Over the course of this Thanksgiving holiday, we'll give plenty of thanks for all good stuff that enriches our lives outside of the automotive world, but being car enthusiasts, we can't help but give special shout-outs to aspects of the auto industry that also make us oh-so-grateful. And since today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, we've compiled a list of those automotive things we're most thankful for.

We're taking the day to spend some time with our loved ones (and we hope you're doing the same), but be sure to scroll through our list below and tell us what you're thankful for in the Comments.

From all of us here at Autoblog, have a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Scroll down to read the automotive things we're thankful for this year.

Manual transmissions

There's plenty of reasons to be thankful this year, but I'm particularly thankful for the manual transmission. Even though dual clutch gearboxes are getting better and better (and indeed, there are some applications where I prefer them), I'm glad that some automakers are still committed to offering three pedals.

In fact, I'm excited to hear that the take rate for manuals actually increased earlier this year, even if it was only a temporary blip. The slow death of the manual transmission is likely inevitable due to cost and regulatory issues, but for the moment, we're seeing the seeds of a tiny renaissance. Porsche has given us a newly developed seven-speed 'box and BMW is understood to be working on one, too. In fact, BMW has already gone out of its way to put manuals in Stateside models that don't even get them in their home market. For diehard tripedalists like me, that's reason enough to pause and give thanks before carving up the holiday's sacrificial bird.

– Chris Paukert
Executive Editor

Photo: Copyright 2012 Drew Phillips / AOL

Elon Musk

If you want to start an argument in the virtual halls of Autoblog, bring up Elon Musk. The polarizing leader of both Tesla Motors and SpaceX (as well as co-founder of PayPal) just rubs a few of us the wrong way, and yet others think that what he's done with his fledgling automaker is monumentally important. I'm in the latter camp because, as I see it, Tesla is the only company to have built and sold an all-electric vehicle at scale that can take the place of its gas-powered counterpart without compromise. Tesla has yet to prove its business case is viable in the long run, but while the jury's out on that, we've witnessed some incredible advancements in electric vehicle technology come out of the Silicon Valley-based automaker. The latest of which, the Model S, has received near universal critical acclaim. My gut tells me that regardless of gas prices or government legislation, Elon Musk envisions an EV future that he intends to make reality. With the passing of Steve Jobs last year, I'm thankful the world still has people with such powerful wills to move us forward whether we like it or not.

– John Neff

Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty

Hot hatchbacks

I'm going to be really lame here and reiterate what I said in this exact post two years ago. But I don't care. Because I am wholly, truly, madly, deeply, unabashedly in love with and thankful for the hot hatchback.

Perhaps it was conducting our recent comparison test between the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI that reminded me just how much I love these little cars, but seriously, there really isn't a single type of automobile that I love more than the small, turbocharged hatchback (yes, even supercars). They're immensely functional, hilariously fun to drive and every last one of them has the sort of boy racer appearance that just makes me giggle. I'm still young enough to enjoy that sort of thing, I guess.

Things are only going to get better for the hot hatch segment, too. Ford brought the Focus ST to our shores for 2013, and the smaller Fiesta ST is right around the corner. Chevrolet gave us the Sonic RS earlier this year (okay, it's not all that hot), and Mini has brought back the awesome (and expensive) John Cooper Works GP. Segment stalwarts like the Subaru WRX, Mazdaspeed3 and Volkswagen GTI all have new versions in the works, too.

So, long live the hot hatches. They'll always be Number One in my book.

– Steven J. Ewing
Senior Editor and Test Fleet Manager

Photo: Copyright 2012 Chris Amos / AOL


Be it Thanksgiving or the 4th of July, the depths of the workweek or Saturday evening, one pastime/resource/target of obsession that I'm always thankful for is Craigslist. Specifically, the "cars+trucks" section of the innovative yet simply functional website.

Sure, eBay Motors may have a better selection, but Craigslist almost always has more personality. Where eBay has seemingly gobbled up most of the high-end, dealership-based business in the automotive reselling world, Craigslist has joyfully taken up the role that your local newspaper's classifieds once held. That means that, in addition to plenty of high-dollar or late model cars to check out, CL has got all of the crazy, beat-down, forgotten-about metal that makes for happily wasted hours of browsing fodder.

Better still, as long as I'm looking through my local Craigslist, every vehicle I see is actually close enough to go out and drive, should my fancy be appropriately tickled. (I'm also pretty lucky to live in the Metro Detroit area, where interesting used cars are thicker on the ground than in most other parts of the world, and therefore more plentiful in CL listings as well.)

Old cars are awesome. For the looking at, the driving of, and the thinking about. Craigslist makes all of the above more accessible, for which I, and most car guys I know, give frequent thanks.

– Seyth Miersma
Senior Editor

Plug-in hybrids out of politics

Before we get started, let's knock wood, because this might be a bit premature. After all, President Obama – a strong pro-plug-in advocate – was just reelected and his opposition might once again start the drumbeats of war against anything he supports. But, for now, I'm thankful that it appears that plug-in cars have ceased to be a political topic.

