Rare Bikes Found in Barn; Auction in April

Rare Bikes Found in Barn; Auction in April

Posted by Ben Baker on Dec 30th 2016

Eight historic motorcycles were found in mid-December in a barn in Great Britain. The bikes, none of which are in rideable condition, will be auctioned in April in England.

One of the bikes is expected to fetch more than $150,000 at the April auction at Bonhams in England. The 4-cylinder Brough (pronounced Bruff) Superior is only one of eight ever built. Maintained and rideable Brough bikes are bringing $350K or more at auction.

The original company only built about 3,000 bikes. Estimates say about 1,000 still exist, including the eight found in the Cornwall barn.

“This is one of the greatest motorcycle discoveries of recent times,” said Ben Walker, head of Bonhams’ motorcycle department. “Very few people knew that they still existed, many believing them to be an urban myth. There was a theory that they still existed somewhere in the West Country, but few knew where, until now.”

The deceased owner, Frank Vague was a member of the Brough Superior Club and bought the rides in the 1960s. There’s no word on when he last rode one, but judging from the condition of the bikes, it was certainly a long time ago.

One of the bikes has a sidecar. One has dual rear wheels, but the wheels are only a few inches apart. The cheapest rides are two project motorcycles and are in parts. They are expected to sell for $9,000 to $12,000.


Brough Superiors motorcycles were once the world’s most prestigious motorcycles. In one sense, Brough could be called the world’s first chopper shop. Most of the bikes were built to a customer’s specifications.

British army officer TE Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia, was killed in 1935 on the back of a Brough SS100 bike he nicknamed George VIII. Other famous owners included George Bernard Shaw and Orson Welles. Jay Leno owns six.

The Brough motorcycles were known for speed in a time when motorcycles were not speed machines. One of the bikes set a land speed record for 170 miles per hour in 1937.

The last bike was built in 1940. The factory was switched over to making plan engines for the WWII British Air Force.

The current Brough Motorcycle company is not connected to the original Brough Superior Motorcycle company.