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    

Vintage Original Porsche 356a Factory Service ManualJaguar 2, 4 Litre Mk 2 Manual & Service Book Rare !! Porsche 356 A Drivers Manual, Rare, Original Mint Condition1960 1961 Porsche Super 90 356 B 1600 S-90 Owners Drivers Manual Annex Book Vintage 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, Bug 'fix Your Volkswagen' Manual, BookWillys Overland Parts & Service Manuals1957 Porsche 1500 Gs 356 A Speedster Carrera Original Owners Manual Supplement Original Mercedes 300sl Roadster Owners Manual - B EditionMotor's Auto Repair ManualPorsche 356a Driver's ManualGenuine 1971 Ford Bronco Owner’s Manual1955 Kaiser Manhattan Owner's ManualVolkswagen Eurovan Shop Manuals1954 Kaiser Owner's Manual1978 Porsche 928 Owners Manual Nos New No Reserve!!!Original 1979 Porsche 928 Owner's Manual Nos Very Rare Oem ManualSaab Sonnet 97 3cyl & V4 Parts ManualHollander Car / Truck Parts Interchange Manual 1940 To 1955 22th Edition1983 Porsche 911sc Supplement To Owners Manual Nos No Reserve!!!1939 39 Chevrolet Chevy Owners Manual Original!Gm Ford Honda Toyota Owners Manual Lot Look 76 Books Clean Cheap Lot!Ferrari Mondial Owners Manual Quattrovalvole 1983 U.s. VersionPorsche 928 Owners Manual & JacketLot Honda Toyota Scion Vw Infiniti Kia Mercedes Owners ManualsPorsche 911 Carrera Owners Manual Nos New No Reserve!!!1966-1969 Vw Volkswagen Beetle & Karmann Ghia Service Shop Manual Robert BentleyNational Service Data Manual - All Domestic Models 1938-1952Porsche 944 Workshop Service Manuals 7 Binders Incl. Turbo1983 Toyota Dlx & Sr5 Pickup Truck Repair Manual: Factory / Oem *** 2wd & 4wd1936 Antique Diamond T Motor Car Co Care And Operation Manual Chicago Il OrigHollander Car / Truck Parts Interchange Manual 1960 To 1975 41st Edition1973 Ford Shop Manual Set Of 6 + Pinto Location ChartsNice! Large Lot Of Mercedes Benz Technical Training And Education Manuals Nice!2015 Bmw X6 Owners Manual & Books W/navigation & Case Oem2016 Cadillac Ct6 Owners ManualVw Volkswagen Corrado Owner's Manual And Sound System Manual1989 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Owners Manual Nos No Reserve!!!1931 Owner's Operating Manual: Oldsmobile SixMopar Plymouth Chrysler Imperial 1971 Chassis Service Manual Cuda Duster GtxOriginal Chevrolet Owners Manuals Lot (6)-1966 Chevrolet,1969 Camaro More! Nice!1965 65 Dodge Coronet Owners Manual Original!1977 77 Ford Thunderbird T-bird Owners Manual Original!Citroen Sm Original Factory Parts ManualSaab 95-96 V4 Factory Service Manual1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V Collectors Series Owners Manual & Blue Cover 1983 Porsche 944 Original Owner's Manual & Warranty And Maintenance Book W PouchHollander Car / Truck Parts Interchange Manual 1953 To 1962 29th EditionInstructions For Running Rolls Royce Cars Nov. 1920 Manual 40-50hp 6 CylindersMercedes 250s Owners & Parts Manual Set! W108 English/german/swed/dan/nor- Rare!1957 Gmc Truck Models 100-500 Factory Maintenance Manual2013 Mercedes-benz Sl Owner's Manual With Case And Dom Cd2014 Mercedes-benz M-class Owner's Manual With Case And Dom Cd2015 Mercedes-benz Glk Owner's Manual With Case 2014 Mercedes-benz S-class Owner's Manual With Case 2016 Dodge Charger User Guide Owners Manual Set W/case 16 New + Srt 392 Hellcat2013 Mercedes-benz Ml350 Ml550 Ml63 Amg 4matic Bluetec Oem Owner's ManualCadillac Owners Manual1972 Motor's Auto Repair Manual 1966 Thru 1972 35th Edition 1st Printing1989 Ford F150/f250/f350/f Series Owners Manual Service Manual Operator BroncoFord 1967 Service Shop Manual For Mustang Cougar Fairlane Falcon Mercury Good