Vintage car manuals are more than mere service handbooks; they also offer a glimpse into a time when the automobile represented elegance and luxury, before it became an ordinary necessity. Service manuals also document the ever-changing standards in auto design, with the frequent addition of new features like cigarette lighters, FM radios, and air-conditioning units. The combination of scientific diagrams, operating instructions, and marketing devices, all simplified into layman’s terms, resulted in a novel form of consumer literature and written instruction.

Early car manuals were as much about advertising the ease and convenience of driving as they were about maintenance and repairs. The Ford Model T service handbook made operating a car as easy as possible for a novice owner, explaining all of the vehicle’s basic functions in a clear, question-and-answer format. Some of its 140 examples include queries like “How is the car stopped?” and “What about gasoline?” The Model T manual also highlighted the many rapid improvements in automotive technology, like the exciting advantages of a steam-cooled engine which were explained by the tagline “You can’t burn a boiled egg!”

After World War II, as automobiles became a symbol of middle-class success and an accepted part of everyday life in suburban America, manuals assumed a new importance. Drivers were expected to understand their vehicles and handle small repairs and trouble-shooting on their own. This knowledge became vital for the normal American male, as indicated by the reinforcement found in Ford and Chevrolet manuals from the 1940s and '50s that consistently refer to car owners, salespeople, and servicers each as an anonymous “He.”

Handbooks issued during this golden era of the automobile, from the '40s through the '60s, often featured colorful graphics and heavily-stylized artwork. But by 1970, car companies were producing designs more evocative of a “Summer of Love” concert poster than an instruction booklet, like the Plymouth Barracuda’s cover image of an attractive young couple silhouetted by a colorful, radiating heart shape. Cars could be groovy, too! However, the 1970s also brought an increasing awareness of safety features and regulations, visible in Buick’s manuals which clearly explain the best use of children’s car seats.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Old Car Manual Project

The Old Car Manual Project

Need some help with your vintage car repair? Check out this excellent trove of user-contributed car manual scans an… [read review or visit site]

Hemmings Auto Blogs

Hemmings Auto Blogs

This great (and frequently updated) blog from the folks at Hemmings Motor News is a visual feast of old and new pho… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Most watched eBay auctions    

Porsche Type 356 Maintenance Manual - 1954 Edition (original, Not Reprint)1987 Buick Gnx Owners Supplement Manual Grand NationalVtg 1963 Airstream Traver Trailer Owners Brochure Manual Catalog Book Bambi OrigPorsche 911 Factory Workshop Manuals - Volumes 1 & 2Porsche 911 Factory Workshop Manuals - Volumes Iii, Iv, V, & ViBmw Isetta Factory Repair Manual - One You Can UsePorsche 911 Sc Factory Owner's ManualMercedes-benz Manual For W108, 109, 111, 113Original Volvo Factory Service Manual Set For The 240 Dl & Gl, 1981 - ForwardVolkswagen Beetle Classic Manuals1929-1952 Complete Mg Workshop Tunning Manual M D F J P L N Kn K Ta Tb Tc EtcVintage Ford Tractor, You & Your Desoto, 1934 Chevrolet Motor Cars Owners ManualAlfa Romeo Giulia Ti And Giulia Ti Super Parts ManualLot Of 35 Owners Manual Sets Bmw Honda Toyota Chevy Nissan Ford Dodge Hyundai ++Ford Gt Factory Owners Manual And Document Pouch1958 Mercedes-benz 190 Sl Supplement To Workshop Handbook Manual Type 190 Ferrari 330 Gtc Coupe Spare Parts Manual CatalogueAudi Owners Manual Lot #3Hollander 37th Edition Auto-truck Interchange Manual 1962-1971Chilton's And Haynes Cj7 Repair ManualVolswagen Rabbit Jetta Diesel Service Manual 1977-83 By Robert BentleyLeather Case For Owners Manual Mini Cooper/s1966 Oldsmobile Toronado Original Owners Manual Morris Minor & 1000 Guide To Purchase And Diy Restoration Manual Lindsay PorterAudi Owners Manual Lot #2Audi Owners Manual Lot #1Jaguar Xk8 Drivers Manuals With Leather Cases Excellent Condition!!!Nos 1965 Mercury Comet Registered Owner's Manual1966 Volkswagen Transporter Van Instruction Manual Service Card Vw BookletUsed Cadillac Advance Information To Distributors, Dealers, Salesmen Manual 1925Mercedes-benz W126 Owner's Manual 420sel 560sel 560secOriginal Not A Reprint 1958 Volkswagen Workshop Manual Sedan Karmann Ghia Factory 1986 Toyota Truck & 4 Runner Repair Manual~vintage Volkswagen 1965 1500 Workshop Manual Oem Dealer Manual~96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01 Audi A4 Factory Type Service Manual BentleyVintage Datsun Pick-up Model 521 Series Owner's ManualBultaco Astro Dealer Service Manual1952 53 54 1955 Lincoln Chassis Parts Catalogue Manual1971 Oldsmobile 442 Cutlass Supreme F-85 Wagon Owner's Manual Set1923 4th Edition Lincoln Motor Cars Book Of Instruction Manual1966 Ford Truck Shop Manuals Original Service Books Repair Volume 1, 2, 3, 41966 Ford Mustang Fairlane Comet Falcon Service Shop Repair Manual Factory1968 Original Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme S 442 F-85 Owners Manual Service Opp 68Owner's Manual Porsche Pcm 2.1 For 911 996 997 Cayenne Boxster Cayman No ReserveVintage 1967 Jeepster Series Vehicles Service ManualChilton Repair Manual For 82-92 Camaro 28282Motor's Auto Repair Manual 1935 To 1950Chilton's Auto Repair Manual 1954-1963 Collector's Edition 1970 Ford Mustang Falcon Thunderbird Cougar Factory Service Manual, 5 Volume Set1993 Suzuki Sidekick Factory Repair Service Manual Set 1972-1989 Mercedes Benz Sl Tops Care & Operation Owners Manual-r107-nosMercedes Benz Service Manual 280/300Datsun 240z Original Owners Manual "model S30 Series" Issue Date 4/1/1973Body By Fisher 1967 Service Manual Decent ConditionOriginal Repair Manual Lincoln V12 Engines H-series 1936-19471977 Porsche 928 Workshop Manual Volume Ii Transmission4 Fabulous Vintage Jeep Manual & Supplements - Huge Scout 800 Manual - Look!!!!!Kawasaki '' H " Series Shop Manual1962 Lincoln Continental Owners Owners Manual With Original Key Found Inside1950 Buick Owners Guide Manual With Extra Booklets In Original Envelope