1938 Brough Superior 982cc SS100
Registration no. EVM 635
Frame no. M1S/1994
Engine no. BS/X2 1057
Legendary superbike of motorcycling's 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 Brough's machines had been innovative and well engineered, and his son's 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 latter's 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.
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 SS80's performance threatening to put the overhead-valve MkI in the shade, it was decided to completely re-design the latter. The result was the legendary SS100. First shown to the public in 1924, the SS100 employed an entirely new 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 SS100's 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.
Brough 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. The following year the SS100 adopted an overhead-valve version of the AMC power unit, and the two models continued to use the Plumstead-made engines until production ceased in 1939.
Its accompanying Brough Superior Club copy works record card reveals that this particular SS100 - frame number 'M1S/1994', engine number 'BS/X2 1057' - was supplied new to one Tom Davies of Manchester. Its original specification included the sprung frame, foot gear control, separate oil tank, aluminium front chaincase and pillion seat/footrests. The model is described as 'Demo', possibly indicating that this machine may have been a factory demonstrator, while the Tester's Road Report on its performance makes fascinating reading. Also on file is an old-style buff logbook (issued April 1955) which records that at that time it was attached to a sidecar and owned by one Edward Bromley of Waterfoot, Rossendale, Lancashire.
The only other owner listed is E J Checkley of Wigginton, Oxfordshire, who acquired the machine circa 1959 and kept it until his death in 2000. Eric Checkley was a superintendent engineer who had his own machine shop; a highly skilled engineer, he owned and restored three SS100s including 'EVM 635', which represents a labour of love lasting 40 years. Work carried out included replacing the fuel tank with one to Brough pattern made from stainless steel, while the speedometer likewise is non-original and so are the wheel rims, which would have been chromed with a black centre originally.
We are advised that the machine has been test run occasionally, but has not been licensed or used on the road since its acquisition in 1959. Offered for sale by Eric Checkley's grand daughter, who inherited it in 2000, the machine comes with the aforementioned documentation and old-style Swansea V5 registration document. The original fuel tank is included in the sale.
- The frame number on the V5 is M15 1994 and not M1S/1994 as stated in the catalogue