Without John Haynes’ brilliant manuals where would we have been as we tried to get our Hillman Imp to start so we could get to work the next morning? Stranded and probably collecting a P45 by the end of the week. He not only saved many careers but many millions of pounds for those of us keen to do repairs ourselves.

Haynes did not just print manuals they also covered all sorts of motoring subjects, including model histories and motorsport. Indeed they published my first book, Dealing with Car Dealers in 1987 and several more.

I was lucky enough to meet the great man in the early 2000s and he was as passionate and enthusiastic about cars as ever. Indeed, he had just bought a Lexus SC430 and was keen to share the experience. He handed me the keys and said, “take it for a spin”. Behind him, the press relations man was shaking his head furiously and the keys were quietly taken from me before I left the publishing head office in Somerset.

Here are a few words about his remarkable life as released by his family. I have those covers on the wall of the Bangernomics office.

John Harold Haynes OBE

25thMarch 1938 to 8thFebruary 2019

John Haynes, the entrepreneur and creator of the Haynes Manual, founder of the Haynes Publishing Group PLC and the Haynes International Motor Museum passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on the evening of Friday 8thFebruary, aged 80, after a short illness. John was a kind, generous, loving and devoted husband, brother, father and grandfather, who will be missed enormously.

John Harold Haynes was born on 25thMarch 1938 to Harold and Violette Haynes in Ceylon, where his father was themanager of a tea plantation.  From an early age John had a passion for cars, and as a child he loved nothing more than riding around the plantation with his father in their Morris 8 saloon. 

At the age of 12 he moved to the UK with his brother David, to attend boarding school at Sutton Valence School in Kent.  It was at schoolthatJohns flair for art and his entrepreneurial spirit developed and flourished.  He persuaded his House Master to allow him to miss rugby and instead spend his time converting an Austin 7 into alightweight sporty Austin 7 Special’. He eventually sold the car, making a reasonable profit, and owing to the immense interest it received (over 150 replies to the advert) he decided to produce a booklet showing other enthusiasts how he’d made it. He published a booklet entitled “Building A ‘750’ Special’; the first print run of 250 copies sold out in 10 days.

After leaving school John joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) to do his National Service, where he made many lifelong friends.  During his time inthe RAF his role in logistics taught him business management skills, while enabling him to pursue his passion for motor racing and publishing in his spare time.  He successfully developed and competitively raced several race cars, including his Elva Courier, which is on display in the Haynes International Motor Museum.   

It was whilst in the RAF that ‘Johnnymet Annette,and he soon realised he had met the woman he wanted to spend his life with.  On his way to their wedding he stopped to buyAnnette asecond hand IBM Proportional Space Type Writer as her wedding present. Although perhaps not the most romantic of gifts, Annette was delighted with his practical choice, setting the stage for a bright future together.

In 1965, John was posted to Aden and it was therethat he created the firstHaynes Manual.  An RAF colleague had bought a ‘Frogeye’ Sprite, which was in poor condition and he asked John to help him rebuild it. John agreed, and quickly realised that the official factory manual was not designed to help the average car owner. He bought a camera and captured the process of dismantling and rebuilding the engine. The use of step-by-step photo sequences linked to exploded diagrams became the trusted hallmark of Haynes Manuals. The first Haynes Manual, for the Austin Healey Sprite, was published in 1966, and the first print run of 3,000 sold out in less than 3 months. To date over 200 million Haynes Manuals have been sold around the world.

The success of his publishing business, including expansion into Europe and North America, culminated in the Haynes Publishing Group PLC floating on the London Stock Exchange in 1979.  In 1995 John was awarded an OBE for services to publishing, and in 2005 The Open University presented him with the honorary degree of Master of the University.

Johns publishing success meant that he was able to enjoy his passion for cars, and he became a prolific collector. In 1985 he founded the Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford, Somerset as an Educational Charitable Trust, bequeathing his collection of 30 cars to the charity to be held for the benefit of the nation. John continued to support the museum charity throughout his life by donating cars and funding its growth, and thanks to his support the museum has grown and now displays more than 400 vehicles, and is enjoyed by over 125,000 people a year. At the 2014 International Historic Motoring Awards the museum was recognised as The Museum of the Year.

Until 2010 John served as Chairman of the Haynes Publishing Group and then continued to play an active role as Founder Director.  In this role he supported the executive team as they created a world leading content, data and solutions business serving both drivers and professional mechanics. He combined this role with that of Chairman of Trustees of the Haynes International Motor Museum.

John was very much a family man and is survived by his wife Annette, brother David and sister Mary, his two sons; J and Chris and his grandchildren; Augusta, Chrissie, Edward, Freya & Nicholas.  His middle son Marc sadly passed away in October 2016.  Annette contributed hugely to the success of the Haynes Publishing Group and she shares Johns lifelong passion for cars. She still serves as a much respected member of the Board of Trustees for the Museum.

A true gentleman, and a kind and considerate man, John will be greatly missed not only by his family, friends and colleagues but also by the many people that use hismanuals, and benefit from his reassuring guiding hand as they repair and maintain their cars and motorbikes. The appreciation people felt for his contribution was most visible on an almost daily basis at the Museum’s Café 750. While enjoying lunch John was regularly approached by visitors, who would invariably be greeted with his infectious warmth and engaging, enthusiastic boyish smile.  He was always happy to oblige fellow enthusiasts with photographs, engage in conversation and share his passion for cars.