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Lot 300: 1931 Brough Superior Black Alpine VK 3772

Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams & Butterfields (12 November 2005)

Quite what George Brough’s father - Nottingham-based motorcycle manufacturer William Edward Brough - thought when his younger son cheekily added the word ‘Superior’ to the family name when founding his rival marque can only be imagined, but it’s thanks to this act of youthful bravado that we have one of the greatest and most-evocative names in motorcycling. W E Brough’s machines had been innovative and well-engineered, and his son’s continued the family tradition but with an added ingredient - style. The very first Brough Superior of 1919 featured a saddle tank - an innovation not adopted by the rest of the British industry until 1928 - and the latter’s broad-nosed, wedge-profiled outline would be a hallmark of the Nottingham-built machines from then on. Hand-built in small numbers, the Brough Superior was - inevitably - expensive, but as its maker acknowledged, he “never intended to produce (the) design as cheaply as possible.”

J A Prestwich of London and Motosacoche of Geneva supplied v-twin engines for the MkI and MkII Brough Superiors respectively, though within a few years all models would be JAP-powered. Gearboxes were sourced from Sturmey-Archer and (initially) forks from Montgomery, while frame and accessory manufacture was contracted out to specialists in the British motorcycle industry’s Midlands heartland.

With the SS80 and SS100 well established by the mid-1920s, it was decided to add a smaller and cheaper alternative to these two 1-liter models to the range. JAP was already producing a 674cc sidevalve v-twin engine and this unit, redesigned to accommodate overhead valves, went into Brough’s new ‘Overhead 680’. First shown to the public at the Olympia Motorcycle Show in 1926, the ‘Miniature SS100’, as George Brough called it, entered production for 1927. The new middleweight Brough was a success, and for the 1930 season was joined by a version to higher specification. First seen at the 1929 Motorcycle Show, the newcomer was dubbed ‘Black Alpine 680’, a reference to the lavishly equipped SS100 Alpine Grand Sports and the fact that the newcomer boasted a distinctive all-black eggshell finish. Principal mechanical difference from the standard Overhead 680 was the adoption of the patented Draper sprung frame.

Brough Superior Owners Club records show that this Black Alpine 680 was supplied new to Dene Motor Company, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and registered ‘VK 3772’. It is believed to have been last taxed for road use in 1949 and then stored by the same owner (in the Newcastle area) until sold in 1975. The machine underwent restoration in the early 1980s and was sold to the USA circa 1985. It was acquired by Bob Schanz in 1993. This machine is offered with a Bill of Sale.

Lot Details
Auction Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams & Butterfields, Petersen Museum, Los Angeles, CA
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number300
Estimate$25000-$35000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$38000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$43700
Year1931
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine number10009
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors