1938 Brough Superior SS80
Year of manufacture1938
Engine numberBS/X 4752
From the estate of the late Frank Vague
1938 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Special Project
Registration no. CBK 276
Frame no. M8/2072
Engine no. BS/X 4752
Single ownership for circa 50 years
Offered for restoration
While equalling a Rolls-Royce for quality of construction and finish, in spirit the Brough Superior was more akin to the sporting Bentley. 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.
Brough entered the 1930s with an entirely JAP-powered range and then, after a brief absence, the SS80 reappeared in 1935 as the SS80 Special, this time with an engine built by Associated Motor Cycles. Similar to that of the Matchless Model X, the 982cc sidevalve v-twin engine incorporated Brough's preferred 'knife-and-fork' big-end bearing arrangement instead of the side-by-side connecting rods of the Matchless. The SS80 continued to use the AMC engine until production ceased in 1939.
In single ownership for over 45 years, this sprung-frame example is one of 460 Matchless-engined SS80s built, of which some 300 or so survive. A matching-numbers machine (registration, frame, engine, gearbox), it was supplied new on 12th January 1939 to Brough agent E W Burnett & Sons of Southsea, Hampshire. Burnett & Sons took several SS80s with the rear suspension and Druid forks, an unusual combination. The company ceased to exist around 20 years ago, but fortunately some of their records were saved. Thus it is known that this Brough was sold on 18th September 1939, a mere fortnight or so after the declaration of war, to its first private owner, a Mr Wilfred Vick, for £109 15s. After the war's end, on the 22nd December 1945, the SS80 was sold to Mr Rubin Sowerby, based at HMS Dolphin, Gosport, for £175 which, if nothing else, demonstrates that steep increases in Brough prices are nothing new!
There is then a gap in the historical record until (it is assumed) the late 1950s when 'CBK 276' was owned by Mr M J Holben of Heath and Reach, Bedfordshire (an early Brough Superior Club member) who fitted a Brough AGS petrol tube sidecar. The machine was last taxed (as a motorcycle and sidecar) in 1959, and by 1964 had passed into the ownership of Frank Vague. Offered for restoration, the Brough comes with a copy of its Works Record Card.