Spilling the tea on an irreproducible experiment

Dear Car Talk:

I was putzing around the yard last weekend and set my extra-large Pacific Marine Mammal Center tea cup from Laguna, California, on the back bumper of my 1990 Chevy C1500 pickup for a minute.

Later, for a variety of reasons, it was necessary for me to take a mental health break from my wife and kids, so I hopped in my truck, drove around in the country for 10 or 15 minutes, stopped at my office for the Sunday paper, and headed home.

Just as I pulled into the driveway, I remembered my tea cup! I anxiously scanned the ground for cobalt blue shards but saw nothing.

You know my punchline – the cup was still on the bumper, right where I left it! Even after a mental health drive, with quick acceleration out of the driveway, sudden deceleration as I approached the speed trap and curvier roads than were really necessary.

I already loved my truck, but I am even more impressed now – it’ll haul a quarter ton of gravel and won’t spill a drop of my tea!

My wife suggested I contact Chevy to make a bundle off the testimonial. What do you think? – Trey

RAY: I think you have a better shot at doing an endorsement for whoever made that Pacific Marine Mammal Center tea mug, Trey.

Or try Republic of Tea.

I’m guessing this is an irreproducible experiment. If you tried this 10 more times, you’d have blue shards everywhere in a five-mile radius of your house.

I’m guessing the mug is bottom heavy, maybe more than most. And the tea was mostly gone, which further lowered the center of gravity. And the rubber cover on the top of the bumper helped to keep it from sliding right off and shattering.

Luck helped, too. If one squirrel had run out in front of your car, that mug would be abstract art now.

But it IS impressive, Trey. So if it happens again, definitely have your agent call Chevy.

Shift in buyer preferences limits manual transmission options

Dear Car Talk:

Are there any mid-sized sedans that are still available with a manual transmission? The last one I drove was a Saab 9000. If so, could you recommend a new or used one?

Although I am 80 years old, I’ve never bought an automatic and don’t want to start now. I last owned a BMW 318i. It drove well, but I prefer something a little bigger. – Larry

RAY: It’s slim pickings out there, Larry. People who want to buy cars with stick shifts are getting rarer than people who prefer rotary phones.

Although, to be honest, our national finger flab problem has become epidemic since we all switched to keypads.

I was all set to recommend a new Honda Accord with a 2.0-liter engine. That’s a very nice mid-sized car and handles a lot like the European cars you’re used to. But Honda just announced that they’re discontinuing the manual transmission option.

Obviously, you can get one that’s a year or two old, and, as long as you have a mechanic check it out from stem to stern before you buy it, it should be a good, reliable car for you.

If you’re willing to go a little bit smaller, you can still get a VW Jetta with a stick. You have to order the R-Line trim.

The Jetta has gotten bigger lately and is probably bigger than your old BMW 318i, but smaller than the Saab 9000.

So if you want a new car, I’m going to surprise you with my choice, Larry: the Genesis G70.

Genesis is Hyundai’s relatively new luxury car brand. Kind of like what Lexus is to Toyota, though obviously not as well-established yet. Or as high priced.

The G70 is a very nice car. It’s mid-sized and competes with the BMW 3-series. It’s comfortable, has a spiffy interior and all the modern safety equipment you need – like automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and lane keeping assist.

If you want a stick shift, you have to order your G70 with the four-cylinder engine option. But it’s hardly a slouch at 252 horsepower.

It’ll cost you about $40,000. But you’re worth it, Larry, aren’t you?

And when you decide to sell it, you can include free stick shift lessons, so you can pass your expertise on to the next generation and keep the clutch-line alive. Enjoy whatever you get, Larry.

Got a question about cars? Write to Car Talk write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.

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