Unique Finds in the Archives: Model T Owner’s Manual

Within our Archives in the Local History and Genealogy Department, we have many unique items. One of which is a 1915 Ford Model T owner’s manual, published seven years after the car was first introduced in 1908.

On the inside cover of this manual, there is a note written in pencil from its former owner – the address of the Ford Motor Company, located at 660 Lincoln Ave. This Walnut Hills building once served as an assembly plant for Model T’s and is now in use by Cincinnati Children’s.

Below are some of the interesting notes published within the 1915 Ford manual.

Don’ts For Ford Owners (page 90-93)


At the end of the manual, the ‘Don’ts for Ford Owners’ section outlines practices for Model T owners to avoid related to tires, gasoline, accessories, and other maintenance of their vehicle. These are some of the highlights of the ‘Dont’s’ section:

  • Don’t see how much and how often you can abuse your car
  • Don’t drive fast going down a hill
  • Don’t see how much you can scare elderly folks by driving close, sounding horn, etc.
  • Don’t drive fast when passing a school
  • Don’t use horn when passing a hospital
  • Don’t see how quickly you can stop
  • Don’t see how fast you can start
  • Don’t drive car when brakes need adjusting
  • Don’t measure gasoline with a dirty stick
  • Don’t measure gasoline by the light of a match
  • Don’t fill gasoline tank with oil lamps lit, motor running, or lighted cigars around.
  • Don’t listen to the accessory man. You haven’t room on car for all unnecessary attachments he has for sale.
  • Don’t use oversize tires. They are unnecessary and cost too much.
  • Don’t try to improve the design of your car, or the material in it.


Does speeding hurt the car? (page 13)

In this section, the Model T manual warns against speeding as they state “Excessive speed harms any car-particularly a new one.” Furthermore, “excessive speed is expensive – it shortens the life of both tires and machinery – besides, it’s dangerous. The best car made will not long withstand the strain of unreasonable driving. Racing cars are short-lived. Also – the engine should not be allowed to race.”


What about gasoline? (page 4)

“The ten-gallon gasoline tank should be filled – nearly full – and the supply should never be allowed to get low”. 


For New Owners… (page 14)

Prior to reminding owners to frequently inspect their vehicles and to make any repairs or adjustments as needed, Ford offered tips for new owners as they drove away from the lot with their new Model T’s:

“Remember that a new machine requires more careful attention during the first few days it is being driven than after the parts have become thouroughly “worked in” The car which is driven slowly and carefully when new usually gives the most satisfactory service in the end”. 



This blog was written by Kate McKenzie of the Local History and Genealogy Department.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 859.962.4070 or email us at history@kentonlibrary.org.