Meditating On Manuals (thoughts from our Chief Engineer, Brandon Jones)
Updated: 4 days ago
When it comes to the driving dynamics and performance of a vehicle, the most overlooked and under-appreciated component is the organic processing unit – the driver. This is especially true when it comes to big-name automotive companies, who in the past decade have made great strides in making cars that are incredibly easy to drive, and in some cases, drive themselves. Modern drivers are becoming increasingly desensitized to the driving experience. Through the push to electrify nearly every control system, cars have lost their feel, and drivers have lost their touch. In no aspect is this more apparent than the transmission.
Advocates of the new paradigm will insist that modern transmissions such as dual-clutch systems and some of the new automatics are better because they shift faster and deliver shorter 0-60 times. Technically, they are correct in these assertions, however, they are missing the most important point—driver engagement. The most useful metric when determining how enjoyable a sports car is to drive is the degree to which the driver is engaged in the process. At Keller Motors, we believe the driver should be the most influential factor determining how quick a lap time can be, and for that reason, we have designed our cars to be the most engaging on the market. To that end, we have selected a range of transmissions that will push the driver to challenge themselves every day, as there is no greater joy than perfectly executing a difficult task. With every well-executed shift, a rush of adrenaline and endorphins are released by the body, these feel-good hormones increase pleasure, minimize pain, and improve general well-being. Being fully involved in the mechanical processes of a sports car can be likened to a form of mindfulness meditation: speed, RPM, position in the road, control over the pedals and the shifter, constant analysis of the road ahead. These aspects center the driver in the present moment, as any lapse in concentration can have disastrous effects. All other aspects of daily life fade away, all the troubles and hardships that we face, at least for the moment, can be forgotten as we become fully encompassed in the experience. There are innumerable studies outlining the importance of daily meditation on the well-being of the human psyche, which we do not need to get into here. However, most people are unable to work meditation into their daily schedules, and that has negative effects on their minds and bodies. Our solution is to make every drive and every commute a meditative experience, demanding the driver's undivided attention. This is not a new concept; car companies used to know this, but through decades of design-by-committee, focus groups, technological advancement, and apathetic customers, they have forgotten what makes sports cars enjoyable—engagement.
Keller Motors’ decision to focus on gated manual and sequential transmissions is not to improve lap or 0-60 times, in fact, we do not care about those things, and neither should you. Those figures are trivial when compared to the level of engagement our cars will demand from our customers. Our cars are designed purely to provide maximum enjoyment and distraction from the monotony of daily life, and that is a goal that is simply unattainable with an automatic transmission.