Larry Lewis sent me a photo of the the last Brough Superior motorcycle that was owned by T. E. Lawrence, who was better known as “Lawrence of Arabia” for his exploits during World War I. There was a movie made about him called “Lawrence of Arabia”. By the way, this is a good movie and I would recommend watching it on the biggest screen that you can find. The scenery in the movie is spectacular. This was the motorcycle that he was riding when he was died in his accident in 1935. This motorcycle is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Lawrence of Arabia’s 1935 Brough Superior SS100
Apparently this is the only display in the Imperial War Museum that has its own separate room.
T. E. Lawrence owned 8 Brough motorcycles over the years
Lawrence was a very keen motorcycle rider. He did a lot of riding and apparently much of it was at fairly high speeds. He owned a number of Brough (pronounced “bruff”) Superior motorcycles over the years. Obviously the Brough Superior company used his name in some of their promotional material.
Another View of Lawrence’s 1935 Brough Superior SS100
Brough Superior motorcycles were very expensive in their day and they continue to be very expensive if you want to buy one today.
The following four models represent most of the production of Brough Superior motorcycles. Most were custom built to order and many variations were made:
- The SS100 (Super Sports), powered by J.A.P. or Matchless 1000 cc overhead valve V-twin engines. The SS100 was guaranteed to go 100 mph. Approximately 383 were manufactured from 1924 to 1940.
- The SS80 (Super Sports), powered by J.A.P. or Matchless 1,000 cc sidevalve V-twin engines. The SS80 was guaranteed to go 80 mph. Approximately 1,086 were manufactured from 1922 to 1940.
- The SS680 O.H.V. (Super Sports) powered by J.A.P. 680 cc overhead valve V-twin. Approximately 547 were manufactured from 1926 to 1936.
- The model 11.50, powered by J.A.P 1096 cc sidevalve 60° V-twin engines. These were primarily designed for sidecar and police use. Approximately 308 were manufactured from 1933 to 1940. The model name refers to the tax horsepower rating of the engine.
Brough Superior Motorcycles used Most J.A.P. Engines
The one early summer’s day in May 1935, Lawrence was riding his Brough Superior SS100 back home to cottage at Clouds Hill. Suddenly he came upon two boy cyclists, possibly obscured from view by a passing car; fatally swerving to avoid them, he was thrown over the handlebars onto the road. Like most riders of the time, he was not wearing a helmet, and so sustained a serious head injury which left him in a coma and claimed his life some six days later.
The Last Version of the Brough Superior SS100 in 1939
Production of the Brough Superior motorcycles ended when World War II started.