1938 Brough Superior 982cc SS100
Registration no. ETO 481
Frame no. M8/1958
Engine no. BS/X2 1042
Legendary superbike of motorcyclings between-the-wars Golden Age, Brough Superior The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles - was synonymous with high performance, engineering excellence and quality of finish. That such a formidable reputation was forged by a motorcycle constructed almost entirely from bought-in components says much for the publicity skills of George Brough. But if ever a machine was more than the sum of its parts, it was the Brough Superior.
W E Broughs machines had been innovative and well engineered, and his sons continued the family tradition but with an added ingredient - style. The very first Brough Superior MkI of 1919 featured a saddle tank - an innovation not adopted by the rest of the British industry until 1928 - and the latters broad-nosed, wedge-profiled outline would be a hallmark of the Nottingham-built machines from then on. Always the perfectionist, Brough bought only the best available components for his bikes, reasoning that if the product was right, a lofty price tag would be no handicap. And in the Roaring Twenties there were sufficient wealthy connoisseurs around to prove him right. One such was T E Lawrence Lawrence of Arabia who owned several Broughs and was killed riding an SS100.
Introduced in 1922, the JAP-powered SS80 achieved instant fame when a racing version ridden by George became the first sidevalve-engined machine to lap Brooklands at over 100mph. With the new SS80s performance threatening to put the overhead-valve MkI in the shade, it was decided to completely redesign the latter. The result was the legendary SS100. First shown to the public in 1924, the SS100 employed an entirely new overhead-valve 980cc JAP v-twin engine. A frame of duplex cradle type was devised for the newcomer, which soon after its launch became available with the distinctive, Harley-Davidson-influenced, Castle front fork patented by George Brough and Harold Oily Karslake. And just in case prospective customers had any doubts about the SS100s performance, each machine came with a written guarantee that it had been timed at over 100mph for a quarter of a mile - a staggering achievement at a time when very few road vehicles of any sort were capable of reaching three-figure speeds.
With this level of performance available in road trim, it was only to be expected that the SS100 would make an impact on the race track, particularly the ultra-fast Brooklands oval, and the exploits of Brough Superior riders - among them Le Vack, Temple, Baragwanath, Fernihough and Pope - did much to burnish the marques image. When Brooklands closed forever at the outbreak of WW2, Noel Popes Brough Superior held both the sidecar and solo lap records, the latter at an average speed of 124.51mph. Brough had entered the 1930s with an entirely JAP-powered range, and then in 1936 the SS100 was redesigned with an engine built by Associated Motor Cycles, in which form it continued until production ceased in 1939.
Its accompanying Brough Superior Club copy works record card reveals that this particular SS100 - frame number M8/1958, engine number BS/X2 1042 - was supplied new to one A H Rogers, who collected it from the Nottingham factory on 29th March 1938. Also on file is an old-style buff logbook (issued December 1949) which records that it was attached to a sidecar at that time and owned by one Ronald Woodward, of Kingsbury, North London. Brough Club records show that prior to Mr Woodward the SS100 had been owned by a Mr Whitney in 1945, who bought it from Slocombes of Neasden, and then by Chris Shorney, of Chorleywood, Herts. The last owner listed in the buff logbook is one Michael Richard Cooke, whose name is recorded (as previous keeper) on the (copy) Swansea V5 issued in 2001 when the Brough was acquired by collector Howard Wilcox, of Exeter. From Mr Wilcox the Brough passed to a Mr Corelli in Italy and thence to an American collector. The latter sold the machine to Brian Verrall in November 2003. Neither Correlli nor the American collector registered the machine in the UK, and thus Howard Wilcox is recorded as previous keeper on the accompanying old-style Swansea V5. In addition to the aforementioned documentation, the machine comes with an original Brough Superior instruction book; a quantity of photographs; expired MoT (1995-1996); and Swansea V5C registration document.
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