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    

1957 Mercedes-benz Type 190 Sl Instruction Manual Edition C & Catalog B1974 Saab Sonett Iii Service Manual And Owners ManualFord Falcon "xe" Fairlane "zk" & "fd" Ltd Aust Factory Repair Manual 1978 "the Morgan Four Wheeler Workshop Manual" - Vintage Copy, Earliest CarsHolden Torana "lc" Inc "gtr"genuine Factory Workshop Manual Gmh Nasco 1969 RareHolden "fb" Genuine Factory Workshop Manual Gmh Nasco 1959 Rare1968 Camaro Chevelle Chevy Ii Owner's Manual+ Proto Plate & MoreFord Falcon "xb" Inc "gt" & Fairlane "zg" Aust Factory Repair Manual 1974 Model A Ford Mechanics Handbook Repair Manual Service 1928 - 1931 AndrewsBoat Guest Charger Model#2611a With Owners Manual &box Works Great Must See1981 Toyota 4wd 4x4 Pickup Owners Manual Original & Nice!!!Ford Falcon "xf" Fairlane "zl" & "fe"ltd Aust Factory Workshop Manual 1986 RareHollander Auto Truck Interchange Manual 39th Edition Covers Late 50's To 1973Mini Cooper, S & Convert Service Manual 02 03 04 05 06 Bentley PublishersFamous Ford V-8 1932 - 1948 Flathead Book Manual Sorensen Hot Rod1970 Plymouth Barracuda Operators Manual , Oem Very NiceSun Electric Instruction Manual Handbook Eet-1120 Eet-920 And 820 Engine TesterModel A Ford Carburetors Repair Manual Moller Booklet Rebuild1987 Buick Product Manual-dealer Album:grand National-riviera Gold-t-type,more!Lot Of 25 Vehicle Owner's ManualsNos Chrysler Valiant Vc Owners Manual Glovebox Instruction Regal V8 6 Sedan Ute Mercedes Benz 280 Sl Owners Manual *as New*Porsche 928 S 1984 Vintage Original Owner's Car Manual Volkswagon Official Service Manual 1966-69 BeetleOwner Manuals Lot 63 Chev 59 Merc 50 Merc Mgtd 79 Lincoln1969 Dodge Charger Owner Manual Original Set Airtemp Cards Mint NosDatsun 240z Factory Service ManualOriginal 1959 Saab 93 Owner's Manual"book Of The Morgan" By R. M. Clarke - Early Threewheeler Workshop ManualMotor's Auto Repair Manual 1970 - Very Good ConditionService Manual 1976-93 Volvo 240 Models Vintage 1964 Chevrolet Owners Manual Guide + Custom Feature Brochure1942 Sun Motor Tester Master Model Instruction Manual 1987 Porsche 911 Turbo And Carrera Owner's Pouch And Manuals1969 Pontiac Chassis Partsand Body Parts Catalog 2 In 1 Factory Dealer ManualBmw Z3 Owners Manual Book Booklets Guide Information & Case2013 Mercedes-benz S-class Owner's Manual With Case And CdYamaha Motorbike Factory Ignition Trouble Shooting Manual Fj1100 Xj600 650 4001959 Edsel Maintenance Manual Original 1960-1970 Mitchel Car-truck Parts Interchange Manual Gm Ford Chrysler Chevy OldsOriginal 1956 Studebaker Automobile Instruction, Care Owner's Manual -1st EdVintage Mercedes Benz 280 Sl Pagoda Owners ManualModel A Ford Troubleshooting & Diagnostics Repair Manual 1928 - 1931 AndrewsFix Fords 1940 - 1955 Flathead Y Block Grey Chilton Manual Repair Service BookTvr Owners Handbook Manual 1969 Camaro Chevelle Chevy Nova Owners Manual + Extras!Ih International Acco Butterbox Factory Service Workshop Manual 19681940 Original Lincoln Zephyr V12 Owners Manual Reference Book & Inserts1942 Original Lincoln Zephyr V12 Owners Manual Reference Book ~ Nice ShapePorsche 356 A Driver's Manual (reprint Edition 1964)1970? Nissan Model P Engine Factory Service Manual Nissan Patrol?Vintage1982 Datsun 280zx Service Manual Book Model S130 SeriesMercedes-benz Factory Service Manual Chassis And Body Series 123, Volumes 1 & 2Pontiac Facts 1935 Salesman's ManualJaguar V12 Series 3 E-type Repair Operation Manual2013 13 Chevy Silverado Owners ManualS-10 Conversion Truck V-8 Manual1957 1958 Mercury Body Parts Catalog Preliminary Edition Oct 1957 Manual 1953 1954 Mercury & Monterey Body Parts Catalog Final Edition Mar 1955 Manual Volvo 121/122s (1965) Owners Manual / Folder