Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jay Leno's Garage Showcases A 1939 Brough Superior Motorcycle

Link to all things Brough Superior

1939 Brough Superior, one of finest British bikes ever made
1939 Brough Superior
More information on the Brough Superior, from Wikipedia

Brough Superior (play /ˈbrʌf/ BRUF) 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 of these motorcycles 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.

Early models include the Brough Superior Mark I Sidevalve, Mark I Overhead, Mark II Standard and Mark II Sports. Early to mid manufacture included the Overhead 500, 680 S.V. 5.15, and 750 Side Valve, but these were not popular and were dropped from production.

The following four models represent the bulk of manufacture. Most were custom built to order and many variations were made:

The 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. The SS80 (Super Sports), powered by J.A.P. or Matchless 1,000 cc sidevalve V-twin engines. Approximately 1,086 were manufactured from 1922 to 1940. The 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. The 11.50, powered by J.A.P 1096 cc sidevalve 60° V-twin engines. These were primarily designed for sidecar and police use. Approximately 308 were manufactured from 1933 to 1940. The model name refers to the horsepower rating of the engine, 11 RAC (Royal Automobile Club), 50 bhp (37 kW). In reality these engines produced 32 bhp (24 kW). Tax horsepower ratings were required by manufactures for tax purposes. RAC HP equals the piston diameter squared times the number of cylinders divided by 2.5.

Brough Superior produced many other experimental, show, and racing models. These include:

Golden Dream -  This was powered by a vertically stacked twin crankshaft opposed four cylinder engine. George Brough called this a "flat vertical" engine. The bike was finished differently and was unique for the marque as it was painted gold and was shaft driven. 

Straight Four Combination -  This bike was powered by a modified Austin 7 automobile engine. The transmission also came from an Austin 7. The Straight Four Combination was an inline four-cylinder motorcycle with shaft drive. It had two rear wheels that were mounted on each side of a cast drive unit. This motorcycle was made for sidecar use. 

Pendine - These were built in the early 1930s and had a guaranteed top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h). They were based on the SS100 model but with higher performance modifications to the engine. A well known racer, Barry Baragwanath, installed a supercharger on one, and it is now known as "Barry's Big Blown Brough". Noel Pope bought the motorcycle and in 1939 set two lap record with it at Brooklands; 106 mph (171 km/h) with sidecar, and 124 mph (200 km/h) in solo configuration, which exceeded the previous record set in 1935 by Eric Fernihough also on a Brough Superior.

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, making parts until 1969. Production of bikes never resumed after WWII.