The history of the Bean Car began back in 1826 when Absolom
Harper commenced work as a fender maker. With his sons, John and Edward,
the business became A. Harper & Sons of Waddam's Pool, Dudley,
In 1884 a bank clerk - George Bean from Lincolnshire - joined the
business. George had earlier married John Harper's daughter, Mary. In
1907 the business became A. Harper, Sons & Bean.
During the First World War the firm was involved in the war effort
making ammunition. Other premises were acquired in Smethwick,
Staffordshire and Tipton, Worcestershire.
In 1918 George Bean and his son, Jack, made the decision to move into
car manufacture, mass producing chassis at Tipton, which were then
driven to Dudley for the fitting of body work.
Early in 1919 Bean purchased all the equipment to produce the Perry 11.9
h.p. motor car from Perry of Tyseley, Birmingham, England. His intention
was to update this model and mass produce it in the same way as the
Model T Ford was produced in America. His aim was to build 10,000 cars a
year and to call it the 'BEAN'.
The 11.9 h.p. Bean was introduced at the 1919 London Motor Show.
Bean became the first British car manufacturer to install moving
assembly lines. The highest monthly output achieved was 505 in July
The firm struggled for the next few years, for a time it became involved
with the British Motor Trading Corporation. Although struggling, two new
models were produced, the Models 12 and 14, these were in competition
with models from Morris and Austin.
1926 saw the firm being taken over by new management - Hadfields - who
in the past had supplied steel to the BMT Corporation. On 23 June 1926
the name of A. Harper, Sons & Bean was dropped and the firm became known
simply as - BEAN CARS.
New car models were designed and produced alongside commercial vehicles
but reliability became their biggest problem and in 1929 car production
Today, 146 Bean Cars and Commercials still exist - 75 in Australia and
71 in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
Many Bean cars were exported to Australia where they were very popular
and were involved in daring exploits.
In 1924 a Model 14 was driven from Sydney to Darwin and back to Sydney,
being the first car to do so, covering, in places terrible terrain, a
distance of 6278 miles (10,103 Km).
In 1926 an open two seater Bean was driven from Darwin to Melbourne,
covering 3380 miles (5439 Km) in 8 days 13 hours.
And in October 1927 this same two seater left London, England, driving
cross country where possible, arriving in Melbourne, Australia on 25
July 1928, a total of 16,000 miles (26,000 Km).