1934 Brough Superior 996cc SS100
Registration no. ATV 294
Frame no. R1040
Engine no. 41230/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.
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.
This SS100's accompanying Brough Superior Club correspondence and copy works record card reveals that it is a 1933 model first registered in 1934 and despatched from the factory early in 1935. The engine is the desirable JAP JTOR/D and this machine also features the ultra-rare Smiths cable-driven tachometer, which is a factory fitting from new. 'ATV 294' was first owned by one S Tate, who collected it from the factory, and next by an S Thompson, to whom it was sold in January 1937. The Brough next resurfaces in Wimbledon in 1945, with subsequent ownership recorded in Lydney (Gloucestershire), Crosskeys (South Wales) and Oxford where it was purchased by the current vendor in 1972. At time of acquisition the machine had been fitted with an ML racing magneto, Amal TT carburettor and reinforced fuel tank, while the frame had been modified. In 2004 it was fully restored to 'production standard' by marque specialist, Dave Clark, who at the time of cataloguing was in the final stages of manufacturing a new black/chromed/lined fuel tank to original specification (please note that at the time of photography the tank was yet to be painted and lined).
'ATV 294' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a matching-numbers (registration/frame/engine) SS100, and is described by the private vendor as in generally excellent condition. The machine is offered with the aforementioned Brough Club documentation, sundry restoration invoices, old-style logbook and Swansea V5 document. A solid-state voltage regulator and halogen headlamp are the only notified deviations from factory specification.