Brough Superior

Brough Superior

Brough Superior (pr. bruff su-peer-ee-or) motorcycles and motor cars were made by George Brough in his Brough Superior works on Haydn Road in Nottingham, England from 1919 to 1940. They were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles" by H. D. Teague of The Motorcycle newspaper. Approximately 3048 of 19 models were made in 21 years of production. In 2004, around 1000 still exist. T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") owned seven bikes and died from injuries sustained while crashing one. George Bernard Shaw was another among many celebrities that were enthusiastic about Brough products.

George Brough was a racer, designer, and showman. All Brough Superior motorcycles were high performance and superior quality. Most were custom built to the customers needs, and rarely were any two of the same configuration. Each motorcycle was assembled twice. The first assembly was for fitting of all components, then the motorcycle was disassembled and all parts were painted or plated as needed, then the finished parts were assembled a final time. Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was personally certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph or more prior to delivery. The SS80 model was ridden at 80 mph or more before delivery. If any motorcycle didn't meet specification, it returned to the shop for rework until it performed properly. The fit and finish was comparable to a Rolls-Royce automobile, and were among the most expensive motorcycles.

Brough Superior motorcycles have always been rare and expensive. Because of their connection with Lawrence of Arabia, their high quality of fit and finish, and their reputation for reliability and race victories, they are among the most collectible motorised vehicles. In 2007, prices ranged from $40,000 to more than $3,000,000 USD.

Lawrence of Arabia on a Brough Superior he called "George V". Lawrence owned eight Brough's in all, listed below, with notes in brackets:
* 1922 - "Boa" (the name was short for Boanerges)
* 1923 - "George I" (the cost of £150 was more than the price of a house at the time)
* 1924 - "George II"
* 1925 - "George III"
* 1926 - "George IV"
* 1927 - "George V" (RK 4907; see photo)
* 1929 - "George VI" (UL 656)
* 1932 - "George VII" (GW 2275) (the bike he died on)
* Undelivered - "George VIII" (still being built when Lawrence died).fn|6

Brough Superior motorcycles

Model history

Four models are the most common:
* SS100 (Super Sports) - Powered by J.A.P. (J. A. Prestwich of Tottenham) or Matchless 1000 cc overhead valve v-twin engines. Approximately 383 were manufactured from 1924 to 1940.
* SS80 (Super Sports) - Powered by J.A.P. or Matchless 1000 cc sidevalve v-twin engines. Approximately 1086 were manufactured from 1922 to 1940.
* SS680 O.H.V. (Super Sports) - Powered by J.A.P. 680 cc overhead valve v-twin. Approximately 547 were manufactured from 1926 to 1936.
* 11.50 - Powered by J.A.P 1000 cc sidevalve v-twin engines. These were primarily designed for sidecar and police use. Approximately 308 were manufactured from 1933 to 1940.

George Brough was known for his dedication to his vehicles and customers. He, and later Albert Wallis, continued to service Brough Superiors after production ceased. Parts were made until 1969 but production of bikes never resumed after WW II.

Production figures

To this list may be added thirteen motorcycles without a date on their build card. Many records are incomplete for the first few years of production and for some of the low production models. The estimated total production was 3,048 vehicles.

Racing history (partial)

Riders of Brough Superiors have won many races - TT, sprints (drag racing), hillclimbs, and top speed. Victories include:
* 1922, George Brough, First Sidevalve Motorcycle to lap Brooklands at 100mph.
* 1927, June 11 - R. E. Thomas, 2 1/2 Miles Sprint for Unlimited Capacity Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.fn|1
* 1927, June 11 - R. E. Thomas, 10 Miles for Unlimited Solo machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.fn|1
* 1927, September 11 - R. E. Thomas, 2 1/2 Miles Sprint for Unlimited Capacity Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.fn|1
* 1927, September 11 - R. E. Thomas, 10 Miles Unlimited Race for Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.fn|1
* 1927, September 11 - R. E. Thomas, 25 Miles Race for Unlimited Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.fn|1
* 1927, September 11 - R. E. Thomas, 50 Miles Race for Unlimited Solo Machines, Cefn Sidan Speed Trials. 1st place.fn|1
* 1928 - George Brough, one mile sprint, Pendine. 1st place.fn|1
* 1928 - R. E. Thomas, one mile spring, Pendine. 2nd place.fn|1
* 1931 - J.H. Carr, 50 Miles Any Power Solo, Pendine. 1st place.fn|1
* 1931 - J.H. Carr, 100 Miles Any Power Solo, Pendine. 1st place.fn|1
* 1935 - Eric Fernihough, Brooklands motor-cycle lap record for all classes, 123.58 mph.fn|2
* 1936 - Eric Fernihough, Solo world record for the mile. 163.82 mph.fn|2
* 1937 - Eric Fernihough, Solo world record for the flying kilometre. 169.8 mph.fn|2
* 1937 - Eric Fernihough, Side car world record for the flying kilometre. 137 mph.fn|2

Brough Superior carsfn|5

George Brough made approximately 85 cars named Brough Superior. Built between 1935 and 1939, they were powered by Hudson engines and had Hudson chassis. Three models were made, but only two reached production.Clarifyme|date=March 2008 Early cars did not carry Brough Superior badges as Brough thought the cars sufficiently distinctive in themselves.

