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Video: Vintage two-stick master!

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Look, we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Gearheads cannot live on muscle cars alone. And it’s in that continuing vein that we bring you this week’s departure from the usual muscle car fare.

Shifting gears — one of the great talents that, while not exclusive to muscle cars, certainly separates the drivers from the passengers. If you can drive anything with a manual transmission, the world is just so much easier to navigate. But in the world of Stick, things can get complicated. Ever drive an old two-stick truck? How about a three-stick?

Pretty sure there are more of us out there who, as kids, wanted to be a long-haul truck driver. Especially if you grew up in the Golden Age of the CB radio: the Seventies. Anyone else nurse dreams of a twin-stack, 8-track, double-sleeper-in-the-back, big Mack? Maybe a chimpanzee in the passenger seat? It’s okay — so did we.

But one David McNeill, of somewhere in Louisiana, actually lived that dream. And he lived it in an era when trucks were trucks and men found their life partners in them, apparently (watch the beginning of the video when he notices his wife recording the drive and talks about this very thing).

The video picks up as McNeill readies his ’55 K-Whopper 523 “bullnose” for their last drive together, before she goes to a new home. And, just five months after brain surgery, David rows through that old Spicer 16-speed “twin-stick” transmission with the deftness and muscle memory that can only come from a lifetime spent on the road.

On his blog, Steve Sturgess does a better job narrating Mr. David’s last drive with his Kenworth than we ever could:

The video shows him tiptoeing the old Bullnose out from his Louisiana field where the most amazing assortment of trucking history is quietly rusting away. The camera shows the progression of the shifting of this two-stick, with the ’round-the-houses’ shift pattern of the auxiliary and the first compound shift of one to two in the main transmission and back to second gear in the auxiliary. And watch his left leg: After getting underway, he leaves the clutch well alone through all the shifts, as one should with this transmission setup.”

So, muscle car brethren, enjoy this brief departure from all-things muscle. But, also notice that bitchin’ diamond-tuck interior, gauge panel, and amber shifter knobs: the hot-rod aesthetic prevails. Pour a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and spend 12 minutes with Mr. David and the lost art of two-stick gearshifting. You’re welcome.