Manual vs. automatic gear/transmission
Basically I’d just like to see gearboxes as a vehicle component. There would be only two kinds - automatic and manual. Manual would result in more difficult handling, i.e. increased rate of stalling for newbie drivers but also 1) increased acceleration, 2) lower chance of losing vehicle control and 3) faster recovery from loss of control, but only in the hands of experienced drivers (for all three points). Thereby automatic would be safer for newbie drivers, but experienced drivers would get more out of manual. Frankly, I might even impose a limit in order to even drive manual - a minimum driving skill of 3. Manual would also make random loud cranking noises in the hands of inexperienced drivers (due to not having learned yet how to operate the clutch properly), potentially luring zombies towards the noise. The gearbox should also sustain slight damage at that time.
Engine stalling as a phenomenon
For newbie drivers, having just recently learned the basics of manual transmission, whenever the speed of the vehicle would change, there should be a small chance for the engine turning off, especially at low speeds. If you’re gonna drive, drive faster, newbie. Of course a damaged engine could just shut off on its own, regardless of the driver.
Driving skill development based on speed changes
I admit that I don’t know how the driving skill develops currently but I would add that the driving skill should increase with every little shift in speed. Combine this with the chance of engine stall, and I believe hilarity would ensue.
Here are some of the log messages that I envision:
“You fumble with the manual transmission. The engine shuts down. You could attempt restarting the engine.”
“Drat! This vehicle has manual transmission. There’s no way you can drive this… yet. Educate yourself, find someone to teach you to drive or find another vehicle.”
“CRREEEK! You mess with the manual tranmission, and operate the clutch inapproriately. A loud noise is emitted.”
(if Mechanics is at least 4, or if Driving is at least 5, the message changes to)
“CRREEEK! You mess with the manual tranmission, and operate the clutch inapproriately. A loud noise is emitted. You also suspect the gearbox has sustained slight damage.”
(and later on, rarely)
“Crik! You fumble with the manual transmission. It didn’t sound serious though. Happens to the best of us.”
Also, occasionally once certain thresholds regarding speed, acceleration, or deceleration are exceeded:
“Your mad skills with manual gear prevent the vehicle from skidding uncontrollably in such high speeds and drastic turns. Maniac.”
“You quickly recover from an unexpected skid. The land beneath you is ice and you’re but an eccentric skater …On wheels and/or cocaine.”
“Your vehicle bolts to near supersonic speeds in a blink of an eye. The difference between a missile and a vehicle has been blurred.”
“Mighty fine breaking, sir or ma’am. You have mastered the art of pulling over.”