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1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine Registration no. JO 1134 Frame no. H1032 Engine no. GTOY/W 7659/S

Sold for £138,140 inc. premium
Lot 292
1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine
Registration no. JO 1134 Frame no. H1032 Engine no. GTOY/W 7659/S

1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine
Registration no. JO 1134
Frame no. H1032
Engine no. GTOY/W 7659/S

Gearbox no. BIV442

George Brough's motorcycles have been extensively researched and written up over many years. The "Overhead" 680 was the company's best seller through the tough trading years of the late 20s and early 30s. It was introduced in 1926 and sold well initially, but the early engines weren't as robust as those on the larger machines. JAP responded with a redesigned engine, but by the end of the decade George Brough felt the need to launch a de luxe version, and the Black Alpine 680 was announced in November 1929.

'The MotorCycle' reported "Brough Superior enthusiasts will no doubt be very surprised to learn that this famous make will dispense with the well known plated tank on one entirely new model known as the Black Alpine 680". This seems to have been a sort of "less is more" marketing move which worked. There were other eye-catching features such as twin headlamps and the linked silencers. Titch Allen speculated that the money saved on the tank might have covered the extra cost of the four speed gearbox specified for the new model.

The history of this wonderfully patinated Black Alpine is known from new. It was supplied in August 1930 by Laytons of Oxford to one D. R. Venables. Two 1930 photos show it parked on the Iffley Road in Oxford close to the owner's home. The following summer Mr. Venables rode the bike on an extended continental tour accompanied by his friend Dennis Welch who used his Morgan three wheeler for the trip. They visited Switzerland and the south of France. Two photos of the Brough and the Morgan on this trip are included in the sale, as is the Brough's 1931 "International Certificate for Motor Vehicles" – effectively a passport for the machine, which was a requirement if you went continental touring at that time. In late 1931 the Black Alpine was sold to Chris Arthurs, a skilled carpenter who lived in Reading. He was to keep the Brough for the next forty years. He fitted a sidecar and the Black Alpine was used for work and family holidays. It was he who fitted the very distinctive discs to the wheels. His shop-fitting activities yielded the materials for a number of modifications he made in the course of his ownership. The wooden seat base and its upholstery came from seats in the Palace Theatre, Reading. He also fitted the wooden number plates which are still there today, and modified the handlebars to suit the sidecar. During the later war years he rode the outfit far and wide repairing Mosquito aircraft.

The third and present owner (for the last 44 years) had known Chris Arthurs for a long time, and had previously asked for first refusal if Chris ever decided to part with the Brough. Chris, by now in his eighties, finally offered him the machine in 1971. The present owner who had a young family was unable to afford the asking price of £200 and was allowed to pay the balance off at a rate of £5 per month! The receipted payment schedule comes with the machine. It was then used for a number of years until a conrod broke in 1976. Fifteen years passed before it was back on the road, and it has been used regularly ever since.

In 1996 it starred in 'The Big Breakfast' on Channel 4 with Wallace & Grommit. Around 2001 the engine was rebuilt by Dave Clark including the approved strengthening modification with bolt through cylinder barrels. It has probably covered less than 2,000 miles since. Bringing things right up to date, in the 2014 Banbury Run it won the prize for the best Brough Superior, and was the only Brough to be ridden to a Gold Award. In his notebook the vendor recorded "....engine runs like dream – such power......" He describes the paint and bright work as "poor", but the engine as "top notch", and also reports that a new battery is required. It should be noted that the original inverted front brake lever now operates the auxiliary oil pump, whilst an additional period brake lever (which matches the clutch lever) deals with the brake.

This is a matching numbers machine (frame, engine and gearbox), all housed in the sprung frame. It comes with a large history file including photographs, a Brough Superior club copy of the original works record card, contemporary magazine reports of the new Black Alpine, a separate notebook recording work on the machine over many years, a letter from George Brough to Chris Arthurs dated 13th September 1937 (the signature may perhaps be by rubber stamp), an article written for the Brough Superior Club newsletter in September 2012, a roadtest of the machine by 'Motorcycle Sport and Leisure' in September 1996, a photocopy of a 2 page chapter about the machine from Titch Allen's Brough book "Legends in their Lifetime", two continuation logbooks, a current V5C and earlier V5 registration document, an original Brough Superior 'instruction book', 21 old MoT certificates (the earliest dated November 1972), and 22 old tax discs.

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  • 25 April 2015, 09:00 - 17:00 BST

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