Ten iconic cars with dog leg gearboxes
Aston's announced a new dog-legged Vantage. Meet similarly equipped icons
Aston Martin has removed a nail from the manual gearbox’s coffin this week, equipping its new Vantage AMR with a manual gearbox. It brings stick-shifting back to Aston’s classy muscle car, and in doing so puts some confidence back behind a transmission we all feared was being usurped by the paddleshifter.
Real confidence: rather than just bolt in any old manual, Aston has fitted it with a seven-speed, dog-leg gearbox. That means second to seventh gears fill the positions normally used for first to sixth. First gear, which you’ll really be using at junctions or when parking, is reached by going left and down from neutral.
It’s unusual to find nowadays, but some great, great cars have used this layout over the years. Cars which used a dog-legged first gear not to make seven ratios easier to handle, but rather to elbow it out of the way to value fast driving above all else.
So click forth through TG’s whistle-stop tour of the world’s best dog legs…Advertisement - Page continues below
A number of Porsches have used dog-leg manual transmissions, but we’ve selected the 928 because it’s the one most recently in production. It also looks damn cool.
BMW M3 (E30)
One of the most famous road-going dog-leggers of all, predominantly because it is one of the most attainable. Or should we say was one of the most attainable: this one-time M Division entry point now demands tens of thousands of pounds.Advertisement - Page continues below
BMW 2002 Turbo
In fact, it might be better value to splash out on one of its ancestors. Buy a turbocharged 2002 and you'll get a similarly quirky gearchange, but it will be housed in a pert body boasting far more retro-tastic graphics than that M3.
The most exciting dog-leg equipped car of them all? The Stratos is among the world’s coolest cars, best looking cars, scariest cars and most successful rally cars. And you can use its oddly placed first gear to prove you have a real one, and not a home-built replica…
A motorsport hero of even greater proportions than that Stratos. The mighty GT40 not only placed its gearstick on the sill, but asked the driver to waggle it close to their hip in order to pull away in first. Sadly, neither move carried over to the mid-noughties GT comeback. And the new one has a paddleshift, so eschews manual shifting altogether…
The Italians had something of a penchant for the dog leg in the 1970s and ‘80s. We start with the scissor-doored Countach, unofficially joint-top in the list of cars most likely to be stuck to the bedroom wall of school boys and girls.Advertisement - Page continues below
It shares the top of the table with its 12-cylinder nemesis from Maranello. Is there a car more synonymous with the 1980s than the vent-festooned Testarossa? The man in the hat certainly doesn't think so.
A hot hatchback with a dog leg, now. Lotus took the humble Talbot Sunbeam and turned it into one of the first ever hot hatches, and a rear-driven one at that. As well as some Lotus fettling, the wee ‘Beam also got a driver-focused gearbox that displayed its motorsport genes nicely.Advertisement - Page continues below
An Actual Dog
Oh, this is a real dog’s legs. Sorry. Next!
Picture: Tilemahos Efthimiadis
Vauxhall Firenza Droopsnoot
Coolest Vauxhall ever? And before you make any jokes about damning with faint praise, the Firenza really is an icy cold thing, particularly in its High Performance spec shown here, affectionately known as the ‘Droopsnoot’. As well that more aerodynamic schnoz, it also got a five-speed manual gearbox utilising the same layout as a Lambo Countach.
Alright, it’s not a madcap supercar or a legend of the forest stage. But it’s proof that dog-leg transmissions can live outside of the performance car world. And if you’re a veteran of Gran Turismo, you ought to know this tiny, weeny kei car quite well.