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Motoring legend John Haynes who went to Sutton Valence School has died, aged 80

By Chloe Holmwood

Motoring legend John Haynes, who created the famous Haynes car repair manuals, has died.

The 80-year-old, who went to school in Kent, was known across the world for his books, which were used by amateur and professional car mechanics alike.

A statement issued by his family said he passed away peacefully on Friday evening after a short illness.

John Haynes OBE
John Haynes OBE

"John was a kind, generous, loving and devoted husband, brother, father and grandfather, who will be missed enormously," they said.

"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 his manuals, and benefit from his reassuring guiding hand as they repair and maintain their cars and motorbikes."

John was born in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, on March 25, 1938, where his father worked as the manager of a tea plantation.

From an early age, he 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 Sutton Valence School in Maidstone.

Early Haynes motorcycle manuals
Early Haynes motorcycle manuals

It was at school that John's 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 a lightweight sporty Austin 7 'Special'.

He eventually sold the car and, owing to the immense interest it received, he decided to produce a booklet showing other enthusiasts how he had made it.

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 three months.

Since then, more than 200 million Haynes Manuals have been sold around the world.

The success of his publishing business, including expansion into Europe and North America, saw the Haynes Publishing Group 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.

John’s publishing success meant 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.

John is survived by his wife Annette, brother David and sister Mary, his two sons – J and Chris – and five grandchildren.

His middle son Marc died in October 2016.

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