George Brough and
Brough Superior Motorcycles & Cars
Organizations that support Brough Superior Motorcycles
Brough Superior Club
Brough Superior Motorcycles Ltd
2013 Reunion of Brough
Family & Brough Motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
Motorcycles, Past, Present and Future
Superior SS100 Motorcycle to be auctioned on December 15, 2015 for
at least $600,000 !
History of George Brough (from Wikipedia):
George Brough, (21 April 1890-1969), was
a motorcycle racer, world record holding motorcycle and automobile manufacturer,
and showman. He was known for his powerful and expensive Brough Superior
motorcycles which were the first superbikes. George died in 1969 but his
legacy lives on in the many Brough Superior motorcycles maintained in
perfect condition by enthusiasts to this day.
George was the second son of motorcycle
pioneer William Edward Brough and was born at 10 Mandalay Street, Basford,
Nottingham on 21 April 1890. William Brough had been building motorcycles
at his factory in Nottingham since the 1890s so it was expected that George
and his brother would both join in the family business.
George wanted to develop his father's business
and make high performance motorcycles. His father was not convinced, however,
so George set up his own factory nearby in 1919 at Haydn Road in Nottingham
to produce what he called the Brough Superior range of motorcycles and
motor cars. The name Superior was suggested by a friend but his father
reputedly took it personally. George's motorcycles lived up to the claim,
however, and he brought together the best components he could find and
added distincive styling details. He also had a flair for marketing and
in 1922 rode a Brough Superior SS9-Brough Superior SS80 which he called
Spit and Polish at managing an unofficial 100 mph (160 km/h) lap.
Approximately 3,048 motorcycles of 19 different
models were made in 21 years of production. All Brough Superior motorcycles
were high performance and superior quality. Most were custom built to
specific customers requirements 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 (130 km/h) or more before delivery. If any motorcycle
didn't meet specification, it returned to the shop for rework until it
In 1928, George Brough recorded the speed
of 130.6 mph (210.2 km/h) at Arpajon, unofficially the world's fastest
speed on a solo motorcycle.
In 1929 a Brough SS100 was purchased by
Sir William Lyons who two years later applied the same name to his own
first four wheeled vehicle, much to Brough's disgruntlement at the time,
though the two later became close friends. It is fair to recall that "S"
and "S" were the first two initials of the Swallow Sidecar Company
which Lyons had co-founded back in 1923.
In 1940, World War II brought an end to
production as the factory was turned over to produce munitions. After
hostilities had ceased there were no suitable engines available so the
company was wound up.
In 2004, around 1,000 still existed, maintained
by enthusiasts in perfect working order.
Obituary of "Mr. George Brough, Famous Motorcycle Maker"
(from The Times, January 13, 1970):
Mr. George Brough, who died in Nottingham
yesterday, at the age of 79, will be remembered for the legendary Brough
Superior motor cycles which he designed and built in Nottingham.
Large, powerful, fast and beautifully finished,
the Brough was sometimes called the two-wheeled Rolls-Royce. Being practically
hand made a Brough was not cheap, its price between the two world wars
was between £150 and £200.
George Brough's father, W. E. Brough, was
also a designer and manufacturer and George once rode a Brough flat-twin,
belt-driven in a Scottish Six-Day trial on a single gear.
"Ixion", the notable motorcycling
journalist, recalls in his Motor Cycle Cavalcade, two memorable Brough
ventures, a motor cycle incorporating an 800 c.c. Austin water-cooled
engine and a "Golden Dream" with an embryo transverse four cylinder
Perhaps the most famous machine to come
out of the Brough stable was the S.S. 100, which was powered by a 1,000
c.c. overhead valve J.A.P. vee-twin engine, super-tuned. Prospective buyers
who called at the Brough factory could see it touch 100 m.p.h., on the
road "possibly with the demonstrator riding with hands off".
In 1937 one 1,000 c.c. model established a world speed record at nearly
"T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia")
was a passionate admirer of the make and found immense satisfaction and
consolation in riding the various Broughs he owned, as can be gathered
from his correspondence with George Brough and others--as interesting
to motor-cycle enthusiasts as to those whose interest in Lawrence is historical
or literary--which is to be found in his published Letters. He records
many remarkable fast rides--and some crashes--and writing to E.M. Forster
in 1925 mentions that some anonymous person or persons (it was, in fact,
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw) that bought and sent him "a new and apolaustic
Brough". He was riding one of his make when he was involved in his
fatal road accident in 1935.
From 1939 to 1945, Brough's factory was
devoted to sub-contracts for Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines.
History of George Brough (edited from the Brough
Superior Club website):
By any standards, George Brough was one
of the most outstanding figures the motorcycle world has ever known.
From many points of view he was the greatest.
