John Haynes, the man who founded Haynes Publishing Group and aided millions of auto owners and enthusiasts repair their vehicles, passed away last Friday, Feb. 8 at 80 years of age. Haynes died after a short period of illness, and is survived by his wife Annette, brother David, sons J and Chris, and grandchildren Augusta, Chrissie, Edward, Freya and Nicholas.
Born in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in March of 1938, Haynes’ interest in motorsports started early. He moved to the U.K. at age 12 (his parents were British), and there learned to wrench on an Austin 7 when he was meant to be at rugby practice – fortunately, his boarding school’s headmaster was sympathetic to his enthusiasm for autos. Once that car was completed, he advertised it for sale, and received over 150 responses. This inspired him to document his build process in order to help others replicate the feat. His very first manual was titled Building a 750 Special, and it sold out its run of 250 copies in only 10 days.
After this success, Haynes added a camera to his arsenal. While in the Royal Air Force in 1965, he helped rebuild a colleague’s Austin-Healey Sprite which had been in rough condition at purchase. He recorded the deconstruction and rebuilding of the Sprite’s engine and other major systems, but went a step beyond pictures and text, also providing exploded diagrams to help those reading his manual understand the detailed steps in his build process. These diagrams later became a signature of his manuals and, indeed, 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 under three months.
Haynes Publishing has been a manual machine ever since, publishing over 200 million manuals 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.
We at RacingJunk.com send our condolences to Haynes’ family and friends. We have no doubt that as long as car lovers work on their vehicles, his legacy will live on in the auto enthusiast community.