1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439

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Lot 506
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80
Registration no. TO 1531 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439

Sold for £ 126,500 (US$ 158,142) inc. premium
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80
Registration no. TO 1531
Frame no. 181
Engine no. 23439
• Delivered new to Germany
• Matching numbers
• UK registered from 1925
• Present ownership since 2015

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.

While equalling a Rolls-Royce for quality of construction and finish, in spirit the Brough Superior was more akin to the sporting Bentley. In its maker's own words, the Brough Superior was 'a type of machine designed from the experienced solo rider's point of view.' To prove the point, Brough lost no time in demonstrating his machine's capabilities in the most attention-grabbing way possible - by racing at Brooklands. Introduced in 1922, the JAP-powered SS80 (so-called because of its guaranteed 80mph top speed in road trim) achieved instant fame when a stripped-for-racing version (nicknamed 'Spit and Polish') ridden by George became the first sidevalve-engined machine to lap the Surrey track at over 100mph. Even more surprising was the fact that this landmark figure had been achieved on its maker's Brooklands debut. That particular Brough Superior SS80 - subsequently re-christened 'Old Bill' - went on to win 51 out of 52 races contested, only failing in the last when a tyre burst.

An early example fitted with JAP's four-cam 980cc motor, this magnificent, matching numbers (registration/frame/engine) SS80 comes with Brough Superior Club copy Works Record Card recording that it was supplied new to Messrs Heinrichs & Eichhorn of Cologne, Germany equipped with 'sidecar gears' and Brampton forks. Its first owner was the son of industrialist Hugo Stinnes, and The Motor Cycle printed a photograph of Herr Stinnes competing on his Brough combination in the Round-Germany Run in its edition of 19th March 1925 (copy on file). The Brough was returned to the factory later in 1925, Herr Stinnes having decided to purchase one of the new SS100 models. The SS80 was registered in the UK on 24th June 1925 as 'TO 1531' and the new owner is recorded as 'Harrison'. The second Works Record Card also shows that the machine had been updated with the new type rear wheel, an SS100 gearbox (number '58377'), Webb forks, and a 'new sporting sidecar'. It is not known when 'TO 1531' was fitted with its Castle forks.

The Brough's whereabouts are not known for almost the next quarter-century. The accompanying old-style continuation logbook (issued November 1948) records the owner at that time as one F A L Cox of Newton, Lancashire. Three further owners are listed, the last of whom, the Reverend Michael John Staines, acquired the Brough in March 1956 and kept it while changing address several times until at least 1967. The file contains a photographically illustrated document written by the Rev Staines, which states that the Brough had been dismantled for some time when acquired and that he restored it, completing the work in 1957. It was discovered that the name of a previous owner, the aforementioned 'Harrison', had been stamped in the crankcase.

In 1959 'TO 1531' was involved in a collision in Birmingham, suffering a broken frame. Presumably, it was considered repairable, as the original frame is still in place today. The Brough was duly rebuilt with a new fuel tank, made by Len Bailey at great expense, and SS100 mudguards. It was used in this form for many years, including two Banbury Runs, netting 2nd and 1st place prizes. 'TO 1531' underwent various changes of specification while owned by the Rev Staines, receiving Castle forks from an OHV 680 and an 11.50 front wheel, the idea being to make it more like the SS80/100 model. Correspondence on file suggests Staines kept the SS80 until 1985, since when it has been restored more than once and returned to virtually its original specification.

Brough Superior Club Register entries show that 'TO 1531' was owned subsequently by Mr Mike Crow and later by Mr Mike Sherwin of Gosport, who had purchased it from Brian Verrall in December 1994 (purchase receipt on file). Subsequently the Brough was owned by a significant Italian collector, passing to the current UK-based collection circa 2015. Additional documentation includes old V5/V5C documents, photocopies of the most recent V5C, and a quantity of MoTs (most recent expired 2003).

Footnotes

  • As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.

Saleroom notices

  • The engine number is KTCY/M 23439/S.
Contacts
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 Frame no. 181 Engine no. 23439
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