Born Again Brough

A Superior Brough Superior

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Brough Superior Motorcycles Ltd.

Brough Superior motorcycles have always evoked luxury, style and, above all, exclusivity. With only 81 SS100s remaining in the world, joining T.E. Lawrence, Alan Cathcart and Jay Leno on the owner’s registry has never been an easy—or affordable—proposition. Now, thanks to the incredible effort and imagination of one super-enthusiast, you can buy a brand-new SS100 built precisely to your specifications, just like 75 years ago. But don’t expect it to be any easier—or cheaper—than acquiring an original.

Mark Upham, a British citizen who operates the world-renowned restoration firm British Only Austria in Pettenbach, has been devoted to the brand since 1977. When Bonhams offered the Brough trademark and assets for sale in 2008, he jumped at the opportunity. Acting on behalf of Netherton Industries, Upham negotiated the purchase and reorganized Brough Superior Motorcycles, which Upham now oversees as CEO. The revitalized firm manufactures and sells Brough Superior memorabilia and spare parts—including, in extremely limited quantities, complete SS100 motorcycles.

It’s unfair to call these exquisite machines “reproductions.” These are genuine Brough Superior motorcycles, built under the same name, using the same design and engineering created by George Brough and lead engineer Harold Karslake, as if production never ceased in 1940. If anything these are superior motorcycles, benefiting from 70 years’ worth of advances in metallurgy and manufacturing technology. Many of the components are made to original specifications on all-new tooling, and the few outsourced pieces come from firms that also supply Audi and Lamborghini.

“As we got deeper into restorations and began manufacturing more and more of our own parts, building a complete bike seemed possible,” says Upham, who never considered updating the original designs. “Our passion is the old bikes. They must look the same. I simply wanted to do things that George Brough couldn’t do, and build the best possible version of his motorcycle.”

Upham isn’t saying how many “new” Broughs have been built since ’08, but he assures us it’s only a handful. “We guarantee to our buyers that the bikes will remain precious.” Besides, with a rigorous screening process—Upham turns away as many clients as he accepts—a build time of one year and one day, plus a price tag hovering around $250,000, the market is unlikely to be flooded with new SS100s anytime soon. MC

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