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There Was a Version of the Chevy Venture with a Manual Transmission

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: you could get a Chevrolet Venture, the excessively mediocre mid-2000s General Motors minivan, with a manual transmission. There are some caveats, most notably the fact that the manual version wasn’t actually called the Chevy Venture, but the general point I’m making here is true: there was a time when General Motors was making 3-pedal minivans.

Here’s how this went down. The Chevy Venture was sold from 1997 to 2005, and it had a few “twins” in the GM family: a Pontiac version called the Trans Sport, which later became simply the Montana, and an Oldsmobile version called the Silhouette. Minivan enthusiasts know this, and they also know these were only offered with automatic transmissions, since that’s all the market wanted back then.

What minivan enthusiasts — all five of you — may not know, however, is that these weren’t the only twins. General Motors also sold a version of this vehicle in Europe called the Opel Sintra in mainland Europe, and the Vauxhall Sintra in the U.K. And it was this vehicle that was offered with three pedals — largely because many European vehicles offered manual transmissions at the time, so it was seen as normal.

The Sintra was not very popular. In North America, the Venture was already not very popular and considered to be subpar — but in Europe, where the van segment was possibly even more competitive than in North America, it was even less popular. But GM still tried, and a few people bought them, and so there are a handful of Opel and Vauxhall Sintra models out there, running around, with a stick shift and three pedals. These look just like the Venture, except with different badging, so it’s unusual for anyone familiar with the Venture to imagine.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true: there was a manual Chevy Venture. They just called it something different, and sold it somewhere else — but it exists. And, surely, it’s the enthusiast’s choice.

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  1. Unlike GM, Mazda offered their minivan in the USA with a manual transmission until fairly recently; pretty sure not many manual Mazda5s were ever sold here though. Also it barely looks like a minivan to my eyes – it’s a 3 row 6 seater with exterior styling that is awfully similar to wagons like Kia Rondo or Toyota Matrix

  2. I remember seeing an Opel Sintra when I went to Europe and wondering why they would import those from the U.S.  Then I read that they were not only available with a 5-speed, but they also had 4-cylinder engines as standard which I’m sure made them even more underpowered than the North American counterparts.  The cool thing is that a diesel was optional.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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