Posted by: Kristie | November 13, 2009

TT#122 Reversing a European Car

My friend Jen actually offered me this little gem of a tip. She told me this great story how she was driving in Italy and needed to turn around. Attempting a three-point turn, she went to put her standard rental in reverse and it wouldn’t shift. It would just keep popping back into neutral, never holding the position. So she’s sitting there, in the middle of the road, with a bunch of her friends and nobody could figure it out. All of a sudden, an Italian man pulls up on his Vespa, reaches in the window, puts it in reverse and drives away. Ha! I just love the imagery of that scene.

That story was in my head the first time I went to put our standard rental in reverse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the trick, just that there was one, but fortunately we were in an empty parking lot so we had plenty of time. Unlike American standards, you can’t just shift into reverse in the European version. You have to pull up on this round plastic ring around the base of the shifter and then put it into reverse. Hopefully this will help avoid any future sticky situations – although maybe you wouldn’t mind a little help from an Italian Stallion.

On a similar note, if you know how to drive standard in the slightest, practice a little and then rent one in Europe. You save so much money over renting a manual.



  1. Haha! Glad my embarrassment proved beneficial to someone. Being 22 yrs old at the time, I would say that having an Italian stallion on a vespa save our day was quite worth it, too. 🙂

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