The first production model
1935 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Motorcycle Combination
Registration no. BTO 42
Frame no. M8/1502
Engine no. BS/X4 4070
In producing Brough Superior machines the makers object is to provide motor cycling of as luxurious a character as possible, which means that comfort is not to be sacrificed for the sake of performance, but both these qualities must be present to the highest possible degree. Behind the production of the new SS80 there is an additional object, and that is to provide a machine completely equipped and possessing all the Brough Superior characteristics but selling at a comparatively low price. The Motor Cycle, 1st August 1935.
The above quotation is taken from The Motor Cycles test of the actual machine offered here, BTO 42, the first Matchless-engined SS80 production model. Brough had entered the 1930s with an entirely JAP-powered range and then, after a brief absence, the SS80 reappeared in 1935 as the SS80 Special, this time with an engine built by Associated Motor Cycles. Although broadly similar to that of the Matchless Model X, the 982cc sidevalve v-twin incorporated Broughs preferred knife-and-fork big-end bearing arrangement instead of the side-by-side connecting rods of the Matchless. By now recast in the mould of luxury tourer or sidecar tug, the SS80 continued to use the AMC engine until production ceased in 1939, by which time 460 of Matchless-engined type had been built, of which some 300-or-so survive.
Although The Motor Cycles test (copy available) of the SS80 (which was attached to a sidecar at the time) clearly shows the registration mark BTO 42, Brough Superior Club Registrar, Mike Leatherdale advises that this should not be taken as conclusive proof of identity, as Brough often fitted whatever plates were to hand at the works at a given time! Nevertheless, the engine number 4070 is the lowest in the normal production series and although deliveries of the new SS80 commenced in July 1935, this particular machine was not despatched until 2nd November, which would appear to confirm its retention by the factory (see Brough Club correspondence and copy works record card on file).
The current vendor acquired the machine, which had been dismantled, in March 1998. BTO 42 came with a logbook, confirming that the frame and engine numbers matched, while the factory records later confirmed that the gearbox too was original. Missing components included the front and rear hub internals; speedometer drive; headlamp; front fork suspension links; front wheel; carburettor; and assorted minor parts.
The restoration commenced with the commissioning of a new fuel tank from Ernie Rowe. This was made to the same pattern as the tank shown in the road test article (with two hinged filler caps) the one that had come with the machine being incorrect. The engine was rebuilt by Ken de Groome and the gearbox overhauled by Dave Clarke, who also provided a suitable carburettor, while the magneto and dynamo were sent away for reconditioning. Spraymaster in Bournemouth were entrusted with all repainting, including the fuel tank. Dave Clarke later supplied a Brough front hub, and the brake assembly that had come with the machine, although incorrect, was modified to the correct specification.
Although BTO 42 had been road tested in 1935 attached to a Brough Cruiser chair, the works record card makes no mention of a sidecar and neither does the accompanying old-style logbook (issued 1959). The machine nevertheless comes with a sidecar chassis and set of plans for a Brough Superior Cruiser single-seat sidecar, thus enabling a future owner to return it to this specification if he/she so desires.
As yet unfinished but with most of the hard work already completed, this historic Brough Superior SS80 is offered with the aforementioned documentation, sundry restoration invoices and copy/original Swansea V5 registration documents.