Brough Superior motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...
A sidecar is a one-wheeled device attached to the side of a motorcycle, scooter, or bicycle, producing a three-wheeled vehicle.-History:A sidecar appeared in a cartoon by George Moore in the January 7, 1903, issue of the British newspaper Motor Cycling. Three weeks later, a provisional patent was...
s, and motor cars
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...
were made by George Brough
George Brough , , was a motorcycle racer, world record holding motorcycle and automobile manufacturer, and showman. He was known for his powerful and expensive Brough Superior motorcycles which were the first superbikes...
in his Brough Superior works on Haydn Road in Nottingham
Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...
, England, from 1919 to 1940. They were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles" by H. D. Teague of The Motor Cycle newspaper. Approximately 3,048 of 19 models were made in 21 years of production. In 2004, around 1,000 still exist. T. E. Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO , known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18...
("Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia (film)
Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company, Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the title role. It is widely...
") owned seven bikes and died from injuries sustained while crashing one. George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...
was another among many celebrities who were enthusiastic about Brough products.
George Brough was a racer, designer, and showman. All Brough Superior motorcycles were high performance and superior quality. Most were custom-built to the customer's needs, and rarely were any two of the same configuration. Each motorcycle was assembled twice. The first assembly was for fitting of all components, then the motorcycle was disassembled and all parts were painted or plated as needed, then the finished parts were assembled a second time. Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was personally certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph (160.9 km/h) or more prior to delivery. The SS80 model was ridden at 80 mph (128.7 km/h) or more before delivery. If any motorcycle did not meet specification, it returned to the shop for rework until it performed properly. The fit and finish was comparable to a Rolls-Royce car, and they were among the most expensive motorcycles.
Brough Superior motorcycles have always been rare and expensive. Prices for these motorcycles ranged from £
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...
130 to £180 in the 1920s and 1930s. Since the average weekly salary during 1920s and 1930s was £3 per week, only the wealthy were able to afford them.
Brough Superior motorcyclesEarly models include the Brough Superior Mark I Sidevalve, Mark I Overhead, Mark II Standard and Mark II Sports. Early to mid manufacture included the Overhead 500, 680 S.V. 5.15, and 750 Side Valve, but these were not popular and were dropped from production.
The following four models represent the bulk of manufacture. Most were custom built to order and many variations were made:
- The SS100Brough Superior SS100The Brough Superior SS 100 was designed and built by George Brough in Nottingham, England in 1924. Although every bike was designed to meet specific customer requirements—even the handlebars were individually shaped—sixty-nine SS100s were produced in 1925 and at £170 were advertised by Brough as...
(Super Sports), powered by J.A.P. (J. A. PrestwichJA Prestwich Industries LtdJA Prestwich Industries, was an English engineering company named after founder John Alfred Prestwich, which produced cinematographic equipment, internal combustion engines , and other examples of precision engineering.-History:J. A...
of TottenhamTottenhamTottenham is an area of the London Borough of Haringey, England, situated north north east of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:Tottenham is believed to have been named after Tota, a farmer, whose hamlet was mentioned in the Domesday Book; hence Tota's hamlet became Tottenham...
) or Matchless 1000 cc overhead valve V-twin engines. Approximately 383 were manufactured from 1924 to 1940.
- The SS80Brough Superior SS80The Brough Superior SS80 was a motorcycle designed and built by George Brough in Nottingham UK in 1924. Described by The Motor Cycle as "The Rolls-Royce of Motor Cycles", production ended with the outbreak of World War II in 1939.-Development:...
(Super Sports), powered by J.A.P. or Matchless 1,000 cc sidevalve V-twin engines. Approximately 1,086 were manufactured from 1922 to 1940.
- The SS680 O.H.V. (Super Sports), powered by J.A.P. 680 cc overhead valve V-twin. Approximately 547 were manufactured from 1926 to 1936.
