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    

Toyota Land Cruiser 1979 Fj40 Fj45 Rare Vintage Owners Manual.Workshop Manual 911 Porsche1968 68 Camaro Owners Manual; Folder Protect-o-plate Chassis Broadcast Copy MoreInternational Scout Ii Pickup Traveler Truck Service Manual Cts-2310 1976 1977Mazda Rx7 1985 Shop ManualVintage Vw Exchange Service Parts Catalog Manual 1947-73 Bug Bus Ghia Type 1 2 31966 Ford Mustang Owners Manual First Printing 1965 W/ Ownercard 1st Edition1968 Oldsmobile Dealer Tech. Service Binder Manual Book 68 442 Cutlass Toronado1987 Buick Regal Grand National Owner's ManualBulk Lot Of 38 Owners Manuals Nissan Didge Toyota CadillacPorsche Factory 912 Engine Manual Mint8 Jeep Service And Repair Manual Collection Cj/wrangler/scrambler Chilton Mr 252Land Rover Salesman's Manual 1957 Edition.Original M37 Dodge Truck Operators Manual 19732013 Mercedes-benz S-class Owner's Manual With Case1964 64 Ford Falcon Mercury Comet Factory Repair Shop Service ManualOriginal Porsche 911 E Owner Manual Service Manual & Wallet Folder 1968 1969Mitchell- Interchange Manual-1961 To1975- Muscle Car Era-camaro Chevelle VetteHaynes Owners Service Repair Manual Mitsubishi Pajero Series Na - Nj 1983-1996Vintage 1973 Datsun Pick-up Service Manual Model 6201954 Original Cadillac Shop Manual General MotorsRare! 1967 Ahra Drag Racing Rule Book & Technical Manual Drag Strip TechMg Midget Series Td And Tf Workshop Manual Bmc July 1955 Book1989 Honda Crx ManualToyota Land Cruiser Shop Manual Fj40 Fj60 Fj62 Fj80 Fzj80Lot Of 21 - - 2014 & 2015 Toyota Owners Manuals Near New Mint Cord 810 812 Literature Factory Service Bulletins Parts List Owners Manual +1934 Studebaker Confidential Book Of Facts Salesmen Manual, Pierce Arrow Prices1968 Dodge Service Manual For Charger/coronet/dartMercedes-benz R107 560sl 1988 Model Year Original Owner's ManualCj-7 1984 Jeep Owner's Manual Original Triumph Tr4 Competition Prep Manual W Orig, Mailer & Accessories SheetLand Rover Workshop Special Tools Manual 4375California Bill's Hotrod Manual 1947 Fred Fisher 1966 Lincoln Continental Shop ManualHow To Build A 1000hp Ford 5.0 302 351w/ 418 Stroker Engine Manual Video "dvd" *vtg Original 1919 Model T Ford Repair Manual "the Ford Text Book" E.f. Hallock2013 Ford F-150 Owner's Manual With Case1972 Amc Technical Service Manual Gremlin Hornet Javelin American Motors Rambler2014 14 Chevy Camaro Owners Manual1922 Twin-six Packard Owners Manual,03-07 Dodge Caravan/chrysler Town & Country & Voyager Haynes Repair ManualFormula Very Rare 1975 Ford Racing 1600 Cortina Workshop Manual Good Complete 1969 Fisher Body Manual Camaro Chevelle Impala NovaCadillac 1946 Shop Manual Supplement1952 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 Porsche Part List Mitchell Collision Manual Pictures 1949 California Bill's Hot Rod Manual Fred FisherLot Of 3 Autobooks: Mga/mgb, Triumph Stag & Triumph Tr5 Tr6 Repair Manuals Glenn's Chilton 1966 Auto Repair Manual American Cars 1957 To 1966 Nice Vintage 1932-1941 Early Ford V-8 Books & Manuals Total Of 4Mazda Rx7 1985 Owners Manual EtcChilton Repair Manual-1982-92 Pontiac FirebirdVintage Fomoco Original 1967 Ford Galaxie Owner's ManualCj-7 1984 Jeep Owner's Manual 1965 Mercury Comet Registered Owner's Manual1946-1972 Parts Manual 1 1/2 Thru 2 1/2 Ton Truck Series 40-50-60, Chevrolet Toyota Land Cruiser Fj 40 Factory Technical ManualRare F.j. Series Holden Shop Manual+298p.-part No M31374-good Cond. B & W, Pics+C Smart Cabriolet Electric Owners ManualPrice Reduced!! Original Bmc Sprite And Midget Factory Shop Manual !!!!