1931 Brough Superior
Steve McQueen, Los Angeles, California (acquired in the early 1970s)
Kenneth Howard (Von Dutch), Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 1980)
M.F. Egan, Ventura, California (acquired from the above in 1983)
Stephen Craig, Lawrence, Kansas (acquired from the above in 2007)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2011)
In period, the Brough Superior was the most innovative and extraordinary motorcycle one could own. Appropriately coined “the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles,” meticulous attention to construction meant low production and exceptional quality. Each Brough was assembled twice, once to assure proper fit, and a second time to ensure the components had been suitably finished. Each bike was then tested; the SS80 ran at 80 mph prior to delivery at a time when England’s national speed limit was 20 mph. George Brough scored 50 consecutive racing wins and many world records on an SS80, and George Bernard Shaw and T.E. Lawrence were well-known enthusiasts.
Per the Brough Superior Machine Registrar, this example was completed in June 1931, fitted with a cruiser sidecar and supplied to dealer Godfreys Ltd. of London. In the early 1970s, it was purchased by Steve McQueen and would remain his only Brough Superior. Although it was a cornerstone of his motorcycle collection, McQueen graciously loaned the Brough to his friend, Kenneth Howard (aka Von Dutch), an acclaimed fabricator and painter, who had taken an interest in it. Von Dutch then loaned the bike to mutual friend Jimmy Brucker, for his MovieWorld Cars of the Stars museum in Southern California. Placed in the museum’s foyer, it was accompanied by a sign by Von Dutch that read, “Owned by Steve McQueen who loaned it to Von Dutch who loaned it to MovieWorld.”
McQueen and Von Dutch then agreed that upon either party’s death, the Brough would be the property of the survivor, so when McQueen passed away in 1980, Von Dutch became its owner. In 1983, Von Dutch presented the Brough Superior to friend and Brough enthusiast, M.F. Egan, who kept it for 24 years. In 2007, Stephen Craig purchased it from him and commissioned AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee Mike Parti to service it. Parti brought the unrestored Brough back to running condition.
The current owner purchased the Brough in 201 1, employing marque authority Victor Olson of Putney, Vermont, to get it running again, which he did with relative ease. Several years later, the consignor decided the SS80 deserved a thorough restoration, so Mr. Olson disassembled and beautifully restored it. Due to the great condition of the engine’s bottom end, he left it original. Completed in 2015, the Brough was prepared for static storage and has not been run after restoration. Today, the Brough is accompanied by letters of authenticity from Steve McQueen’s son Chad as well as the Von Dutch sign. Its gleaming gas tank and “cruciform” exhaust tips are spectacular to admire, and this is a singular opportunity to acquire an extraordinary Brough Superior – certainly one of the very best of a rare breed.