The ex-Murray Motorcycle Museum
1934 Brough Superior 996cc SS100
Registration no. AAU 925
Frame no. 1057
Engine no. JTOR/D 39150
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.
The example offered here though represents the SS100 in arguably its most desirable form, equipped with the redesigned JAP 8/75hp twin-cylinder engine. Boasting 'two of everything' (oil pumps, magnetos and carburettors) this magnificent power unit was coupled to a four-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox equipped with positive-stop foot change, and went into a new frame constructed along 11-50 lines. Equipped with the new 8/75 engine, the standard SS100 roadster was capable of 110mph. Quoted in the sales brochure, George Brough stated that he considered the new SS100 to be 'the most thrilling "Batting Iron" I have ever ridden.' Only eight SS100s were manufactured in this specification during the 1934 model year, one of which was destined for T E Lawrence but had yet to be delivered when he died. The Lawrence SS100 remains unaccounted for.
This SS100's accompanying history, including Brough Superior Club correspondence and copy works record card, reveals that it was supplied new via Matthews & Co of Stratford-on-Avon to its first owner, a Mr Bomber, also of Stratford. The Brough originally formed part of a motorcycle combination and was owned by another Stratford resident, Mr Ralph Varden, by 1950, as recorded in the accompanying old-style continuation logbook issued in July of that same year. This logbook's last stamped entry records that the machine was back with Matthews & Co in June 1954. The Brough subsequently passed into the ownership of the famous Murray's Motorcycle Museum in the Isle of Man where it is known to have been by 1973. (There is an old-style V5 registration document on file recording Murray's as owner).
One of the eight SS100s completed in 1934, 'AAU 925' retains its original frame, engine and registration mark. Acquired by the immediately preceding owner in 2005, the machine benefits from a full mechanical and cosmetic rebuild by Ted Scott, with restoration of the fuel tank undertaken by Dave Clark of the Brough Club. The Brough was purchased by the current owner at Bonhams' Stafford sale in April 2008 (Lot 505) and since then has been kept in his private museum. It has also been displayed at the Goodwood Revival meeting and was ridden by Alan Cathcart for a feature in this month's Motorcycle Classics magazine.
The machine comes with the aforementioned documentation and correspondence; assorted restoration photographs; Instruction Book (photocopy); sundry restoration invoices and Swansea V5C registration document. Only completed in 2007, 'AUU 925' represents a rare opportunity to acquire an SS100 in its most sought after, JAP 8/75-engined, 'two of everything' form, fully restored and ready to enjoy. The customary safety checks and re-commissioning are recommended before returning to the road.
- We are advised that a V5C has been applied for and will be forwarded on to the new owner.