An attractive enough mid-twenties two-seater and dickey, looks robust, decent ground clearance, four-wheel brakes, and the lady driver looks pleased with it. Unfortunately, for almost all of its ten year existence from 1919 the Bean business lurched from one crisis to another, financial, with its manufacturing, and with its products. The cars were intended to be mass-produced and to compete with the likes of Morris and Ford, but they never really got a proper look-in.
It could be argued that as this 14hp 2.4-litre Bean was priced at £395 and the near-equivalent Morris Oxford was a mere £260, admittedly with a smaller capacity engine by 580cc, without any other problems it was almost bound to be on a hiding to nothing. And then another thought came to mind. Even if the cars had become a success, is not Bean one of the oddest names ever applied to a motorcar make? There is nothing wrong with it being a four-letter word as these are near-impossible to shorten and are easy to recognise and remember. Were that not so Ford might have struggled! Bean though just somehow seems an inappropriate name for a motorcar.
A bean is defined as the seed of a leguminous vegetable, it has no other meaning. Broad, haricot, and runner beans are fairly familiar and as the car’s suspension was satisfactory, bouncing beans are irrelevant along with jelly beans.
The car was actually named after two of the directors of the enterprise: George Bean and his son Jack (did he climb a beanstalk?), and it seems surprising that nobody else involved with the project thought to question the suitability of the name.
It is a pity that Bean cars became a ‘has been’ – the badge bearing a blue lion on the attractively shaped radiator is a particularly engaging visual feature of them – but sadly as a car make the name is unknown to most people these days and all that they will be aware of is that Beanz Meanz Heinz.