- The 11.50, powered by J.A.P 1096 cc sidevalve 60° V-twin engines. These were primarily designed for sidecar and police use. Approximately 308 were manufactured from 1933 to 1940. The model name refers to the horsepower rating of the engine, 11 RAC (Royal Automobile Club), 50 bhp. In reality these engines produced 32 bhp. Tax horsepowerTax horsepowerThe tax horsepower or taxable horsepower was an early system by which taxation rates for automobiles were reckoned in some European countries, such as Britain, Belgium, Germany, France, and Italy; some US states like Illinois charged license plate purchase and renewal fees for passenger...
ratings were required by manufactures for tax purposes. RAC HP equals the piston diameter squared times the number of cylinders divided by 2.5.
Brough Superior produced many other experimental, show, and racing models. These include:
- Golden DreamBrough Superior Golden DreamThe Brough Superior Golden Dream was designed and built by George Brough in Nottingham, England, in 1938. With its distinctive gold finish, this was to be the ultimate Brough Superior but production was stopped by the outbreak of War in 1939.-Development:...
. This was powered by a vertically stacked twin crankshaft opposed four cylinder engine. George Brough called this a "flat vertical" engine. The bike was finished differently and was unique for the marque as it was painted gold and was shaft driven.
- Straight Four CombinationBrough Superior Austin FourAdvertised in the 1932 Brough Superior catalog as the Brough Superior Straight Four but commonly known as the Brough Superior Austin Four was a special British motorcycle designed and manufactured by...
. This bike was powered by a modified Austin 7 automobile engine. The transmission also came from an Austin 7. The Straight Four Combination was an inline four-cylinder motorcycle with shaft drive. It had two rear wheels that were mounted on each side of a cast drive unit. This motorcycle was made for sidecar use.
- Pendine. These were built in the early 1930s and had a guaranteed top speed of 110 mph (49.2 m/s). They were based on the SS100 model but with higher performance modifications to the engine. A well known racer, Barry Baragwanath, installed a supercharger on one, and it is now known as "Barry's Big Blown Brough". Noel Pope bought the motorcycle and in 1939 set two lap record with it at Brooklands; 106 mph (47.4 m/s) with sidecar, and 124 mph (55.4 m/s) in solo configuration, which exceeded the previous record set in 1935 by Eric Fernihough also on a Brough Superior.
George Brough was known for his dedication to his vehicles and customers. He, and later Albert Wallis, continued to service Brough Superiors after production ceased, making parts until 1969. Production of bikes never resumed after WWII.
To this list may be added thirteen motorcycles without a date on their build card. Many records are incomplete for the first few years of production and for some of the low production models. The estimated total production was 3,048 vehicles.
Racing history (partial)Riders of Brough Superiors have won many races—TT, sprints (drag racing
Drag racing is a competition in which specially prepared automobiles or motorcycles compete two at a time to be the first to cross a set finish line, from a standing start, in a straight line, over a measured distance, most commonly a ¼-mile straight track....
Hillclimbing is a branch of motorsport in which drivers compete against the clock to complete an uphill course....
, and top speed. Victories include:
- 1922, George Brough, First Sidevalve Motorcycle to lap Brooklands at 100 mph (160.9 km/h).
- 1927, 11 June: R. E. Thomas, 2½ Miles Sprint for Unlimited Capacity Solo Machines, Cefn SidanCefn SidanCefn Sidan, roughly translated from Welsh, means "Silky Back". This long sandy beach and its dunes form the outer edge of the Pembrey Burrows between Burry Port and Kidwelly, looking southwards over Carmarthen Bay in South Wales....
Speed Trials. 1st place.
- 1927, 11 June: R. E. Thomas, 10 Miles for Unlimited Solo machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.
- 1927, 11 September: R. E. Thomas, 2½ Miles Sprint for Unlimited Capacity Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.
- 1927, 11 September: R. E. Thomas, 10 Miles Unlimited Race for Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.
- 1927, 11 September: R. E. Thomas, 25 Miles Race for Unlimited Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.
- 1927, 11 September: R. E. Thomas, 50 Miles Race for Unlimited Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.
