The charity shop: where Haynes manuals go to die

Pity the humble Haynes workshop manual. Not for it a home in the library or the role of a keepsake, passed down like an heirloom through the family tree. For the poor Haynes manual is often cast aside, deemed surplus to requirements when a motorist’s eye has wandered afar.

At best it’ll be left in a garage, sandwiched between discarded oil cans and tins of old paint. There cannot be a garage in the land in which this bright and colourful book hasn’t raised its head, lending more than a helping hand.

There the book will get damp, pages turning up at the edges, wrinkling over time. What use is the manual to anyone now, when the car has been and gone?

The cutaway drawing has faded, the colours turning pastel-grey. A lifetime told not of stories, but of rebuilds, repairs and hands grazed.

Oily prints and rings of coffee: reminders of lost Sunday afternoons, when drip trays and spanners were never that far away. A pristine manual, free of wear and tear: a suggestion of a car that somehow survived without the right care.

Today, the book is outmoded, left behind by changing times. Why consult a manual, when a chap in St. Ives is ‘Periscoping’ his rebuild live? Ask Siri, ask Google or maybe ask Echo. Asking Haynes, well isn’t that a bit last year?

So where does the Haynes manual go from here, now that the Carltons, Cavaliers and Chevettes have all gone? The books outnumber the models, by a figure approaching 100 to one. To the tip, or maybe the recycling. Or chancing your hand on eBay, amongst the other two thousand and one.

For most, it’s a lengthy retirement, filed under ‘Transport’, ‘Special Interest’ and ‘Hobbies’. Bookended by aviation, or by railways, science fiction and art.

Fords, Vauxhalls and Saab, they’ve got them all here. Yours for a pound or the price of a beer. There’s an off-chance that somebody might buy one, for that Renault 14 they discovered way back when. But most likely they’ll sit there ’til the end of time, at the charity shop, where the manual goes to die.

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.


  1. January 29, 2017

    only today i found a nissan micra (1982-1992) manual in oxfam. Pristine condition too, probably on the grounds that the hip replacements sported by most of these cars’ owners ruled out everything bar the most cursory maintenance. or was it just that the series 1 micra was resolutely reliable? apologies for the capitals, seems to be no way to avoid them. I’m using an apple mac and safari: has anyone else encountered this problem?

    • January 29, 2017

      So, comes out in capitals on screen but then appears as normal on the actual site. Curiouser and curiouser…


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