Special Brough aims for R3.5m
IT'S WORTH MILLIONS: ‘Titch’ Allen astride ‘Old Bill’ at Stanford Hall, England, back in 1962.
LONDON, England - Having already claimed the world record price for a motorcycle at auction – the equivalent of R3.6-millon for a 1929 Brough Superior SS100 – the UK's H&H Classics is now offering another Brough which many aficionados regard as the most historically significant powered two-wheeler.
It's 'Old Bill', the personal 1922 racing SS80 of the company’s founder, George Brough, which will go under the hammer at the Imperial War Museum in the UK on October 4. It carries an estimate of nearly R3.5-million.
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This extraordinary motorcycle was originally known as ‘Spit & Polish’ (due to its immaculate appearance) and achieved its first victory at the Brooklands circuit in southern England but also put its rider in hospital later the same day after a puncture. Undeterred, Brough rebuilt the motorcycle with special forks and a prototype JAP engine, renamed it ‘Old Bill’ in memory of Bruce Bairnsfather’s First World War cartoon character, and went on to win 51 sprints in the 1922/1923 seasons.
In the 52nd, at Clipstone, Nottinghamshire, it made fastest time of the day; even though the bike and rider crossed the line separately! With Brough once more in hospital, ‘Old Bill’ was converted to road trim and sold to fund the factory’s wages.
During the Second World War the machine was damaged by a bath falling from above and remained in storage until the late 1950's when it was acquired by ‘Titch’ Allen, founder of the now 16 000-strong Vintage Motor Cycle Club and renowned Brough enthusiast. With the assistance of George Brough and his one-time works manager Ike Webb the bike was restored to its 1923 specification and demonstrated at Clipstone in 1959 with George Brough astride once more (this time without incident) and at the Brighton Speed Trials and Brooklands by Allen before the motorcycle’s title passed to his son Roger in 1988.
Then chairman of the VMCC’s racing section and an accomplished historic racer, Roger Allen equipped ‘Old Bill’ with a sidecar so he could enter the occasional sprint with his wife Sue as passenger. He also ran it in solo trim in the 1991 Isle of Man TT races – the first time a Brough had competed on the island. He was killed there the following year while riding a Triumph, after which his motorcycle collection, including ‘Old Bill’, passed to his wife.
Since then it's been on display at the Nottingham Industrial Museum in England.
H&H is offering ‘Old Bill’ as part of the Roger Allen Collection. Among the motorcycles due to be auctioned at Duxford on October 4 are some other Brough Superiors and an example of the company’s famous ‘banking’ sidecar.
Further details of this and all H&H motorcycle and motorcar sales can be found at www.handh.co.uk.