Clarity Through Minimalism

I was looking through my Triumph Haynes manual the other day trying to sort out a gearbox issue I’m having and realized that it’s nearly impossible to make sense of the low-contrast photography that accompanies the instructions.

It’s a few things, really: the low quality printing; the poor cropping that makes it difficult to discern what is the relevant item that I’m supposed to be looking at; the lack of quality lighting. It all made me wish that my trusty old copy of John Muir’s How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot was available for every make and model. The illustrations—cartoony as they are—do a much better job of highlighting the relevant information. It’s part of what makes it, in my opinion, the best repair manual ever written.

When I stumbled across this image of an E-Type’s rear end dropped, it prompted the same thought. The Haynes or Chilton version of this image would be full of shadows and low-contrast grays and make the whole thing a jumbled mess to understand. I can’t even read German and I can understand what’s going on here.

Take note, repair manual publishers.

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