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The Lost Brough Superiors of Bodmin Moor

Brough Superior 

The horde included a 1938 SS100 (pictured) and a rare 750cc BS4. Photo by Phillip Tooth

Bonhams Auctions motoring specialist Jonathan Vickers first heard the legend of the lost Brough Superiors of Bodmin Moor about 20 years ago, but like many others he thought that it was just an urban myth.

“I was at the Royal Cornwall Show when a man told me that a family who lived in a remote village on Bodmin Moor might need advice on the best way to sell some old Brough Superiors,” Vickers says, “but he couldn’t remember the address.” Rugged and desolate Bodmin Moor covers over 125 square miles of northeastern Cornwall, England, so Vickers’ boss Ben Walker came up with the idea of using Google Street View. “We knew that the property was run down, and that there were a number of outbuildings, so we used Google to scout the location,” he explains. “And we found one that looked promising.”

When Vickers arrived at the property with a couple of Bonhams catalogs in hand, the family was happy for him to look inside the sheds. “I couldn’t believe it,” Vickers says. “There were eight Broughs, including a 1938 Matchless-engined SS100, a sidevalve 11-50hp JAP model, and even a 750cc BS4, one of only 10 of these 4-cylinder, twin-rear-wheel motorcycles to be made. Some were partly dismantled; others were submerged under decades of dust, old machinery and household clutter.”

Brough Superior 

The horde included a 1938 SS100 and this rare 750cc BS4.  Photo by Phillip Tooth

The collection had been amassed in the 1960s by Frank Vague, who was a frail 94 years old when the Bonhams team arrived. “He hadn’t seen them for a while,” adds Walker. “I think that he believed they were still in the same condition as when he pushed them into the sheds and the pigsty. Unfortunately, after over 50 years, they had deteriorated somewhat.” It took three months to pull all the bikes and parts out. “This is probably the last collection of unrestored Broughs in the world,” adds Walker. “And one of the greatest motorcycle discoveries of recent times. There will never be an opportunity like this again.” The Broughs of Bodmin Moor will be auctioned by Bonhams at Stafford on April 24, 2016, where the BS4 is expected to bring $120,000-$170,000. More info at bonhams.com — Phillip Tooth