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    

Jaguar E Type Series 1 "original" Owner's/service Manual 4.2 Bmw 3-series M3 E30 2 Door Coupe Owners Manual + Service Book + Case Porsche 356 / 912 Secrets Of The Inner Circle Pellow Manual Technical VintageToyota Land Cruiser Fj40 Owner's Manual 1979 - Fj45 Fj55 Vintage1968 Shelby Cobra Gt350 Gt500 Mustang Owners Manual Book Ford Gt Boss Saleen 428Original Jaguar Xk 120 Owners Manual R.p.3 13/11/52928 Porsche Shop Manuals1987 Buick Regal Grand National Owners Manual 1986 Turbo Regal Gn We4 Wh1 BooksOriginal Factory Corvette 1966 Owners Guide / Manual First Edition1984 308 Quattrovalvole Ferrari Owners Manual 1973 Suzuki Lj20, Lj20v, L50, L51, L50v Utility Vehicle Factory Service Manual 1968 Cadillac Owner Manual & Warranty Book / Protection Plan In Original CasePorsche 912 (1968) Drivers Manual 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Fury Valiant Gtx Road Runner Factory Service Manual 4261970 Buick Service Manual Gs 455 Electra 225 Riviera Skylark Lesabre WildcatRare Vintage 1928 Willys-overland Whippet Model 96 Automobile Parts List ManualVintage Gregory's Holden Manual Hk Ht Hg 1968-71 Sedan Wagon Monaro V8 327 350Lot Of 8 Bmw Porsche Audi Mercesdes Lexus Vw Acura Owner ManualEarly Porsche 1967 911 Sportomatic Owners Manual Brochure Supplement 911e 911t Lot Of 6 Lexus Automobile Owner's Manuals With CasesFerrari 360 Owner And Stereo Manuals1986 Buick Factory Repair Manuals, 6 Volume Set, Grand National, Gnx, RegalSaleen Mustang Owners Packet 89 90 91 92 Sc Ssc Svt Steve Manual 19 8887 Son Bin241 Hemi Red Ram 1953 Dodge Shop Service Manual SupplementShelby American Inc 1965 Gt350 Mustang Owners Manual Book Ford Cobra Boss Gt 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Owner's Manual With CaseNcrs 1961 - 1962 Corvette Technical Manual And Judging Guide1969 Volkswagon Bus Original Owners Manual! Vw Bus!Lot 30 Cadillac Oldsmobile Owners Manuals 78-98 Deville Seville Eldorado CutlassSubaru Svx Service Manuals.Lot Of 13 - - 2013 & 2014& 2015 Ford Owners Manuals Brand New Mint 1988 Ferrari Mondial 3.2 Cabriolet Original Leather Pouch,manuals And KeysJaguar Xk120 Mk 7 Service Manual Superb ConditionS.u. Workshop Manual Carburetters & Fuel Pumps 1956Lot Of 8 Automobile Owners Manuals With And MoreLot Of 5 2014 14 Chevy Camaro Owners ManualsUsed Vw Volkswagen Jetta Golf Cabrio Service Repair Manual Mk3 93-99 Bentley1987 Oem Toyota 4a-f, 4a-ge Engine Shop Service Manual - Rm063e'06 Porsche Boxster Complete Owners Manual Set! No Reserve!Lot Of 50 Vintage 1951-1959 Ford Mechanic Service Forum Manuals BookletsCorvette Shop Manual 1966 - 1982Chrysler Parts Price List 1939 Book Manual , Dodge De Soto Plymouth Trucks 1971 Opel Gt Nos Owners ManualCaterpillar 416 Loader/backhoe Service ManualNapco Exploded Views ManualVw Volkswagen Split Oval Zwitter Owners Manual1936-1942 Motor's Flat Rate Manual W/part #'s Packard Plymouth Hudson Cadillac++Vintage Ford Manual S, 1914 & 1931 And Vintage Paperwork. All For One.Cadillac Lasalle Shop Manual For 19402013 Toyota Highlander Owner's Manual With CaseMercury Maintenance Manual 1956Vintage 1936 Chilton Flat Rate Manual Auburn Hudson Cord Plymouth WillysLot Of 22 Vintage 1960/1961 Ford Service Technician Manuals BookletsLloyd Lt 600 Owners ManualPorsche 914 Owners Workshop ManualAlfa Romeo Maintenance Manual Sport Sedan Sprint Veloce Spider Lot Of 10 - - 2014 Honda Owners Manuals - - Near Brand New Mint 1935 1939 1940 1941 1946 1947 1948 Pontiac Master Parts Price List Book ManualCadillac Lasalle 1939 Shop Manual OriginalCummins Service Shop Manual Big Cam Iv New Big Cam 88 Big Cam Iv Nt855 Engine