Barnfinds continue to step from urban legend into reality, the latest being the discovery of eight Brough Superior Motorcycles in a Cornish village. Stored in barns, the motorcycles were discovered whole, in parts, and some were partially submerged under five decades of dust. The "Broughs of Bodmin Moor" will be offered at Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale on 24 April 2016 and will be certain to create global interest given the recent prices achieved by basketcases.
Prior to October, 2015, only one basketcase (unassembled motorcycle) had ever sold for more than $100,000, a 1955 Vincent Black Prince "project" below which sold for US$153,094 (£91,100 in June, 2014).
At Bonhams' 2015 Stafford Autumn Sale on 18 October, 2015, a 1927 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport Project sold for $400,039 (£259,100 - below left), a 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport Project sold for $365,454 (£236,700 - below right) and a 1934 Brough Superior 1,096 cc 11-50 HP Project sold for $144,113 (£93,340). Though the latter was in one piece, it needed a complete restoration.
In one day, Bonhams sold the most valuable basketcase motorcycle in history, more than doubling the previous record, and the second most valuable basketcase in history.
Authenticity appears to be suddenly bringing a premium at motorcycle auctions, as does the knowledge that if you are going to have a restored motorcycle in the investment portfolio, being able to vouch for the quality of the workmanship is an insurance policy, and the only sure fire way to be able to do that is to have overseen it.
So the possibilities that arise from the bikes unearthed at Bodmin Moor are potentially going to make for an interesting auction, particularly given that two Series-A Vincent Rapides (here and here) and a 1929 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying-8 OHV are already on the bill.
Foremost among the Brough Superiors found at Bodmin Moor is a fabled, four cylinder BS4 Brough Superior. Of the 3,048 Brough Superior motorcycles ever made, only eight four-cylinder machines were ever built (and they all had two rear wheels, as they were intended to be sidecar mounts), and the example in this collection is the final one to be re-discovered. All the others are now accounted for.
The last time a BS4 went to auction, a 1932 model (pictured above) sold for £246,400 ($375,913) at the H&H Classic Auctions April 2013 sale at the Imperial War Museum. The Vintagent's Paul D'Orleans rode one and called it a "zen motorcycle." The estimate of £80,000 to £120,000 looks very conservative in light of the Bonhams' 2015 Stafford Autumn Sale results just a few months ago.
"This is one of the greatest motorcycle discoveries of recent times," said Ben Walker, International Director for Bonhams Collectors' Motorcycle Department. "A lot of mystery surrounds these motorcycles, as very few people knew that they still existed, many believing them to be an urban myth. There was a theory that they still existed somewhere in the West Country, but few knew where, until now."
The motorcycles were owned by Brough Superior Club member Frank Vague, who recently passed away. Most of the bikes were apparently acquired during the 1960s.
We normally wouldn't preview an auction this far in advance, but figure our readership might need a little advance warning of the opportunity.
Also included in the find which forms "The Broughs of Bodmin Moor" Collection are: