Setting an auction record for a motorcycle, this 1922 Brough Superior, known to all as ‘Old Bill’, sold for £260,000 last week.
The winning bid for the historic machine at H&H
Classics' sale at IWM Duxford on October 23 matched the hammer
price of another Superior (an SS100 dating from 1929) sold by the
same firm two years ago.
However with the buyer's premium now 12%, the buyer paid
£291,200 as compared to £286,000 in 2009 when the premium was
George Beale, principal of H&H's motorcycle department,
described it as "the most important British motorcycle ever built".
The estimate was £250,000-270,000 and there were four serious
bidders on the day.
This Superior, with a 1000cc side valve 'V' twin engine, was
custom-built for the personal use of George Brough, founder of
Brough Superior Motorcycles. He rode it for his first win at
Brooklands (it was the first side-valve machine to lap the Surrey
track at over 100mph) and racked up 51 victories in 1922-23 when he
rebuilt the bike for sprinting and hill-climbing.
A burst tyre cost him the 52nd race and he had to sell the bike
after a crash kept him in hospital and he had to pay the wages of
By now a bike first dubbed Spit and Polish was known as Old
Bill. It was converted to road trim and was damaged in the
Second World War during the Blitz when a cast-iron bath fell on it.
In the late 1950s it was owned by 'Titch' Allen, founder of the
Vintage Motorcycle Club, and restored to its 1923 condition with
the assistance of George Brough.
In 1959 George actually rode it again on the same stretch of
road where he had his accident 36 years earlier - this time staying
'Titch' gave the bike to his son Roger in 1988, who raced Old
Bill in the TT races in 1991 (the first time a Brough had ever
competed on the Isle of Man). Roger was killed on a Triumph machine
when he crashed competing on the island in 1992. His collection
passed to his widow and it had been on show at Nottingham
Industrial Museum until she decided to sell.
Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.