and a Mazda 3 with a combined 17 fwd. speeds. If
    I ever have to drive a golfcart, I will give up driving.

    PS: Call me a Luddite, but I still read books and use my phone for phone calls.

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