Brough -Superior Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Brough Superior 1922 SS80

Estimate: £ 250,000 - 270,000
Sold for: £291,200

Reg Number: FR 3925
Frame Number: N/A
Engine Number: KTRE9069
Body Colour: Black
CC: 980

The motorcycle was built in 1922 by the Brough factory for the personal use of George Brough, founder of Brough Superior Motorcycles. Featuring a 1000cc side valve 'V' twin engine it was first used at Brooklands in 1922 and nicknamed 'Spit and Polish' due to it's immaculate appearance. It was at this event that George Brough won the 5 lap expert's race, his first win. Later that day George crashed due to a burst front tyre and promised his family on leaving hospital that he would not race again. Afterwards he argued that sprinting and hill climbing was not racing and the damaged bike was rebuilt as a sprint machine using special forks and a prototype engine specially developed at the JAP factory.

The machine was re-named 'Old Bill' by George himself after Bruce Barnsfather's cartoon character from World War One. The bike with George in the saddle won 51 sprint events in 1922/3 and in the 52nd at Clipstone in Nottinghamshire both bike and rider crossed the finish line making fastest time of the day but they were not together. Due to yet another burst tyre at more than 90mph George again crashed and suffered severe injuries which kept him in hospital for many weeks. During this time 'Old Bill' was repaired, converted to road trim and sold to help pay the wages whilst George recovered.

The bike was used on the road by one or two owners until World War Two when it suffered some damage again in London during the Blitz. A cast iron bath fell through the ceiling where it was stored and damaged the petrol tank. It was then taken to a safer place for storage until being offered in the late fifties to "Titch" Allen, founder of the VMCC and a well known Brough enthusiast.

With the help of George Brough and the original engineer Ike Webb, the bike was restored to its 1923 condition. It was running well again by 1959 when at a historic and touching occasion George Brough rode it on the actual piece of road where they had parted company 36 years before, this time he crossed the finishing line still on the bike. Since then 'Titch demonstrated the bike at the Brighton Speed Trial and Brooklands before passing it on to his son Roger in 1988.

Roger, chairman of the racing section of the VMCC and a very accomplished vintage bike racer, fitted a sidecar to 'Old Bill' for the occasional sprint event with his wife Sue as the passenger. Back again as a solo Roger raced the bike in the classic Isle of Man TT races in 1991. This was the first time a Brough motorcycle had competed in the Isle of Man. Sadly Roger lost his life whilst competing in the Isle of Man on a Triumph machine in 1992 and his collection including 'Old Bill' passed on to his wife. The motorcycle has been on display since that time in the Nottingham Industrial Museum.

It was offered with correspondence from Titch Allen in which he describes his discovery of "Old Bill" and the subsequent rebuild, outlining the assistance received by Ike Webb. A Swansea V5 and a buff log book recording Harold Garland, the owner prior to Titch Allen, as the keeper in 1934 together with a set of mudguards are supplied with this incredibly historic motorcycle.

Text and images courtesy H&H Classic Auctions