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 190-sl Original Buyers , Owners Manual Packet In Vinyl HolAlfa Romeo Giulietta Spider - Original Italian Owner's Manual MajesticLot Of 20 Import And Domestic Vehicle Owners Manuals (48) Owner's Manual Lot Nice Group Toyota Nissan Honda Gm Jeep Bmw ++++Ferrari Owner’s Manual Pouch / Cover Without Tab– 308, 512, MondialPorsche Factory Technical Manual 1954 (rare)Lot Of 50 Gm Chevrolet, Cadillac, Pontiac Owners ManualsFord Xc Falcon 500 Fairmont Gxl Repair Manual Factory Workshop1986 Porsche 911 Manual W/wiring Diagrams For All PorschesLot Of 5 2016 16 Gmc Sierra Owners Manuals 1959 Lincoln Mk Iv Owner's Manual, All Original, Near Mint!(8) Honda Owner's Manual Lot High Grade W/cases & ExtrasJaguar Xj-s Owner's Manual With Blue Cover 19801953 Mercury Owners' Manual Packet Dodge "at4" Series Truck Parts Manual 1960s Chrysler Aust Factory VintageTruck Service Manual Loadstar & Cargostar Vol 1 International1980 Porsche Body Repair Service Manual,Rare Vintage The Sunbeam '260 Workshop Manual Rootes Group Tiger Alpine Shelby(13) Owner's Manual Lot Upper Grade Bmw Honda Toyota Ram Chevy ++++ (10) Owner's Manual Lot High Grade Subaru Ford Honda Volvo Mazda W/caseJaguar Owner's Manual CoverPorsche 2014 Boxster Owner's ManualsUsed Bentley Service Manual Vw Jetta, Golf, Gti, Tdi Diesel / Turbo2013 Range Rover Evoque Owner's Manual With Case 2014 Jaguar Xj Owner's Manual With Case 1958 Buick Special Century Super Roadmaster Chassis Service Manual1986 Nissan 300zx Service Manual Model Z31 Series Repair(9) Owner's Manual Lot High Grade Honda Chevrolet Acura Hyundai Ford...Porsche 911 (996) Turbo Owners Manual 1969 Buick Special Skylark Gran Sport Nos Owners Manual2013 Kia Soul *owners Manual*2015 Ferrari California T Owners Manual Set2016 Toyota 4runner Owners Manual Set W/ Navigation Book, Case & Toyoguard Set Of 4 Toyota Flat Rate Manuals Rt, Ke,rn 12l Series2014 Bmw X5 Owners Manual06 Ford Truck 6.0 Diesel Owners ManualJaguar Xj6 Daimler Sovereign Repair ManualNew! 2017 Ford Mustang Owner's Manual, Warranty Guide, & Quick Reference GuidesOriginal 1973 International Scout Ii Owners ManualOriginal1974 Cadillac Shop Manual & Advance Info Book Very Good Condition2013 Audi A4 Sedan | S4 Sedan Owner's Manual With Case Antique 1918 Atterbury Motor Trucks Manual Not Ford Chevy Automobile Buffalo NyNos Lot Of 8 Buick Owners Manuals 1974 + 1973 Riviera, Electra, Regal, Apollo +1966 Cadillac Shop Manual Good With Dirty CoverAlfa Romeo Alfetta 1973 To 1981-1570, 1779 & 1962cc Owners W/shop Repair Manual2016 Passat Owners Manuals And Cover . Dodge "at4" & "10 Series" Truck Service Manual 1960s Chrysler Factory Vintage1965 Cadillac Owner's Manual And Accessories Catalog2013 Audi A5/s5 Coupe Owners Manuals And Cover , Read Discription !Mopar 1966 Plymouth Service Manual Belvedere Satellite Barracuda Fury Sport Fury2008 Toyota Tacoma Owner's Manual Set With Leather Case. Free Us ShippingVolkswagen Owners Workshop Manual 1954-67Lucas Electrical Equipment Cars & Light Vehicles Maintenance General Info ManualPorsche Owners Manual 911(966)1919 Ford 1923 Chevy Chevrolet Car Auto Automobile Owner Operator Manual Truck 2015 Toyota Prius Owners Manual2016 Toyota Tacoma Owner's Manual Set 2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop/clubman Owners Manual W/misc Booklets (oem)1976 Cadillac Eldorado Owners Manual Set With PouchSuzuki Samurai Canadian English/french Owner's Manual 1987