1922 Brough Superior 981cc MkI
Registration no. MB 1159
Frame no. 469
Engine no. KTC/M/30648
Quite what George Broughs father - Nottingham-based motorcycle manufacturer William Edward Brough - thought when his younger son cheekily added the word Superior to the family name when founding his rival marque can only be imagined, but its thanks to this act of youthful bravado that we have one of the greatest and most evocative names in motorcycling. 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 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. Hand built in small numbers, the Brough Superior was - inevitably - expensive, but as its maker acknowledged, he never intended to produce (the) design as cheaply as possible.
After the first handful of machines had been constructed in temporary premises towards the end of 1919, production shifted to what would be Broughs permanent home in Haydn Road, Nottingham, where production proper commenced in 1920. J A Prestwich of London and Motosacoche of Geneva supplied v-twin engines for the MkI and MkII Brough Superiors respectively, though within a few years all models would be JAP-powered. The early MkI came with JAPs famous overhead-valve 90 bore 986cc 50-degree v-twin engine as standard, though there was an alternative longer-stroke sidevalve version available for sidecar work. Gearboxes were sourced from Sturmey-Archer and (initially) forks from Montgomery, while frame and accessory manufacture was contracted out to specialists in the British motorcycle industrys Midlands heartland. With the arrival of the sporting SS80 in 1922, the MkI, which more often than not left the factory with the sidevalve JAP installed, took on more of a touring role. The 90 bore version was not catalogued after the SS100s introduction in 1924, though the MkI continued to be available with the sidevalve engine for a little while longer
This very early Brough Superior MkI was despatched in September 1922 to Northern Supplies in Oldham, a Brough agency covering all the North of England. In the 1950s the machine was purchased by the late owner in Kent from one Geoffrey Ball, whose father had owned it since the 1930s when a major rebuild had been carried out to bring it up to date. To this end, the forks were replaced, newer brakes and different mudguards fitted, the gearbox changed and a 1924 engine installed. We are advised that the only significant original parts remaining are the frame and possibly the fuel tank. However, MB 1159 has existed in its current form for at least 70 years and is one of the oldest Brough Superiors in existence, its later modifications notwithstanding. Only nine or ten of this type are known to survive, plus half-a-dozen-or-so spare engines and the like. As currently presented, the machine is far more rideable than a standard Mk I and as an added bonus is fitted with a period Bonniksen 100mph speedometer. Offered in need of sympathetic restoration, and representing a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the dedicated Brough collector, MB 1159 comes with old-style continuation logbook (issued 1945), Swansea V5 registration document, a photograph of late owner pictured riding the machine in the 1980s and another of him as a young boy on the Brough c.1937.