1. 1939 Brough Superior SS80

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Lot Number
45
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1939 Brough Superior SS80


Offered Without Reserve

ESTIMATE: $80,000 - $120,000
CHASSIS NO: M8/2140
• A matching numbers example of the renowned prewar British V-Twin
• History documented by UK marque expert Mike Leatherdale
• Ex-Steve Klein collection; striking and authentic example
• Accompanied by copies of original factory production records

982 cc air-cooled Matchless V-Twin engine, single carburetor, four-speed manual gearbox, tubular steel frame with single-compression front spring, eight-inch front and rear brakes


While Brough Superior was only in operation between the wars, its motorcycles continue to exemplify power, performance, and adventure. Established by George Brough in Nottingham, England, Brough Superior produced an estimated 3,048 motorcycles among 19 different models and some 1,000 examples exist today. Built with the finest components and engineering, Brough Superiors were ridden by the most discerning motorcyclists of the prewar years, most notably T.E. Lawrence of “Lawrence of Arabia” fame. Fit, finish, and durability of Brough Superiors were comparable to Rolls-Royce motorcars and pricing was high.

The SS80, named in recognition of its guaranteed 80-mph top speed, debuted in 1922. It achieved instant fame when a stripped-down racing version nicknamed ‘Spit and Polish’ was ridden by George Brough to become the first sidevalve-engine motorcycle to lap Brooklands at over 100 mph on Brough Superior’s Brooklands debut. Later, that same SS80 – subsequently renamed ‘Old Bill’ – won 51 out of the 52 races it contested, only failing in its final race with a blown tire. Brough Superior was exclusively JAP-powered until the early 1930s and then, after a brief hiatus, the SS80 reappeared as the SS80 Special in 1935, now with an engine built by Associated Motor Cycles. Similar to that of the Matchless Model X, the new 982 cc sidevalve V-twin was re-engineered internally to Brough’s preferred specifications and continued to power the SS80 until production ended with the onset of wartime. George Brough ceased motorcycle production after the war; however, parts and components continued in production through the late 1960s.

Bearing Frame Number M8/2140, this 1939 Brough Superior SS80 from The Allen Smith Collection is one of 460 Matchless-engine SS80s built, of which some 300 survive, according to marque experts. History is very well-documented by Mike Leatherdale, the Machine Registrar of the Brough Superior Club, and includes copies of the factory production card. According to Mr. Leatherdale, this SS80’s frame was built on March 3, 1939 and the completed SS80 left the factory for Laytons of Oxford on July 18, 1939. It was first registered as ‘HJO 991’ on July 22, 1939 to King’s Motors (Oxford) Ltd., part of the same company as Laytons. Interestingly, the Managing Director of Laytons and King’s Motors was Stan Hailwood, father of legendary British racer Mike Hailwood. While the original buyer remains unknown, ownership history picks up in May 1949 with the SS80 owned by Thomas Cousins of Edinburgh, Scotland. The next recorded owner was D.D. Gray, also from Edinburgh, in 1973. The SS80 passed through four more owners in the UK until the latter 1980s, and according to Mr. Leatherdale’s records, some restoration work was performed on the bike by John Porter. By 1980, the SS80 was sold to Australia, where it passed through several more owners and a restoration is reported to have been performed during the late 1990s/early 2000s by Joe Wilson of Brisbane. In 2004, the SS80 was sold by then-owner Peter J. Coad to noted motorcycle collector Steve Klein of Texas. In March 2009, Allen Smith purchased the SS80 from Mr. Klein.

As offered from The Allen Smith Collection, this 1939 Brough Superior SS80 is highly engaging and projects an appearance of power and speed, even while at rest, with its purposeful black paint finish, big V-twin engine, and muscular profile. The sprung front fork and seat handle bumps, while the rear wheel is unsprung. Interestingly, the original production records specified a rear suspension in error, with the entry corrected and crossed out. Rear pannier-type cases provide storage for small items, and a rear fender-mounted seat accommodates occasional passengers. A nice overall patina heightens the visual impression of this SS80. Just six miles, likely since restoration, are indicated on the 120-mph Smiths speedometer, which also contains the odometer/trip meter. The rear plate bears the original ‘HJO 991’ registration number. When new and through today, Brough Superiors remain machines for true connoisseurs of power and quality engineering, including screen legend Steve McQueen, who owned a 1931 SS80. Offered from a true classic motorcycle aficionado in that rich tradition, this 1939 Brough Superior SS80 is a rare find with its well-documented history. Best of all, its frame, engine, and gearbox numbers all match the factory records, making it an extremely desirable, collector-quality example throughout.

1939 Brough Superior SS80
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