Reference: A to Z classic reference: Brough – Brown


Brough Superior – regarded by many as the pinnacle of vintage motorcycle design

Brough 1909-25 UK
The above dates are generally accepted as the production dates for WE Brough’s motorcycles. Yet he built his first motorcycle, powered by a period clip on engine in 1902 and by 1906, both sons, William (jnr) and George, were entering reliability trials riding Brough motorcycles. Early models were fitted with single and V-twin proprietary engines. An association, in 1912, with design engineer Granville Bradshaw, led to William Brough fitting Bradshaw’s ABC units followed by 496, 693 and 810cc flat twins of his own build.

We’ve all heard the old joke describing William’s motorcycles as the Brough Inferior, but the reverse is true. They were quality machines, which inspired young George Brough to build his ‘Superior’ motorcycles. Survivors of William’s Brough are rare, but odd examples surface and command high prices.

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Brough Superior 1919-40 UK
George Brough, although in partnership with his father at the end of WWI, wanted to build ‘superior’ motorcycles. After an amicable split, George established premises on a plot of land he bought in Haydn Road, Nottingham. All but his first few machines, built in 1919, were assembled at Haydn Road until the late Thirties when many Brough Superiors were built in his late father’s premises at Vernon Road, Nottingham.

Production commenced with the Mark I powered by the famous ohv ‘90 bore’ V-twin JAP. Soon side-valve V-twins powered by either JAP or MAG engines were added to the range. The 981cc JAP side-valve V-twin engined SS80 followed in 1922 and the ohv SS100 was launched in late 1924 for the 1925 season. Each SS100, which later sired the Grand Alpine Sports and Pendine models, was supplied with a maker’s certificate guaranteeing it had been tested at 100mph.

Smaller models appeared in 1927, the Overhead 680 and the 750cc Side-Valve, marketed by George as smaller versions of the SS100 and SS80. As the Twenties gave way to the next decade, more new models were launched including the ohv 500 (a baby Brough), the Austin Seven powered 800cc Four and later the 11-50 range. As the supply of JAP engines became more erratic, Matchless V-twin units were employed.

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George also built a number of prototypes for which he made, or part-made, the engines, including the V-Four, Straight Four and Golden Dream. From 1935-39 cars were built too. As well as the machines being fast, well designed, attractive and expensive, George Brough – himself a top speed man and trials rider – attracted a number of leading personalities and racers to the marque including Lawrence of Arabia, Eric Fernihough, John Carr, Ted Baragwaneth, Noel Pope and Freddy Dixon. The association of these larger than life characters added to the Brough mystique.

Although wanting to restart production after WWII, a dearth of quality proprietary engines forced George Brough to abandon the idea. Brough survival rate is good but ownership is expensive and, for many, a lifelong affair.

Brown 1902-19 UK
Brown Bros Ltd supplied accessories and components to both the automotive and motorcycle trade and were a small volume motorcycle maker. Engines range from 250cc singles to 498cc single cylinder and V-twin versions. A handful of examples survive. bike

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