In a lifetime which spanned three important phases of motorcycle development,
veteran up to 1914 and (as they were known) vintage to 1930, and then
post vintage, he became a legendary figure throughout the world as founder
and leader of the exclusive cult of the Brough Superior
The [Brough Superior motorcycle was the]
"Rolls - Royce of motorcycles." The real measure of his achievement
was that by life long dedication to the cause of perfection he raised
the status of the luxury motorcycle to the point of acceptability by nobility,
aristocracy and even royalty; and the image of his own machine to equality
with the Roll-Royce car.
Brough superiors were always exclusive because so few were made: by manufacturing
standards a mere handful of perhaps 3000.
Note: The Brough
(http://www.broughsuperiorclub.com/home.htm) contains extensive information
and photographs on George Brough and his Brough Superior motorcycles.
History of the Brough Superior Motorcycle (from Wikipedia)
Brough Superior motorcycles, sidecars
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
Motor Cycle newspaper. Approximately 3,048 of 19 models were made in 21
years of production. In 2004, around 1,000 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 who 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 customer's 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 second 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 (160
km/h) or more prior to delivery. The SS80 model was ridden at 80 mph (130
km/h) or more before delivery. If any motorcycle did not meet specification,
it returned to the shop for rework until it performed properly. The fit
and finish was comparable to a Rolls-Royce car, and they were among the
most expensive motorcycles.
Brough Superior motorcycles have always
been rare and expensive. Prices for these motorcycles ranged from £130
to £180 in the 1920s and 1930s. Since the average weekly salary
during 1920s and 1930s was £3 per week, only the wealthy were able
to afford them. 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.
Brough Motorcycles and Rolls Royce (The Guardian, May 25,
After the 1914-1918 war, George Brough
designed his motor-cycle to beat all others
. He called the machine
the Brough Superior, and a journalist soon called it "the Rolls-Royce
of Motor-cycles". When Brough mentioned this in an advertisement,
Rolls-=Royce queried it, but after viewing his factory agreed to his use
of the name. This seems to have been the only time that the use and the
description "The Rolls-Royce of
" has been formally permitted.
Lawrence of Arabia and Brough Motorcycles (from Wikipedia):
Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935)--known
professionally as T.E. Lawrence--was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British
Army. Lawrence was renowned for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt
against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-1918. The extraordinary breadth and
variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe
them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as "Lawrence
of Arabia", a title popularized by the 1962 film based on his life.
Lawrence was a keen motorcyclist, and, at
different times, had owned seven Brough Superior motorcycles. His seventh
motorcycle is on display at the British Imperial War Museum. In May 1935,
at the age of 46 and two months after leaving military service, Lawrence
was fatally injured in an accident on his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle
in Dorset, England, close to his cottage, Clouds Hill, near Wareham. A
dip in the road obstructed his view of two boys on their bicycles; he
swerved to avoid them, lost control and was thrown over the handlebars.
He died six days later on 19 May 1935. The spot is marked by a small memorial
at the side of the road.
The circumstances of Lawrence's death had
far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon
Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly affected by the incident, and consequently
began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle
dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of
crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists. As a consequence
of treating Lawrence, Sir Hugh Cairns would ultimately save the lives
of many motorcyclists.
Brough Superior races at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1949:
In August 1949, George Brough went to the
Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah to support Noel Pope in his hope
to set a new world land speed record (then 173 mph) in an enclosed streamlined
Brough Superior motorcycle. They calculated the streamlined motorcycle--named
the "Silver Fish" because of its polished aluminum body shell--could
possible reach a speed of 213 mph. However, on his first timed run, Noel
Pope's motorcycle crashed after reaching 150 mph. Fortunately, Noel escaped
serious injury. The information and photos below give details about this
event and were taken from the book Brough Superior: The Complete Story,
by Peter Miller, 2010, pages 179-181:
"Noel Pope made an early return to
as soon as wartime [World War II] restrictions
A decision was taken in February 1949 to make a record
attempt at the Bonneville Salt Flats the following August . Perhaps
mindful of the effort and expense involved in bringing the record back
to Britain, The Motor Cycle announced in March the offer of a challenge
trophy and £500 to the first British rider on an all-British motorcycle
to gain the official world's maximum motorcycle speed record. At this
time the record of 173 mph, established in 1937 by Ernst Henne with his
blown BMW, was still standing. "Pope's
[Brough Superior motorcycle] engine was thought to produce 120 bhp, compared
with the 78 bhp available to Henne, but the larger frontal area of the
Brough cancelled out the power advantage unless the machine was fully
streamlined. Blackburn and General Aircraft of Brough, East Yorkshire,
designed a suitable streamlined shell. It was based upon aircraft practice
and incorporated a large tail fin. On a road-going vehicle this resulted
in the machine being overly sensitive to side winds. A third scale model
was constructed for testing in the company's wind tunnel. The drag coefficient
was determined to be 0.00026 and, with a frontal area of 8.4 square feet,
the estimated speed at the altitude of Bonneville was 213 mph. The body
was constructed in aluminum using 16-gauge sheet for the paneling; it
weighted under 70 lb. The overall length was 12 feet 1 inch, width (neglecting
the stabilizing fins) 31-1/2 inch and height from the ground to the top
of the find 5 feet 6 inches; the canopy height was 4 feet 3 inches. The
all-up weight including the 10-stone rider was 650 lb.
