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Repair Manual Mogul John Haynes Passes Away

John Haynes in his RAF uniform. Image courtesy Haynes Publishing.

John Haynes, founder of Haynes Publishing Group and responsible for helping millions of auto enthusiasts and hot rodders fix or improve their vehicles, passed away last Friday, Feb. 8 at 80 years of age. Haynes is survived by his wife Annette, brother David, sons J and Chris, and grandchildren Augusta, Chrissie, Edward, Freya and Nicholas.

Born in British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1938, Haynes’ interest in cars began at an early age. He moved to the U.K. at 12 (his parents were British), and a while thereafter learned to wrench on an Austin 7 when he was meant to be at rugby practice – luckily, his boarding school’s headmaster was sympathetic to his enthusiasm for autos. He advertised the finished car for sale. Receiving more than 150 responses, he was inspired to document his build process to help others replicate it. The resultant manual, Building a 750 Special, sold out its run of 250 copies in only 10 days.

After this, Haynes added a camera to his arsenal. While in the Royal Air Force in 1965, he helped rebuild a colleague’s Austin-Healey Sprite. He recorded the deconstruction and rebuilding of the engine and other major systems in a second manual, but went beyond pictures and text, also providing exploded diagrams to help readers understand the detailed steps in his build process. These diagrams later became a signature of his manuals and, in fact, the manuals put out by his publishing company. The first official Haynes Manual was published in a run of 3,000 copies, all of which sold out in less than three months.

Haynes Publishing has cranked out high-quality manuals ever since, publishing over 200 million around the world on vehicles ranging from standard cars and motorcycles to specific Formula 1 cars, electric locomotives and even a space shuttle. The company’s North American headquarters is run out of Newbury Park, Calif.

There's no doubt that as long as car lovers work on their vehicles, Haynes' legacy will live on in the auto enthusiast community.