Bonhams Smash World Record for British Motorcycle

By Paul Joseph

Bonhams has set a new world record auction price for a British motorcycle, as the gavel fell at £331,900 for the 1938 Brough Superior 750cc BS4 at a recent sale in Stafford, West Midlands.

The BS4 was the highlight lot in the long-lost ‘The Broughs of Bodmin Moor’ collection, which achieved a total of £752,625. These rare British motorcycles were believed to have been destroyed, until Bonhams motorcycle department discovered the eight machines in 2015 in a remote Cornish village.

The motorcycles were discovered whole, in parts, and some were partially submerged under decades of dust, old machinery parts and household clutter. Bonhams Stafford sale saw the bikes unveiled for the first time in more than 50 years.

Motorcycles of the 1920s and 1930s largely featured only one cylinder, so when the BS4 launched at the Olympia Motor Cycle Show in 1931, with its engine and gearbox taken from an Austin 7 motor car, it was truly revolutionary for the marque. Only ten BS4 models were built, and only seven survive.

Ben Walker, International Director for Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycle Department, said: “The Broughs of Bodmin Moor are the motorcycle discovery of the decade. They’ve caused quite a stir in the saleroom, with each one far exceeding 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.”

“Having been housed in a Cornwall barn for so many decades, we’re delighted to have brought these machines back into the spotlight,” said Jonathan Vickers, Bonhams West Country motoring specialist. “They’ve sold phenomenally well, cementing Bonhams highly successful record breaking reputation in the collectors’ motoring industry.”

The Bonhams sale featured the best of British motorcycles, with Vincent, Coventry Eagle, and of course the rarest of Brough Superiors leading more than 230 machines to achieve a total £3,454,501.

Further successes of the sale include the 1939 Vincent-HRD 998cc Rapide Series-A Project, sold to a European bidder for £270,300; the 1929 Coventry-Eagle 980cc Flying-8 OHV, sold for £163,900, and the c.1959 Norton-JAP 998cc Sprinter ‘Thor’, sold for £61,990.

By Paul Joseph