A sportscar need not be a rakish two-seater. Indeed, although made as two-seaters, Bentley, 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam, Type 43 Bugatti and 30/98 Vauxhall are usually visualised as having room for four occupants. Yet few would deny that these were real sportscars. But more sober sporting cars were the Hadfield Bean and the Hillman Husky. The Hadfield General Engineering Company had absorbed Harper Bean by 1926 and produced the first of the pair.
Based on the Bean 14 and relisted as the 14/70, it has been described as being too heavy for the highgeared, old, long-stroke side-valve engine, unreliable and thirsty for oil, with a dubious worm back axle, difficult clutch and gear change and poor brakes. This 2.2-litre Hadfield-Bean was intended to provide an open car for those seeking some fresh air on a small budget. Vacuum-servo brakes gave better stopping power and a slightly cutaway driver’s door and wire wheels provided the sporty look. But its 10ft wheelbase gave it an ugly appearance, and inevitable weight. I was but 16 at the time, so never drove this “has-been”.
It was said that the sports tourer would wind up to 50mph in third and reach 70 on the 4:1 axle ratio. It cost 1.,375, but by 1929 Hadfield’s had abandoned car making.
A similar car was the Hillman Husky, introduced a year before the Hadfield-Bean and also based on its maker’s 14hp chassis.
It was Sir John Black’s answer, or so he hoped, to the MG; he delegated a Mr G Willeby to develop this allegedly more sporting variant of the Hillman 14. A fabric four-seater body was put on the 9ft 6in chassis and the 1953cc side-valve engine was tuned a bit. Willeby was then able to tell his boss that, at Brooklands, he had made a Husky do an hour’s lappery at 65mph.
Coincidentally, or on purpose, the price was the same as that for the open Hadfield-Bean. The Husky also had a four-speed gearbox but a 5.1 to 1 axle ratio and 29 x 4.95 instead of 20 x 4.6in tyres.