- 1928: George Brough, one mile (1.6 km) sprint, PendinePendine SandsPendine Sands is a length of beach on the shores of Carmarthen Bay on the south coast of Wales. It stretches from Gilman Point in the west to Laugharne Sands in the east. The village of Pendine is situated near the western end of Pendine Sands....
. 1st place.
- 1928: R. E. Thomas, one mile (1.6 km) sprint, Pendine. 2nd place.
- 1931: J.H. Carr, 50 Miles Any Power Solo, Pendine. 1st place.
- 1931: J.H. Carr, 100 Miles Any Power Solo, Pendine. 1st place.
- 1935: Eric Fernihough, Brooklands motor-cycle lap record for all classes, 123.58 mph (198.9 km/h).
- 1936: Eric Fernihough, Solo world record for the mile. 163.82 mph (263.6 km/h).
- 1937: Eric Fernihough, Solo world record for the flying kilometre. 169.8 mph (273.3 km/h).
- 1937: Eric Fernihough, Side car world record for the flying kilometre. 137 mph (220.5 km/h).
Brough Superior sidecarsBrough Superior also manufactured sidecars. The sidecars had coach-built bodies, and some carried a spare tire, while others offered two seats for occasional use. The fit and finish of these sidecars were of the highest standard, as were the motorcycles. These sidecars all offered good protection from the elements. Many of the earlier sidecars were built to Brough Superior specification, while later sidecar frames were manufactured in the Brough Superior factory. Later sidecars were unique in the fact that the frame of the sidecar held fuel. The sidecar frame looped over the top of the sidecar body and had a filler cap at the topmost position. Fuel was pressurized by hand pump which allowed transfer of fuel from the sidecar to the gas tank of the motorcycle. Two different bodies could be ordered for the petrol tube sidecar; cruiser or sports.
The various sidecars were offered in the yearly Brough Superior sales catalogs:
- 1921: "Sporting Sidecar" manufactured by Montgomery Sidecars to Brough Superior Specifications.
- 1922: "Sidecar" registered to the design of the manufacturer.
- 1923: "Brough Superior Sidecar" registered to the design of the manufacturer.
- 1924: "Brough Superior Sidecar", "Brough Superior Swallow Coupe", "Brough Superior Sporting", "Brough Superior Sporting Tourist".
- 1925: "Brough Superior Sporting Sidecar", "Brough Superior Touring Sidecar".
- 1926: "Brough Superior Super Sports Sidecar", and made mention of other sidecars available.
- 1927: "Brough Superior Touring Sports" was mentioned in the 1928 catalog mentions the popularity of it in 1927. No mention of sidecars were in the 1927 catalog.
- 1928: "Brough Superior Touring Sports", "Brough Superior Cruiser" are listed.
- 1929: "Brough Superior Spring Frame Cruiser" Sidecar is introduced with reference to many other sidecars available.
- 1930: "Brough Superior Spring Frame Cruiser" Sidecar, and "Brough Superior Rigid Frame Cruiser" Sidecar. Reference is also made to many other sidecars available.
- 1931: "Brough Superior Cruiser Sidecar", available in spring frame or rigid frame configuration.
- 1932: "Brough Superior Cruiser Sidecar", offered with the Brough Superior Straight 4 Combination. And another "Cruiser" sidecar shown with one of the V-twin models. The "Cruiser" is offered in spring frame or rigid frame configuration.
- 1933: "Brough Superior Cruiser Sidecar" with mention of "Any type or make of Sidecar supplied. Send for lists."
- 1934: "Brough Superior Cruiser Sidecar", "Brough Superior Occasional 2-seater Sidecar."
- 1935: "Brough Superior Cruiser Sidecar", "Brough Superior Touring Sidecar."
- 1936: "Brough Superior Touring Sidecar", "Brough Superior Cruiser Sidecar."
