by Chris Bruce, 1 January 2016
The motorcycles from Brough Superior were some of the highest-performing bikes before World War II, and collectors like Jay Leno continue to prize the capability and craftsmanship of these rare cycles. Now, eight more will head to the auction block at Bonhams on April 24 thanks to a trove of recently discovered barn finds in the UK. They're in rough shape, but the auction house expects them to bring big money.
A member of the Brough Superior Club collected most of these motorcycles in the early 1960s, but eventually he stored them away in barns in the Cornish village of Bodmin Moor. Only a few people even knew these bikes still existed. "This is the last known collection of unrestored Brough Superiors; there will not be another opportunity like this," said Ben Walker, International Director for Bonhams Collectors' Motorcycle Department, in the auction announcement.
Junk covered these cycles for about 50 years, and their condition varies from mostly complete – but rough – to just a pile of parts. Bonhams thinks all of the bikes are restorable, but the new owner likely needs some deep pockets to make that a reality. A 1938 750cc BS4 has the highest sale estimate of the group at between $118,400 and $177,600. Meanwhile, two SS80 cycles in pieces each carry estimates between $8,900 and $11,800. Check out the gallery for a closer look at these rare barn finds.
BONHAMS ANNOUNCES SENSATIONAL MOTORCYCLE DISCOVERY
They were believed to have been destroyed, but earlier this year, eight long-lost Brough Superior Motorcycles were discovered in a Cornish village.
Unveiled for the first time in more than 50 years, 'The 'Broughs of Bodmin Moor' will be offered at Bonhams Sale of Important Collectors' Motorcycles at Stafford on 24 April 2016.
"This is one of the greatest motorcycle discoveries of recent times," said Ben Walker, International Director for Bonhams Collectors' Motorcycle Department. "A lot of mystery surrounds these motorcycles, as very few people knew that they still existed, many believing them to be an urban myt+h. There was a theory that they still existed somewhere in the West Country, but few knew where, until now."
"Stored in barns for more than 50 years, the motorcycles were discovered whole, in parts, and some were partially submerged under decades of dust, old machinery parts and household clutter."
"This is the last known collection of unrestored Brough Superiors; there will not be another opportunity like this. Only eight four-cylinder machines were built, and the example in this collection is the final one to be re-discovered."
Jonathan Vickers, Bonhams West Country motoring specialist, added, "The discovery of these Brough Motorcycles in Cornwall is historically significant; we're delighted that these machines will now be offered for sale on an international platform for the first time in more than half a century."
Brough Superior motorcycles are incredibly rare, powerful machines of the pre-war era. Dubbed the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles, they're famed as the bike of choice for aficionados such as the playwright George Bernard Shaw, and T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, owner of eight models.
The late-vendor, Mr. Frank Vague, was an avid member of the Brough Superior Club. He acquired the majority of the collection in the early 1960s; they've since remained unused for some 50 years."
"There is a strong market for unrestored, highly original motorcycles," added Ben Walker. "Bonhams regularly achieves world record breaking figures for Brough Superior motorcycles, including unusual projects, which appeal to the enthusiast and collector of the brand. It would be great to see these back on the road, as they are all restorable."
The motorcycles which form 'The Broughs of Bodmin Moor' Collection are:
The ex-Hubert Chantrey, 1938 Brough Superior 750cc BS4 £80,000-120,000
1938 Brough Superior 982cc SS100 Project £60,000-80,000
1926 Brough Superior SS100 £30,000-40,000
1938 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Project with Petrol Tube Sidecar £22,000-32,000
1939 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Project £20,000-30,000
1938 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50HP Project £16,000-22,000
1937 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Project £6,000-8,000
1936 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 Project £6,000-8,000
Secret horde of ultra-rare motorcycles found in barn