Save the Manuals, Part 2: My Journey to Learn to Drive a Manual in the Ford Bronco Continues

After a quick lesson on driving a manual transmission, a week in a Ford Bronco cements Kim's skills. And, she learned to embrace stall-outs and ignore rude drivers.

Manual Transmission, Ford Bronco
This is the face of a lady who just conquered a manual transmission vehicle 2022 Ford Bronco! Photo: Kim S.

From Manual Transmission Driving Anxiety to Peace and Happiness.

Life has a way of circling back to us, often presenting opportunities we never imagined. Remember the Ford Save the Manuals event, where I embarked on a journey to learn to drive a manual transmission car? Well, fasten your seatbelts because right here, at this moment, this tale of my journey comes full circle.

The memories of learning to navigate a manual transmission on the Ford Bronco and the 2024 Mustang Dark Horse were still fresh when Ford extended an incredible invitation. They offered me the chance to further hone my newfound skills by taking the manual Bronco home for the week, and I eagerly seized the wheel.

As they say, practice makes perfect, and I was determined not to let my newly acquired skills fade away.

Related: That One Time I Learned to Drive a Manual Ford Bronco was the Best Time

Manual Driving

With practice, smoothly shifting gears was a breeze. Photo: Kim S.

Rekindling the Connection: A Manual Bronco Adventure

After spending an hour learning manual driving during the Ford event, the flame was lit. But I had only learned the practiced the basics for a bit. An opportunity to immerse myself fully in the art of manual driving, to apply the techniques I had learned, and to conquer the road with confidence, is what would cement the lesson.

The journey was not just about gears and clutches, though; it was a voyage of self-discovery and breaking through the barriers we often place on ourselves. I navigated both literal and metaphorical terrain, facing the challenges, feeling the highs, and finding moments of sheer triumph.

Yes, it feels that good.

Behind the wheel is where you can discover that facing our fears and embracing the unknown can lead to some of life’s most rewarding adventures

Related: Stepping out of the Comfort Zone: The Rebelle Rally

A Girls Guide To Cars | Save The Manuals, Part 2: My Journey To Learn To Drive A Manual In The Ford Bronco Continues - Learning When To Keep My Foot On The Clutch Is Key To Mastering Manual Driving Kim S

Learning when to keep your foot on the clutch is key to mastering manual driving. Photo: Kim S.

Navigating New Manual Territory: Picking Up My Daughter

5 days with the Ford Bronco, this one a two-door Sasquatch-optioned in Race Red, opened up a window of opportunity – or maybe forced me –to immerse myself in the world of manual driving. My first mission? Picking up my daughter from summer camp—an excursion that would really put my skills to the test.

Remembering the guidance of Autumn, a Ford marketing manager and Ryan, Ford’s NASCAR driver, I set out. “Shift into 1st gear, and slowly release the clutch while your foot hovers over the gas pedal, the car will start rolling, and then you’ll lightly press the gas.” 

Simple, right?

However, real-life traffic lights and stop signs were a wrench in my plans. And then, there are other drivers: on the streets of Long Island patience is scarce and the pressure is on.

As I set out I encountered a couple of stalls, which temporarily nudged my confidence. And then a determined driver zoomed past me, reminding me of the city’s unforgiving pace.

A Girls Guide To Cars | Save The Manuals, Part 2: My Journey To Learn To Drive A Manual In The Ford Bronco Continues - Save The Manuals Part Two Stay Focused Ford Bronco Kim S

Laser-focused on the road ahead and ensuring I don’t stall out in my manual ride. Photo: Kim S.

My Passenger, My Mentor: Manual Guidance

Thankfully, when the weekend arrived my husband hopped into the passenger’s seat as an additional guide to help me refine my skills. A daily manual transmission driver, his insights and patience provided a much-needed boost. Soon, I began reclaiming my rhythm on the road.

Soon I was navigating the streets, smoothly transitioning from 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, 4th to 5th, and even conquering the 6th gear. 

Even through moments of stalling, often at stop signs, my husband’s encouraging demeanor never wavered. “Your goal should be to stall at least 20 times,” he said. “Because you’re still learning.” He also shared advice for slowing down and stopping by down shifting, or reversing the pattern, from 5th to 4th to 3rd to 2nd to slow the car at intersections, became my newfound skill set.

Related: Here are Some of Our Favorite Manual Transmission Cars

A Girls Guide To Cars | Save The Manuals, Part 2: My Journey To Learn To Drive A Manual In The Ford Bronco Continues - Save The Manuals Part Two Ford Bronco Kim S

We made it to Lanoka Harbor, NJ, in the manual Ford Bronco! Photo: Kim S.

Learning to Really Conquer the Manual – on the Highway 

 But I still needed more practice, and a road without traffic or intersections was ideal. So, we headed out on a late-night drive to Meadowbrook Parkway’s very end. It was the ideal place to put the Bronco’s automatic high beams to work while confidently navigating gear shifts.

Skills polished, I was ready for the following day’s expedition—a trip to Lanoka Harbor, NJ, to pick up our daughter. The highways of New Jersey offered a new level of *instruction*  with stop-and-go traffic, drivers in a hurry, cloverleafs and jug handles. It was an intensive practice arena.

But not forgetting the collective wisdom of my mentors—Autumn, Ryan, and my husband—I embraced the highway with newfound confidence. A lone stall was a mere blip, overshadowed by the knowledge that now I’ve got this.

Manual Driving Ford Bronco

The sweetness of driving a gorgeous Ford Bronco matched the sweetness of honing my new manual skills. Photo: Kim S.

Embarking on Endless Possibilities: Embracing New Skills and the Road Ahead

It was an exhilarating journey of commanding the manual transmission. At 38, learning to drive a manual is also proving that it’s never too late to add another string to your bow. 5 days in the Ford Bronco transformed an empowering one-hour lesson into a skill I’ll have for life. I learned to navigate challenges, embrace stalls and ignore rude drivers, and emerged with newfound confidence in my capabilities.

And, not letting perceived barriers stand in the way of your ambitions. Life’s most rewarding journeys begin with that first courageous step. With each shift of the gears, you’re propelling yourself toward greater achievement. 

Onward and upward!

Disclosure: Ford provided the Bronco for this story, but all opinions are mine. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

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Kim Smith is a 30-something-year-old wife and do-it-all mom of two beautiful daughters; her rainbow babies. As if working... More about Kim S.