Few classic motorcycles command the same respect and reverence as automotive classics such as Ferraris and Duesenbergs. But Brough Superiors and Vincent V-twins are the exceptions; both can command six-figure investment levels.
The best of each – Lawrence of Arabia’s last Brough Superior SS 100, on which he was killed in 1935, and Rollie Free’s 1948 Vincent 150 mph Bonneville record breaker – are million dollar machines, and some of their glory is reflected onto other models in the same marques.
One such Brough Superior comes up for sale at Auctions America’s Las Vegas Premiere Motorcycle Auction in January 12-14, as lot 189. This SS 100 is from the collection of Michael FitzSimons and is estimated to bring $275,000-$295,000.
This 1928 SS 100 was bought new by Dunlop Tires to celebrate its 40th anniversary, and also to test the latest tire designs. The bike’s specification is considered among the most desirable, as it’s the last of the JAP SS 100s, built with the short-stroke 980cc J. A. Prestwich OHV, V-twin, capable of 74 bhp and over 100 miles an hour.
In fact T.E. Lawrence is reported to have out-run a Bristol Fighter (top speed 125 mph) across Salisbury Plain on one of the seven SS 100s that he owned and rode altogether over 300,000 miles.
?Your present machines are as fast and reliable as express trains and the greatest fun in the world to drive – and I say that after 20 years experience of cycles and cars,? he wrote to George Brough in 1926.
The ?Dunlop? Brough SS 100 was set up as a sidecar combination and used for tire testing and publicity. A contributor to the book The Dunlop Story furnished a wonderful 1928 photo of it at the Dunlop works. Longtime Brough Superior machine registrar Mike Leatherdale has verified the Dunlop provenance.
WWII demanded six years of tough duty, and the Brough emerged after the war without a sidecar. It received a Brough replacement frame, as the war had
been too stressful for the original, #956.
This SS100 retained the replacement frame until 2001, when it received a ground-up restoration and complete mechanical rebuild with a 1928 Brough works frame. The original Dunlop JAP engine KTORC71727ST was completely rebuilt, and fitted to Brough works frame #764, which was modified to accept it. This enabled the replacement frame to be reunited with its original engine.
Just recently, the SS100’s engine was disassembled and found to be in excellent condition. With proper re-commissioning the machine will be ready for the road, and all finishes appear quite fresh. Brough Superior works record cards are available to provide continuous histories of 1928 Dunlop JAP engine KTORC71727ST and 1928 Brough works frame 764.
The machine is period authentic, having dual Lucas headlamps, Bonniksen speedometer, Bowden controls, Amal twin-float carburetor and Lucas magneto-dynamo. All plated surfaces are nickel, and a new nickel-plated petrol tank was fabricated to the original style.
Included with the machine are a US title, Brough tool kit, period Dunlop signs, Dunlop tire pumps, Dunlop Story book (with accompanying period photograph), ‘Dunlop Road Guide’ UK, original Amal carburetor manual, original Lucas lighting manual, and medal commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Dunlop Rubber Company. All that’s required is to have a specialist recommission the JAP total-loss oiling system and Lucas magneto.
What makes this bike rare and special is that it’s a restored Brough Superior, with thorough provenance. How often do you come across a 1928 Brough Superior SS-100 with fascinating history, period manuals, tools and accessories?
Auction dates & times:
Thursday, January 12, 2012, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Friday, January 13, 2012, 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Saturday, January 14, 2012, 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Auctions America Las Vegas Premiere Motorcycle Auction
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89103, 866-746-7671