- 1937: "B.S Alpine Grand Sports Sidecar", available with Cruiser or Sports body, this is also known as the Brough Superior Petrol tube sidecar. The sidecar frame holds fuel and is pressurized with an air pump allowing transfer of the fuel from the sidecar to the main petrol tank of the motorcycle without stopping.
- 1938: "B.S. Alpine Grand Sports Sidecar". Cruiser or sports body available.
- 1939: "B.S." Alpine Grand Sports Sidecar. Cruiser or sports body available.
Brough Superior cars
George Brough made approximately 85 cars named Brough Superior. Built between 1935 and 1939, they were powered by Hudson
Hudson Motor Car Company
The Hudson Motor Car Company made Hudson and other brand automobiles in Detroit, Michigan, from 1909 to 1954. In 1954, Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation to form American Motors. The Hudson name was continued through the 1957 model year, after which it was dropped.- Company strategy...
engines and had Hudson chassis. Three models were made, but only two reached production. Early cars did not carry Brough Superior badges as Brough thought the cars sufficiently distinctive in themselves.
The first car was the 4 litre made from 1935 to 1936 using a 114 bhp, 4,168 cc side valve, straight-eight engine. Performance was remarkable for the time with a top speed of 90 mph (144.8 km/h) and a 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) time of 10 seconds. The drop head coachwork was by Atcherley of Birmingham.
Hudson stopped supplying the eight-cylinder engine in 1936, and subsequent cars had a 107 bhp, 3,455 cc straight-six, still with side valves and called the 3.5 litre. A Centric supercharged version was also listed with a claimed output of 140 bhp. The chassis was 4 inches (101.6 mm) shorter than the 4 litre at 116 inches. Saloon bodies were available but most were open cars. Approximately 80 were made between 1936 and 1939.
The final car, the XII made in 1938, used a Lincoln-Zephyr V12 engine
Lincoln-Zephyr V12 engine
Ford Motor Company's Lincoln division produced two other L-head V12 engines from 1932, but required a more compact unit for their new streamlined Lincoln-Zephyr line. As Ford had just introduced their Flathead V8, this was the logical starting point for a new Lincoln V12 line...
of 4,387 cc and Brough's own design of chassis with Girling brakes and Ford axles. Only one was made with a saloon body built by Charlesworth. A large car with an overall length of 219 inches (5,562.6 mm) and width of 71 inches (1,803.4 mm), it still survives.
Journalist Bill Boddy
William "Bill" Boddy, MBE was a British journalist who was the editor of Motor Sport from 1936 to 1991. He contributed regularly to Motor Sport magazine, continuing a career that lasted eighty-one years.-Career:...
tested an early model Brough Superior Saloon in 1936 for Motor Sport
Motor Sport (magazine)
Motor Sport was founded in the UK in 1924 as the Brooklands Gazette, the first edition appearing in July of that year. In August 1925 the title was changed to the all-encompassing "Motor Sport". For most of its history , the editor of the magazine was Bill Boddy.The monthly magazine underwent a...
magazine. Noting the car had a reserve fuel tank, he declined to fill up before the journey. Upon running out of petrol, he could not find the switch to activate the reserve. After begging petrol from a passing lorry Boddy then encountered a motorcyclist who had crashed, and offered to assist. When asked, he told Boddy that his bike was a Brough Superior and asked what was 'the nice car in which you are giving me a lift'. When told it was a Brough Superior the motorcyclist was silent for the rest of the journey. Boddy presumed this was incredulity that a famed motorcycle maker could also manufacture cars, and supposed that the motorcyclist presumed he was concussed.
EtymologyThe Brough surname is a form of the word borough. See more at borough
A borough is an administrative division in various countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing township although, in practice, official use of the term varies widely....
. "Superior" was a reference by George Brough to his bike's superiority over all other motorcycles, including, the original Brough Motorcycles
Brough Motorcycles were made by William E. Brough in Nottingham, England, from 1908 to 1926.Brough motorcycles were flat-tanked motorcycles that used a variety of engines...
manufactured by his father, William E. Brough.