Happy New Year!  Learn About Vehicle Model Years and Calendar Years


In less than a week, we’ll ring in the 2019 new year, but we’ve been able to buy 2019 cars and trucks for months already. This practice of beginning the model year early started in the teens. Farmers were flush with cash from selling their crops in fall, so that’s when they were most likely to buy a car or truck. Car companies marketed to customers’ desires to have the newest, most improved model. Manuals and literature are frequently printed and dated during the fall of the previous calendar year. For example, a sales brochure printed in August of 1968 is typically for a 1969 model year vehicle.

This leads to plenty of confusion as cars and trucks sometimes get registered for license plates as their calendar year purchase date instead of their model year date. Confusion can usually be cleared up by checking the VIN/serial number. If you need help figuring out which book to buy, you can call us or email us with your serial number.

Car companies further complicate matters by introducing select models at other times of the year, known as “mid-model year.” The most famous of these is the 1964 and a half Mustang, which debuted in April of 1964. According to Ford’s marketing, however, the car is a 1965 Mustang. There are some minor differences between mid-1964 and 1965 models, but the literature addresses all cars as 1965 models. Ford revised the owner’s manual, so that there are two versions, one for 1964½ and one for 1965. Both are marked 1965. The difference in the cover is subtle, but if you look closely, you can see that two of the drawings are reversed on the books.

1964 1/2 Ford Mustang Owner's Manual

1965 Ford Mustang Owner's Manual

From all of us at Faxon Auto Literature, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year!