1931 Brough Superior 990cc SS100
Registration no. TV 4988
Frame no. S1034
Engine no. JTO/H/13687/S
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. 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 SS80's 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 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.
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 marque's image. When Brooklands closed forever at the outbreak of WW2, Noel Pope's 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. Lighter and faster than the subsequent Matchless-engined version, the JAP-powered SS100 has long been regarded as the ultimate incarnation of this famous model.
This particular SS100 - frame number 'S1034', engine number 'JTO/H/13687/S' - was first registered on 28th August 1931 and supplied new to one S D Parsons. On file is an old-style continuation logbook (issued July 1947) which records that it was owned at that time by one Richard Thomas, of Davenport. Four further owners are recorded up to 1961 all in the south west of England the last one listed being Mr William Turner. It is known that this machine was severely damaged in a fire at Turner's Nurseries, Parkstone, Dorset in August 1970, eyewitness accounts stating that everything aluminium had melted, including the engine and gearbox castings. The machine's remains subsequently passed through the hands of several Brough Superior Club members (the original Bentley & Draper rear sub-frame was spotted for sale at the 2009 Beaulieu autojumble!) before it was rebuilt during the 1990s. 'TV 4988' then passed into the ownership of a prominent private collector in the Reading area and was sold by Brooks at its Beaulieu Sale in July 1999 (Lot 172) when his 52-machine collection was dispersed. The Brough was purchased by a private collector in the West Country, who is listed as the registered keeper in the accompanying Swansea V5 registration document. The machine was acquired for the Pamplona Collection in 2007.
- 1931 Brough Superior 990cc SS100
Registration no. TV 4988
Frame no. S1034
The engine number is JTO/H/13697/S
This machine's original rear subframe (stamped 'S1034') and original 'SB' gearbox are available via separate negotiation with the current owner of these items. The successful bidder should contact Bonhams' Motorcycle Department for further information.