1938 Brough Superior SS80
Year of manufacture1938
Engine numberBS/X 4636
From the estate of the late Frank Vague
1938 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Motorcycle Combination
Registration no. ETO 336
Frame no. M8/1911
Engine no. BS/X 4636
Single ownership for circa 50 years
Matching frame and engine numbers
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. Not an unwieldy beast intended primarily for sidecar duties like the majority of its v-twin-engined contemporaries, the Brough Superior was, in its maker's own words, 'a type of machine designed from the experienced solo rider's point of view.' To prove the point, Brough lost no time in demonstrating his machine's capabilities in the most attention-grabbing way possible - by racing at Brooklands. 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 rigid-frame example is one of 460 Matchless-engined SS80s built, of which some 300 or so survive. A matching-numbers machine (frame and engine), it was manufactured as a motorcycle combination complete with petrol-tube AGS chassis number '163', which carried a Cruiser body, and was collected from the factory by Hooley's Garage, Nottingham. The Brough was supplied with a foot-operated gear change, though the gearbox it has now is not the original and neither the fuel nor oil tank matches the Works Record Card. The sidecar body currently fitted is home made, while the headlight is of the type used by Brough up to 1936.
'ETO 336' was last taxed in 1965 and is believed to have come into Frank Vague's possession at around that time. Offered for restoration, the Brough comes with a copy of its Works Record Card.