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Overview

Harper Sons & Bean was a well-known Midlands firm, founded in 1908 though its history dated back into the 19th Century. They supplied nearly half Britain’s car makers with castings, deliveries running at 500 tons per week. After World War I they decided to become car makers themselves, and took over the design of the 11.9hp Perry. It was obviously a prewar design having been launched in October 1914, and Bean were at a disadvantage from the start in offering an engine with a cast-iron fixed cylinder head bolted to an aluminium crankcase, with a separate gearbox mounted on its own subframe. The capacity was 1796cc. There were ambitious plans to mass produce the car, known as the Bean Twelve, using two factories, a former munitions work at Tipton for assembly and a former shell factory at Dudley for bodywork.

Despite production of about 2000 cars in 1920, overspending led to Harper Bean being wound up at the end of the year. It was not until a year later that they were reorganised and able to restart production. The Twelve was continued until 1927, with about 10,000 being made and was supplemented in 1924 by the 2384cc Fourteen on similar lines, though it had unit construction of engine and gearbox. About 4000 were made to 1928. In 1926 Bean brought out their first six, but not having the capital to make their own engine they bought the 2962cc ohv from Meadows. Designated the 18/50 it also had a Meadows gearbox in unit with the engine.

Harper Bean was taken over by their steel suppliers, Hadfields in 1926, possibly in settlement of unpaid bills for steel. The fresh injection of capital led to two new models, the 2297cc 4-cylinder 14/40 and the 3.8 litre Imperial Six.

Hadfields decided to concentrate on a range of commercial vehicles, and the last Bean cars were made in 1929. Two years later the commercials had gone as well.

One section of the company survived as Beans Industries Ltd., and had further car involvement when they built the Thunderbolt Land Speed Record car for George Eyston in 1937. Much later, as Beans Engineering which had been part of British Leyland, they acquired the Reliant Motor Co., though they sold it again to a consortium headed by former Jaguar executive Jonathan Heynes in 1996.

Models produced by Bean

1919-1929

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