London

31 October 2012

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Lot 130

1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sports

  • Frame no. 820A
  • Engine no. KTOR/49351

Sold for £280,800


8/45 hp, 980 cc OHV V-twin engine, Binks two jet twin float sports carburettor, three-speed counter shaft hand-change gearbox, single centre spring multi plate clutch, Harley-Davidson bottom link front forks, rigid frame, and cable operated front and rod operated rear brakes. Wheelbase: 59 in.



• Fully matching-numbers supported by a Works Record Card

• Known ownership history; listed in the Club Register since its inception in 1964

• Fully documented restoration by marque specialists from 2006–2010



Few, if any, motorcycles can rival the legendary status accorded to Brough Superior. Produced in limited numbers between 1919 and 1940, there was no other motorcycle that could compare with the Brough’s combination of quality, performance, and aesthetic appeal. George Brough was not only an accomplished rider, talented engineer, and designer, but also an astute marketer who, with the agreement of Rolls Royce, was able to describe his machines as “the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles”. Given the performance of the bikes, Brough could have been more aptly associated with Bugatti or Alfa Romeo!



Through his own competition experience and feedback from the greatest riders of the period, including LeVack, Baragwanath, Needham, Storey, Thomas, and Karslake, George Brough was able to create a machine that satisfied the most experienced rider, and the Brough Superior represented the pinnacle of motorcycle technology from that era. Following the success of the 1923 and 1924 SS80 models in competition and production sales, the new SS100 Super Sports model was announced in late-1924, which established their position as the world’s fastest production motorcycle. The SS100 was claimed to be an exact replica of LeVack’s racer, which obtained the world’s fastest solo and sidecar speed records in 1924.



Each SS100 was sold with a guarantee that it had exceeded 100 mph for a quarter-mile on test, and with a frame designed by GWT Hartwell, the SS100 was fitted with a four-cam J.A.P ‘KTOR’ racing engine offering 50% more horsepower than the previous SS80 model. It was fitted with aluminium-finned exhaust manifolds, the pipes being swept to each side, terminating in high-level Carbjector silencers. Front forks were Harley-Davidson under license; Hubs were five-inch Webb fronts and eight-inch Enfield rears, both fitted with aluminium cooling fins. Damping was by Bentley, and Draper Scissor dampers were fitted to the front forks.



In September 1925, a completely redesigned SS100 was announced, and it was to be called the Alpine Grand Sports. This had improved handling via a lower centre of gravity and was in full touring trim. The petrol tank was of increased capacity, and it was redesigned for petrol only, with oil in a separate tank. A toe brake replaced the earlier heel brake, and the footrests were re-designed and strengthened. The forks were Harley, later changed to Castle’s, and the engine was an 8 horsepower J.A.P Special, a 980-cubic centimetre OHV ‘KTOR’ unit to George Brough’s own specification. Brooks pannier bags were fitted to the rear.



The frame numbering sequence was now changed to a new 800 Series, with suffix ‘A’ added to signify an Alpine Grand Sports model. The 1926 catalogue shows only four models, with the ‘AGS’ being the most expensive of the range at £170. The prototype AGS ridden by George Brough in the 1925 Alpine Trial was given the frame number 801A. It is also interesting to note that frame 808A was purchased in October 1925 by Col. T. E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, as his fifth Brough. It was this SS100 that was extensively photographed at Cranwell with Lawrence riding it and is the bike with which he famously raced a Bristol Fighter with!



Like the Lawrence Brough, 820A is a 1926 SS100 AGS also manufactured in late-1925 and was dispatched on 21st January 1926 to Frank Hallam, the Birmingham Brough Superior agent. The Works Record Card confirms the following: frame number 820A (RH) (A referring to Alpine Grand Sports; RH referring to taper roller bearing head) and engine number KTOR/T 49351. A letter included in the history file from October 1939 to then owner TS Brown states, “Your engine numbered KTOR/T 49351 is an 8/45 HP OHV racing model which left the works in November 1925 and is therefore a 1926 Model”. The works record also indicates that 820A was supplied with carrier and bags and a Karslake side stand. It was dispatched by Midland railway 21st January 1926 to Frank Hallam and subsequently registered in Birmingham on 22nd August 1926 as ‘OP 813’.



The next recorded owner on the surviving continuation registration document is Thomas Sidney Brown, who is known to have owned OP 813 since at least 1939, from the surviving J.A.P Letter. Mr Brown sold the bike to Arnie Clapham, of Yorkshire, in 1962, who neither used nor registered the machine in his name. He did, however, record possession of OP 813 in the first issue of the Brough Superior Register in August 1964. The vendor purchased the bike from Mr Clapham in 1976, together with an original Brough Superior Instruction book, a JAP reference book, and the aforementioned letter from JAP in 1939.



OP 813 was sold in 1979 to a Richard Gulvin, of the Brough Superior Club, who neither used nor registered the machine in his name. The vendor then re-acquired the bike in 2005 and undertook a painstaking restoration beginning in 2006 and ending in 2010. The KTOR engine was rebuilt to its correct specification, and the original cylinder heads, which had been converted to twin plug, were rebuilt to correct single plug specification. Using the rebuilt engine, OP 813 was completely restored from 2009–2010 by a noted Brough Superior specialist. During the restoration, a correct and exceedingly rare original and early five-inch Webb front hub was sourced after the original had been replaced by a larger eight-inch Enfield front brake in a bid to improve the machines stopping power.



During its restoration, OP 813 was exhibited at the Brough Superior Golden Jubilee in August 2008, and in 2010, following its completion, it was awarded the Baragwanath Trophy for the best JAP-Engined SS100 at the annual Brough Superior Club rally. Since 2010, the machine has been ridden sparingly, with less than 100 miles in total.



Those with swept aluminium exhaust coolers and high level exhausts on each side are the most desirable and attractive of all Brough Superior models. Very few survive and they rarely change hands. It is believed that no ‘finned elbow’ SS100 with matching frame and engine numbers and a surviving Works Record Card has ever been made available publicly, and this, therefore, offers a unique opportunity to acquire an early and original Alpine Grand Sports with unimpeachable provenance.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 212 894 1981
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more