Year of manufacture1937
Engine numberBS/X2 1016
The Olympia Motorcycle Show
1937 Brough Superior 990cc SS100
Registration no. FFC 474
Frame no. M1 1700
Engine no. BS/X2 1016
Matching frame, and engine numbers
Only three owners from new
Rebuilt by the factory in 1957
Legendary superbike of motorcycling's between-the-wars 'Golden Age', Brough Superior 'The Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles' - was synonymous with high performance, engineering excellence and quality of finish. That such a formidable reputation was forged by a motorcycle constructed almost entirely from bought-in components says much for the publicity skills of George Brough. But if ever a machine was more than the sum of its parts, it was the Brough Superior.
W E Brough's machines had been innovative and well engineered, and his son's continued the family tradition but with an added ingredient - style. The very first Brough Superior MkI of 1919 featured a saddle tank - an innovation not adopted by the rest of the British industry until 1928 - and the latter's broad-nosed, wedge-profiled outline would be a hallmark of the Nottingham-built machines from then on. Always the perfectionist, Brough bought only the best available components for his bikes, reasoning that if the product was right, a lofty price tag would be no handicap. And in the 'Roaring Twenties' there were sufficient wealthy connoisseurs around to prove him right.
Introduced in 1922, the JAP-powered SS80 achieved instant fame when a racing version ridden by George became the first sidevalve-engined machine to lap Brooklands at over 100mph. With the new SS80's performance threatening to put the overhead-valve MkI in the shade, it was decided to completely redesign the latter. The result was the legendary SS100. First shown to the public in 1924, the SS100 employed an entirely new overhead-valve 980cc JAP v-twin engine. A frame of duplex cradle type was devised for the newcomer, which soon after its launch became available with the distinctive, Harley-Davidson-influenced, Castle front fork patented by George Brough and Harold 'Oily' Karslake. And just in case prospective customers had any doubts about the SS100's performance, each machine came with a written guarantee that it had been timed at over 100mph for a quarter of a mile - a staggering achievement at a time when very few road vehicles of any sort were capable of reaching three-figure speeds.
With this level of performance available in road trim, it was only to be expected that the SS100 would make an impact on the race track, particularly the ultra-fast Brooklands oval, and the exploits of Brough Superior riders - among them Le Vack, Temple, Baragwanath, Fernihough and Pope - did much to burnish the marque's image. When Brooklands closed forever at the outbreak of WW2, Noel Pope's Brough Superior held both the sidecar and solo lap records, the latter at an average speed of 124.51mph.
Brough had entered the 1930s with an entirely JAP-powered range, and then in 1936 the SS100 was redesigned with an engine built by Associated Motor Cycles, in which form it continued until production ceased in 1939.
This Matchless-engined SS100 was displayed on the Brough stand at the 1936 Motorcycle Show at Olympia. The accompanying copy Works Record Card confirms that 'M1 1700' was a 'Show Model' supplied to Laytons of Oxford on 23rd November 1936, following its stint at the show. Its was not registered by Laytons, as a motorcycle and sidecar combination, until 3rd September 1937 having presumably been used as a demonstrator or kept on display during the intervening period.
According to the BSC, the Brough was sold new to one C E Haswell, this being Charles Edward Haswell of Whaley Bridge, Stockport who is the sole owner listed in the old-style logbook on file, which was issued in March 1957. 'FFC 474' was still attached to a sidecar at that time. There is also correspondence and various invoices from George Brough Ltd and Associated Motor Cycles on file dating from Mr Haswell's period of ownership, including some relating to an overhaul at the factory in 1957 costing £300, which was considerably more than the Brough was worth at that time. The machine is currently fitted with the gearbox from an SS80 while the fuel tank is from a 1937 SS100.
When Mr Haswell died, 'FFC 474' was purchased from his family by the late Brian Verrall and shortly thereafter was sold to its second private owner, Mike Smith of Alton Hampshire. Mr Smith covered over 70,000 miles on the Brough over the course of the next 20-or-so years before selling it to the current (third) owner in November 2012. The following year the machine underwent extensive cosmetic and mechanical refurbishment, the work being undertaken by renowned marque specialist Sam Lovegrove (see bill for £4,331 on file). Since the work's completion, the Brough has been ridden extensively by the owner, covering some 2-3,000 miles over the last couple of years, including touring trips around Wales. Additional accompanying documentation consists of a quantity of expired MoT certificates, SORN paperwork and old/current V5/V5C registration documents.