J W Tennant-Eyles restoration
1937 Brough Superior SS100
Frame no. M1/1897
Engine no. BS/X2 1099
Legendary superbike of motorcycling's between-the-wars 'Golden Age,' Brough Superior - 'The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles' - is 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. Always the perfectionist, George Brough bought only the best available components for his motorcycles, 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.
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-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 tourer reappeared in 1935 as the SS80 Special, this time with an engine built by Associated Motor Cycles, originally to power its Matchless Model X. The following year the SS100 adopted an overhead-valve version of the AMC power unit, which in SS100 specification incorporated Brough's preferred 'knife-and-fork' big-end bearing arrangement instead of the side-by-side connecting rods of the Matchless. The SS100 continued to use the Plumstead-made engine until manufacture ceased in 1939. Production of the AMC-engined SS100 was 102 machines, making it the rarest of the marque and by far the most user-friendly and reliable. Survivors number 71 worldwide.
Factory records held by the Brough Superior Club show that this SS100 left the works fitted with engine number 'BS/X2 1041', which exists in another SS100 in the UK. Subject of a restoration in 1990 by UK specialist, J W Tennant-Eyles, this Brough Superior SS100 was featured in Cycle World magazine's April 1991 edition, and also on the front cover, soon after its arrival in the USA (copy article available). The Brough has remained in the care of one family since that time, often displayed at the San Diego Automotive Museum. With its optional chromed fenders, nickel-plated fuel tank, fishtail exhausts and leather-faced toolboxes, this SS100 is every inch 'The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles.'
Since that time, the SS100 has remained in the care of one family, often displayed at the San Diego Automotive Museum, and is now being offered for sale for the first time. With its optional chromed fenders, nickel-plated fuel tank, fishtail exhausts and leather-faced toolboxes, this SS100 certainly exemplifies the famous marque's advertising motto, "The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles." It is powered by an AMC-built Matchless 1000cc V-Twin, one of 102 SS100s so-equipped, according to the Brough Superior Club.
Each SS100 that left the factory was certified as capable of attaining 100 miles per hour, an astounding claim in the 1930s. Editor Edwards got this very Brough up to an indicated 80 mph with plenty of throttle to spare before discretion on the borrowed bike slowed him down. After the speed run, he reported that the bike "felt as solid and stately as the Houses of Parliament, with a restrained but muscular melody flowing from the twin fishtails. Vibration at that speed was minimal. It's easy to see how (noted SS100 owner) T.E. Lawrence knocked off repeated 500- to 700-mile days aboard his Broughs."
- Please note that this motorcycle is titled with frame number 1897.