Heynes was educated at Warwick School from 1914 to 1921 before joining the Humber Car Company in Coventry in 1922 where he worked in the drawing office before becoming head of the technical department in 1930. During this time he oversaw the introduction of significant models including the Humber Snipe and the Humber Pullman.
In 1935, after the Rootes Group takeover, he was chosen by William Lyons to join SS Cars Ltd also in Coventry as the company's first Chief Engineer responsible for the whole car engineering and development. Initially he worked on the chassis and suspension but was also responsible for increasing the power output of the modified Standard Motor Company engines then being used. He developed the SS100 sports car with a newly created engineering team.
Following World War II, SS Cars was renamed Jaguar. Heynes who was appointed Technical Director (1946), had earlier persuaded the chairman William Lyons that the company should make its own range of engines. The result was the XK engine. As well as engine development Heynes also directed design on all cars, including the Mark V, XK 120/140/150, the racing C-Type and D-Type, the Mark VII, Mark 1, 2.4/3.4 and Mark 11 saloon cars, E-Type, Jaguar XJ13, Mark X, and XJ6 and XJ12. He designed the V12 engine which was fitted into XJ13 and later in the Series 111 E-Type and XJS. Heynes' motor racing enthusiasm persuaded William Lyons to enter Le Mans, resulting in five victories for Jaguar: 1951 1953 1955 1956 1957.
At the end of 1969 he retired as Vice Chairman of Jaguar, after 35 years of being responsible for all Jaguar engineering and design. Following his retirement it was reported that he intended to "devote his energy and enthusiasm to his farm whilst maintaining his close relationships with William Lyons and the Jaguar directors, Lofty England and Bob Knight.". Shortly before his retirement he was honoured with a CBE for his services to exports and vehicle design. His responsibilities were taken over by R. J. ("Bob") Knight (Chief Vehicle Engineer) and W.T.F. ("Wally") Hassan (Chief Engineer, Power Units), both of whom were appointed to the company's board as part of their promotion.
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