1826 marked the beginning of Absolom Harper’s modest foundry where he made quality hand-forged fire irons and fenders. In 1901 George Bean became the principle shareholder and in 1907 he became the Chairman of newly named A.Harper Sons & Bean.
A. Harper, Sons & Bean Ltd. prospered during the First World War war and after it had ended George Bean received a knighthood for his services during the war and his son John Harper Bean was given a CBE.
Such was the beginning of a company destined to a history of adventure, speed and great feats for mankind.
Sir George's son, John Harper Bean saw an opportunity in the USA and upon returning home, he established the first twin moving track assembly lines in the UK, following the successful Ford business model from across the Atlantic.
John also formed a consortium of manufacturers inspired by the General Motors model and as a result Harper Bean Ltd. was formed in 1919.
The first Bean car was a resurrection of the pre-World War I Perry car, which had been taken over by A. Harper, Sons & Bean Ltd. 10,000 were made in total. It was launched at London's first post-war Motor Show at Olympia and in its London showroom and depot from 13 Regent Street.
After the First World War, the Bean car eventually came into being and proved itself to be the named British car for Gentleman-Adventurers.
Bean established itself as an innovator in the early 20th Century.
The Roaring Twenties soon saw Bean cars of various colours and sizes driven across Britain’s cities and countryside.
By 1923 A. Harper, Sons & Bean announced to the motoring press at the Connaught Rooms in London the strategic arrival of the large and strong Model 14 to cater to the needs of foreign markets - a unique and insightful move at the time for a British car maker.
A prototype was exported to their depot in Melbourne, Australia.
After arriving in Australia, the Bean 14 would be immortalized as the affectionately named Sundowner, a multi record holding car at the hands of Francis Birtles; adventurer, photographer and filmmaker.
To this day it is on show at the National Museum of Australia.
Birtles, together with journalist Malcolm Ellis and Jimmy Simpson drove the Bean 14 from Sydney to Darwin and back again, a journey never attempted before in a motorcar and despite severe terrain, were triumphant after driving 6,278 miles (10,103 km) returning to Sydney on 21st August.
Three months later, in January 1927, Birtles and Ellis drove The Sundowner and completed another record, this time driving from England to Australia, a journey that took nine months and covered some 16,000 miles (26,000 km).
Succumbed to production difficulties and increased competition during the Great Depression, Beans were only manufactured between 1919 and 1929 and are somewhat rare.
But this did not stop the foundry which continued for many years and in the summer of 1937, Beans Industries constructed Captain George Eyston MC OBE's 7 ton Thunderbolt, a monster Land Speed Record car comprising twin R-type V12 Rolls-Royce Aero engines, (one borrowed from Malcolm Campbell), 3 axles, eight tyres, revolutionary aluminum alloy body, tail fin with painted Union Jacks and hydraulically activated air brakes!
Completed in just 6 weeks, Eyston and his Thunderbolt broke three Land Speed Records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, USA finally managing an astounding 357.50 mph (575.32 km/h) in 1938 surpassing Malcolm Campbell's 1937 Blue Bird record of 301.129 mph (484.598 km/h).