8 Long-Lost Brough Motorcycles Found Rotting Are Up for Sale
What do you get the motorcycle lover who thinks he’s got everything? Something he didn’t know existed. Like, say, one of these eight long-lost Brough Superior motorcycles that spent five decades tucked away in a Cornwall village.
Even now, Brough Superiors impress. George Brough built big, beautiful, machines capable of three-figure speeds in an era when going that fast on a public road was considered evidence of insanity. One set the 1937 speed record of 170 mph.
The brand, which called itself “the Rolls-royce of motorcycles”, built a fanatical following. Customers included George Bernard Shaw and Orson Welles. T.E. Lawrence owned eight and died on one. Jay Leno owns six, and here’s your chance to catch up with him. Bonhams will sell the recently discovered bikes at auction in April.
Brough (pronounced “bruff”) built about 3,000 motorcycles between 1919 and 1940. Just one-third of them are still around, so the chance discovery of eight motorcycles many had thought lost to time is exciting news. “This is one of the greatest motorcycle discoveries of recent times,” says Ben Walker, head of Bonhams’ motorcycle department. “Very few people knew that they still existed, many believing them to be an urban myth. There was a theory that they still existed somewhere in the West Country, but few knew where, until now.”
These eight bikes once belonged to a Mr. Frank Vague, a member of the Brough Superior Club who bought most of them in the ’60s. As you can tell from the photos, they’ve spent the past half century languishing in dust, dirt, and detritus. But when you’re talking about rare motorcycles, rust, chipped paint, and even missing parts don’t always diminish their value. To the contrary—it may augment it. “There is a strong market for unrestored, highly original motorcycles,” Walker says.
Brough built seven of these bikes built between 1936 and 1939; the eighth is from 1926. The most valuable of the collection is the 1938 750-cc BS4, expected to fetch between $121,000 and $182,000 at auction. The cheapest are the two 982-cc SS80 Project bikes, built in 1936 and 1937, both estimated at $9,000 to $12,000. You’ve got four months to save up the cash.
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