There’s a reason Steve McQueen prized his 1931 Brough Superior SS80 as the cornerstone of his motorcycle collection. Very few Broughs were ever made. In the 1930s, Brough Superiors were considered the “Rolls-Royce of motorcycles.” Each Brough as put together with extreme attention to detail. The bikes were all assembled twice. The first assembly was meant to assure proper fit; the second assembly had the purpose of ensuring that the components were properly finished. With such a meticulous approach, it’s no wonder that production was low. These weren’t bikes that were churned out by the thousands or even the hundreds.
After assembly, each bike was tested. In the case of the SS80, the bike was run up to its 80 miles per hour threshold—a speed that was 60 miles per hour over England’s national speed limit at the time. George Brough claimed 50 consecutive wins at races and set multiple world records with an SS80. It wasn’t just Steve McQueen who took notice of the Broughs. George Bernard Shaw and T.E. Lawrence were also fans.
The original owner of the bike, McQueen was gracious enough to lend it to his good friend Kenneth “Von Dutch” Howard. Von Dutch lent the bike to a mutual friend, Jimmy Brucker, for the MovieWorld Cars of the Stars museum in Southern California. The bike is now available through Gooding and Company and comes with letters of authenticity from McQueen’s son.