Sure, there are ongoing discussions about how long they will be around this time (my view: the long haul), if they're good for everyone (not yet) and if they're too expensive (for many people, they are, but not for everyone, especially when you calculate their benefits), but it's just plain good news for the plug-in vehicle discussion to be based on the merits of the cars themselves, not on how they're some sort of attack on the foundation of marriage ( seriously).

After two years, plug-in vehicle sales are ahead of where hybrids were are this point in their lifecycle a decade ago, and the more they get out, the more of a rational discussion we can have. Who wouldn't be thankful about that?

– Sebastian Blanco
Editor-in-Chief, Autoblog Green

Photo: Copyright 2012 Drew Phillips / AOL

The march of progress

I had the pleasure of driving a production Ford Mustang capable of cresting the 200-mile-per-hour barrier this year. That's a two with a pair of zeros tagging along behind approximating the shape and size of my eyeballs the first time I got handsy with the accelerator. It takes a supercharged V8 with 662 horsepower to compel the big coupe and one mildly terrified writer to those speeds, which is a number no less astounding than the Shelby GT500 V-max.

Let's just take a moment to meditate on the absurdity of this machine. A mere 20 years ago, the fastest production Mustang in the history of the nameplate served up 235 horsepower, a figure now handily embarrassed by the humble Toyota Camry. If human beings evolved at the same clip as their cars, we'd have rocket launchers for unmentionables and bar keys for thumbs by now.

So, this year, I'm thankful for the tireless march of progress. Not just from the formerly humble Ford Mustang, but from the entire automotive sector. I'm grateful to the army of engineers, designers and yes, even accountants, that push our toys to the bleeding edge of possible with each new generation. You make this job a hell of a lot more fun than it should be.

– Zach Bowman

Photo: Copyright 2012 Zach Bowman / AOL

Exhaust note tuning

As 2012 draws to a close, I am thankful that automakers are embracing the tailpipe as more than just a dump spout for waste emissions. The audible track of any combustion vehicle includes intake, mechanical and exhaust noise, and I want to personally applaud the teams who spend countless hours tuning mufflers to growl, snarl, bark, scream and wail. Taking my thanks one step further, I offer a standing ovation to the passionate engineers who have figured out how to inject tiny drops of fuel into the exhaust stroke resulting in popping, burbling and cackling under deceleration. My ears thank you for making automobile soundtracks so fabulously fulfilling.

– Michael Harley
West Coast Editor

Photo: Copyright 2012 Drew Phillips / AOL

Icon 4x4

I'm thankful for Icon 4x4, a company that has single-handedly recreated some of my favorite trucks of all time into modern works of art. Jonathon Ward and his crew have already reworked trucks like the first-generation Ford Bronco, FJ Cruiser and Jeep CJ, but my favorite overall has to be the Dodge D200 behemoth unveiled at this year's SEMA Show. I mean, what isn't to love about an off-road-ready truck with almost 1,000 pound-feet of torque to go with the styling of a '65 Dodge D200 Crew Cab? Based on this truck, I'd love to see what Icon could come up with using an early '60s Chevy Suburban or late '60s Blazer. Of course, now that I think about it, I should just be thankful for dreaming, because with a six-figure price tag, I doubt I'll ever drive (let alone own) one of these wonderful creations. Either way, Keep up the good work, Mr. Ward.

– Jeffrey N. Ross
Associate Editor

The car enthusiast

I am thankful for the enthusiast, without whom we would be out of a job. For all the talk of a new generation of folks uninterested in cars, there are still millions who are emphatic about some niche or under-covered realm of automobilia. For every Camaro owner, there is a Morris Minor enthusiast, or more to the point of the image you see here, the elderly man who takes his wife out every friday night, but at the wheel of this Dodge Taxi.

I was writing at a coffee shop when I saw this yellow car pull up. I was compelled to go outside and strike up a conversation, and the owner let me inspect the car, inside and out. It is a wonderful genre we choose to write about that garners such spirited interactions – interactions that may have otherwise never happened. For the personal experiences that make automotive journalism worthwhile, I am thankful.

– George Kennedy
Associate Editor

Photo: Copyright 2012 George Kennedy / AOL


It may sound a little cheesy, but I am eternally grateful for Autoblog and the people who work there. Technically, I work for AOL Autos, so it's not like I need to kiss up to them. But Autoblog is the virtual place where I like to hang out. It's the place I can surround myself with people who have no pretenses other than their love of cars and trucks and things that move. The faster, the better.

Having covered the auto business from a different place and different angle in my previous life, I forgot how much fun cars can are. I find Autoblog's ability to give thanks for gear shifters, exhaust notes and the pure adrenaline rush that is speed refreshing and heroic. They may even incorrectly believe Elon Musk really is a cutting-edge visionary, but that's okay. We all have heroes that will eventually disappoint us.

That said, I am truly thankful for the people behind Autoblog. They saved a weary and tired journalist just by being themselves. Them, and, of course, vodka.

– Scott Burgess
Senior Editor, AOL Autos

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