As the gavel stroke the final at a whopping £331,900 for the 1938 Brough Superior 750cc BS4, Bonhams set a new world record. Bonhams, the privately owned British auction house and one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques, smashed all previous records for any British motorcycle sold at auction.
The rare British bike BS4 was the flagship in the collection entitled ‘The Broughs of Bodmin Moor’ or “last known collection of unrestored Broughs” described by auctioneers Bonhams which sold and achieved a price of £752,625.
It was believed that these rare British motorcycles to have been completely destroyed and went “extinct” until the motorcycle department at Bonhams stumble upon eight of these beasts in a Cornish barn covered with layers of dust in December 2015. When they were discovered, some of them were whole, some in parts and some were peaking underneath decades of dust and household clutter.
The late vendor, Frank Vague was an avid member of the Brough Superior Club and the owner of these beauties, he bought them in the early 1960s. The iconic British motorcycles were unveiled for the first time in more than 50 years at the Bonhams Stafford sale.
The International Director of Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycle Department, Ben Walker dubbed it the discovery of the decade saying “The Broughs of Bodmin Moor is the motorcycle discovery of the decade. They’ve caused quite a stir in the saleroom, with each one far exceeding the estimate, allowing us to break our own world record for a British motorcycle sold at auction, the 1938 Brough Superior 750cc BS4 selling for £331,900 to a German bidder in the room.”
The winner of the auction was an unnamed bidder, allegedly a German citizen who paid £331,900 and went home with the 1938 Brough Superior 750cc BS4.
The machine is unique in its design, being powered by a modified Austin 7 automobile engine and gearbox unit, from which a driveshaft emerges on the centerline of the motor. Rather than design a new gearbox, George Brough had the inspiration to keep the central driveshaft, and use a pair of close-couple rear wheels driven by a central final drive box.
Bonhams Co-Chairman and auctioneer Malcolm Barber, said: “The Bonhams team have held an auction at the Stafford International Motorcycle show for more than 28 years. The sale is an institution and one that rightly attracts the attention of motorcycle enthusiasts from across the globe. With a packed saleroom and bids coming in internationally – including a determined bidder who flew in from the antipodes – and several world records achieved, such as for the 1956 Vincent 499cc Comet Series-C/D which sold for £55,200, as well as of course for Brough Superior, it’s been yet another incredible Stafford Sale.”