" ...The bike, body shell and spares
were packed into crates and dispatched to the docks. It had been intended
to ship by cargo boat, but the delays meant the containers had to accompany
Noel Pope, Teddy Comerford and George Brough as they set sail on the Queen
Elizabeth. On arrival in New York, arrangements were made for the crates
to be sent by express rail while the party drove to Salt Lake City. When
the crates failed to arrive after several days, a search revealed that
they were still in New York and the subject of a meticulous customs search;
they arrived ten days late. The Brough was quickly unpacked and test runs
carried out to adjust the carburation for the high altitude. Speeds over
150 mph were reached and Noel felt confident that he could exceed 200
mph with the streamlining fitted. However, when the remaining crates were
opened, the body shell, the three sections of which had been packed in
slings for safe travel, was little more than a crumpled mass on the floor
of the crate. Despite George's best panel-beating endeavors, the panels
remained poorly aligned, and considerable force was required to close
them in order to bolt them into place.
"After a few short trial runs, Noel
Pope decided to attempt a timed run. He was travelling at a claimed 150
mph in second gear and preparing to change up when the machine started
to veer to the right away from the black marker line and towards the 4
inch deep salt ripples at the side of the track. He adjusted his weight
to the left of the machine to counter the drift, but this had no effect,
and when he attempted to steer using the handlebars the machine went into
a lock-to-lock wobble. The machine crashed heavily. Noel was thrown clear
and was fortunate to escape serious injury as he tumbled along the salt
ahead of the bike before ending underneath it.
"The accident destroyed the shell,
but the bike appeared undamaged, and a few days later Noel was back on
the salt with the unenclosed machine for a second attempt. He had not
carried out a methodical examination of the bike as he would normally
following an accident. He was mindful of not returning empty-handed after
all the effort in getting to Bonneville, but also he must have wished
for the sake of his own confidence to be back in the saddle as soon as
possible. He made a few runs at 140-150 mph, but all was not well. The
engine appeared off tune, it jumped out of top gear and the vibration
was terrific. There was no alternative other than to abandon the attempt.
A subsequent strip-down revealed a broken frame and a damaged gearbox."
(The above quoted paragraphs about George Brough and the Brough Superior
race at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1949 comes from the book Brough
Superior: The Complete Story, by Peter Miller, 2010, pages 179-181.
Additional information about this 1949 event can be found in the book
Legends in Their Lifetime: George Brough & Lawrence of Arabia,
by C.E. 'Titch' Allen, 2010, pages 168-169.)
History of Brough Superior Cars (from Wikipedia):
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. 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 (85 kW), 4168 cc side valve, straight-8 engine.
Performance was remarkable for the time with a top speed of 90 mph (140
km/h) and a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) 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 (80 kW), 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 (100 kW). The chassis was 4 inches (100
mm) 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-Sephyr 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
(5,600 mm) and width of 71 inches (1,800 mm), it still survives.
Journalist Bill Boddy 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.
Organizations that support Brough Superior Motorcycles
Brough Superior Club
Brough Superior Motorcycles Ltd
2013 Reunion of Brough
Family & Brough Motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
Genealogy of George Brough (1890-1970)
George Brough's great-grandfather, William
Brough (1804-1880) was born prior to the marriage of his parents, Thomas
Slack and Ann Brough. This matter was known by a number of William's descendants
as some of them changed their name over time from Brough to Slack. In
fact, George Brough's grandfather, Edward Brough (1841-1893) used both
the surname "Brough" and "Slack" during his adult
life. The chart below shows the Slack and Brough ancestry of George Brough.
George's "Brough" ancestry goes back to the Broughs of North
Wingfield, Derbyshire, in the 1600's, and then to the Broughs of Leek,
Staffordshire, in the 1500's.
Genealogies of the Slacks and Broughs
of Derbyshire are listed within the "Genealogies"
section of the BFO website.
Brough Ancestors of George Brough (1890-1970)
Anthony Brough, b.abt.1561, Waterhouse, Leek, Staffordshire, England
Anthony Brough, b.abt.1590, Tittesworth, Staffordshire, England
James Brough, b.abt.1617, Tittesworth, Staffordshire, England
James Brough, b.abt.1641, North Wingfield, Derbyshire, England
Anthony Brough, chr.1694, North Wingfield, Derbyshire, England
James Brough, chr.1738, Skegby by Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England
Ann Brough, chr.1786, Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England
William Brough, chr.1804, Pinxton, Derbyshire, England
Edward Brough, b.1841, Alfreton, Derbyshire, England
William Edward Brough, b.1861, Basford, Nottinghamshire, England
George Brough, b.1890, Basford, Nottinghamshire, England; d.1970