1926 Brough Superior 981cc SS80/100
Registration no. TO 4092
Frame no. 480
Engine no. KTOR/A 37516
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.
In 1926 Brough Superior had plenty of SS100 frames in stock but there was a shortage of engines. Rather than wait for JAP to supply SS100 engines, they fitted SS80 units and thus the SS80/100 was produced. Only a handful of these unusual machines were made, of which very few survive, and 'TO 4092' is recorded on its Copy Works Record Card as an 'SS.80/100'.
'TO 4092' left the factory in 1926 fitted with sidevalve engine number 'KTR/T 56787/Y' (still in existence) and sometime after WW2 was fitted with a JAP 'KTOR' overhead-valve engine, apparently a mixture of both old and newer components. (The original frame number was removed around this time but has since been re-stamped). Then the rebuild stalled, resuming in 2007 when the current owner handed the bike to well known Brough Superior restorer Tony Cripps for a complete professional restoration. Special features include Castle forks complete with friction damper, 'top hat' competition mudguards, leaf-sprung leather saddle, Binks 'mousetrap' carburettor and straight-through racing exhaust pipes. The bike also comes with a set of nickel-plated silencers for road use and it should be noted that the engine is still tight.
The rebuild was completed in 2008 in time for the Brough Superior Golden Jubilee Rally where 'TO 4092' was successfully paraded round the rally field. It features in the Rally's commemorative book, a copy of which is included in the sale. At the 2012 Brough Superior Annual Rally, the SS80/100 was awarded the Stan Webley Memorial Trophy for the 'Rebuild of the Year', and a photograph of it appears in the October 2012 Brough Superior Club newsletter (copy on file).
A very purposeful looking machine indeed, with its gloss black paintwork and nickel plated tank and mudguards, this rare Brough Superior variant comes with the aforementioned documentation, Brough Club correspondence, instruction booklet (reproduction), and copy/current Swansea V5C registration documents.