The first car was the 4 litre made from 1935 to 1936 using a 114 bhp, 4168 cc side valve, straight 8 engine. Performance was remarkable for the time with a top speed of 90 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 10 seconds. The drop head coachwork was by Atcherley of Birmingham.

Hudson stopped supplying the 8 cylinder engine in 1936, and subsequent cars had a 107 bhp, 3455 cc straight 6, still with side valves and called the 3.5 litre. A Centric supercharged version was also listed with a claimed output of 140 bhp. The chassis was 4 inches shorter than the 4 litre at 116 inches. Saloon bodies were available but most were open cars. Approximately 80 were made between 1936 and 1939.

The final car, the XII made in 1938, used a Lincoln-Zephyr V12 engine of 4387 cc and Brough's own design of chassis with Girling brakes and Ford axles. Only one was made with a saloon body built by Charlesworth. A large car with an overall length of 219 inches and width of 71 inches, it still survives.

Journalist Bill Boddyfn|7 tested an early model Brough Superior Saloon in 1936 for Motor Sport magazine. Noting the car had a reserve fuel tank, he declined to fill up before the journey. Upon running out of petrol, he could not find the switch to activate the reserve. After begging petrol from a passing lorry Boddy then encountered a motorcyclist who had crashed, and offered to assist. When asked, he told Boddy that his bike was a Brough Superior and asked what was 'the nice car in which you are giving me a lift'. When told it was a Brough Superior the motorcyclist was silent for the rest of the journey. Boddy presumed this was incredulity that a famed motorcycle maker could also manufacture cars, and supposed that the motorcyclist presumed he was concussed.

Brough Superior in fiction

*In Kino's Journey the talking bike Hermes is modeled after a BS SS 100.
*The Brough Superior was also shown in chapter 48 of the Oh My Goddess! manga series. This story was adapted into episode 23 of the second Ah! My Goddess TV Series


* The original Brough Motorcycles were made by William E. Brough (George Brough's father) in England from 1908 to 1926.
* Many Brough Superiors had names:
** Spit and Polish (owned and raced by George Brough)
** Old Bill (owned and raced by George Brough)
** BOA George: 7 Brough Superiors owned and ridden by T. E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia. T. E. Lawrence numbered his Brough Superior motorcycles after their maker: George I, George II, George III, George IV, George V, George VI, and George VII. They all had the name BOA, short for Boanerges - god of thunder. Lawrence was killed in an accident when riding George VII while awaiting delivery of George VIII.
*Brough Superior was the first motorcycle to use a side stand. ("Brough engineer Harold “Oily” Karslake is credited with the invention of the motorcycle side stand" fn|3).
*Brough Superior was the first motorcycle that used a ride off center stand. (George Brough patented the "Rolling Stand", a ride off center standfn|3).
*The VR-041 Blowsuperior in Genesis Climber Mospeada (known to American fans as the VR-041 Saber in Robotech - The New Generation) is named in honor of this bike.
*Lovejoy Episode "Eric of Arabia" mentions the T. E. Lawrence bike.


The Broughs' surname is a form of the word "borough". See more at borough. "Superior" was a reference by George Brough to his bike's superiority over the original Brough Motorcycles manufactured by his father, William E. Brough.


*fnb|1, SandSpeedWales, downloaded April 25, 2005.
*fnb|2, OCC newsletter 1998, downloaded April 25, 2005.
*fnb|3, Harris Vincent Gallery, downloaded April 25, 2005.
*fnb|4, The Brough Superior Club, downloaded April 25, 2005.
*fnb|5 A-Z of cars of the 1930s. Michael Sedgwick and Mark Gillies. Bay View Books 1989.
*fnb|6 "T. E. Lawrence", accessed April 22, 2007.
*fnb|7 Motor Sport magazine, July 2007 issue.

External links

* [ The Brough Superior Club]
* [ Brough Superior "Official" Site]
* [ Brough Superior Images at]
* [ Photo Gallery by the BBC of Brough Superior Automobiles]
* [ 3-D image of a Brough Superior Automobile]
* [ Owners Club for Railton and Brough Superior Cars]
* [ New "Banquer Superior" motorcycles]
* [ 1936 Brough Superior SS80]
* [ Brough Superior "Golden Dream" opposed four with shaft drive]
* [ Site dedicated to one of Britain’s Greatest Heroes]
* [ 2005 to 2008 Brough Superior Motorcycles sold at auctions with prices realized]
* [ Brough Superior rally pictures]

Non-English-language links

* [ Transport Trust Japan (Picture gallery has many Brough Superiors)]
* [ Japanese Brough Superior Site]

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