Automotive Research Library Helps Vintage Vehicle Restoration Professionals

Researchers working at the Horseless Carriage Foundation Inc. Automotive Research Library in La Mesa, CaliforniaShops dedicated to vintage cars and trucks should know about the Horseless Carriage Foundation Inc. Automotive Research Library in La Mesa, California. The library’s services include a digital database of car repair manuals that can be accessible to anyone online.

The goal of the library, established in 1985, is to make automotive research and restoration information readily available to restorers. Thousands of owner manuals, sales catalogs, illustrated parts books, brochures, guides and books have been scanned and preserved in the library’s computer system. The library’s collection includes more than 2.4 million pages of scanned material.

The core collection of the HCFI Automotive Research Library includes automotive publications dated from 1895 to 1960. It also offers automotive literature for classics, foreign cars, trucks, sports cars and racing cars. In addition to a very extensive collection of pre-World War II automotive literature of all types, the library has a large archive of materials for post-1943 vehicles as well.

Some automotive publications and journals from 1895 through 1924 made available by the library include Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, Horseless Age, Motor, Motor Age, The Automobile and Automotive Industries. Oversized publications dated through 1960 are currently being scanned.

Once scanned, the items were cataloged, stored and made accessible online via keyword search. The system is designed to utilize optical character and text recognition, so specific and detailed data retrieval is as simple as a mouse click. The scans can be accessed and copies can be purchased from a secure web page or directly from the library.

Visit the HCFI website to search and read available periodicals, or to purchase content. D.A. “Mac” MacPherson, the executive director for the HCFI Automotive Research Library, can be reached by calling 619-464-0301 or emailing

John Gunnell

John Gunnell has been writing about classic cars since 1972. He is also the owner of Gunner’s Great Garage in Manawa, Wis. He owns 11 cars and seven motorcycles.

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