Along with the actual wheels, the manual transmission is among the least-evolved components of a modern car. A brand-new 2015 model's stick shift has a whole lot in common with the three-speed gearbox you'd find in a car built 70 years ago. While the technology may be abidingly familiar to us enthusiasts, it can never hurt to take a refresher course in the basics. That's why we love this vintage educational film from 1936, which nicely details how work.
This is just another gem from the treasure trove of , created to explain the high-tech mechanical concepts of the day in a way that just about anybody could understand. It has all the trademark features of a Jam Handy production: brilliant visual aids, excellent mechanical analysis, and charming old-timey voice-over work.
Henry Jamison "Jam" Handy was a real character, a rambunctiously productive former Olympic swimmer who made a career out of producing short informational films for soldiers, salesmen, mechanics, and the average layperson. This film, "Spinning Levers," was commissioned by Chevrolet in 1936 to explain how a manual transmission works—and, as a side benefit, to highlight the then-new synchromesh technology that was a highlight of the '36 Chevy lineup. It's basically one of the first advertorials.
Anyway, take a 10-minute educational break and learn the basics of what's going on inside your stick-shift transmissions. Even if you understand the concept implicitly, we're certain you'll learn something from the irrepressible Jam Handy.