When he started his motorcycle wrecking parts business under his house in 1971, Fred Drake probably never dreamed he would one day be selling $100k+ Brough Superiors to well-heeled riders.
Fred, 70, is now the first Australian distributor for the venerable British-now-French marque in more than 80 years.
He has opened a showroom for the expensive bespoke machines in his business equipment offices in the gradually gentrifying warehouse district behind Brisbane’s “Magic Mile of Motors” in Moorooka.
The model line-up is:
- SS100, $105,000 (Euro 3);
- SS100, $110,000 (Euro 4);
- Pendine Sand Racer, $105,000;
- Anniversary, $168,000;
- AMB 001 (track only), $185,000.
Long Brough history
Brough Superiors were no longer being built when Fred was a lad.
George Brough stunned the world with his handmade machines of which he built only 3048 from 1919 to 1940 in Nottingham, England.
They were called the Rolls Royce of motorcycles and each SS100 model came with a certificate to prove it could go 100mph (160km/h).
Owners included such luminaries as Orson Welles, George Bernard Shaw and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who tragically crashed one at high speed and died.
The brand lay dormant until 2008 when Austrian-based English businessman and motorcycle enthusiast Mark Upham bought the rights to the name.
In 2013 he enlisted French designer Thierry Henriette to build a modern-era SS100 prototype and the first Brough Superior motorcycles in seven decades rolled off the assembly line in France in 2016.
They are all handmade to order at a rate of one a day in Toulouse, France.
Broughs are powered by a 997cc, DOHC 88-degree V-twin built by French company Akira, who built the Kawasaki ZX-10R which won the World Superbike championship.
It comes as a 75kW unit but can be tuned up to 102kW at the customer’s request.
Importer of passion
Fred became the importer almost by accident.
“I saw them at the Paris Retromobile Classic Car show in 2019 and liked them,” Fred says. (https://www.retromobile.com/)
“I was interested in buying one. I like a naked bike where you can see the engine and the shape.
“To me the Brough captures the essence of the original 1930s bike, but in a modern machine.”
So he bought an SS100 and the company asked if he would also be interested in importing them.
After considering the business case with industry veteran Dale Schmidtchen, he went ahead with what he calls his “passion project”.
“I thought it would be a bit of fun,” he says.
“You park this bike anywhere and you instantly get people stop and say ‘wow’.
“I had it parked out front and two teenagers stopped to look at it, then a mum and her daughter admired it and then some older people.”
His “showroom” is just an office in a modern warehouse on Station Rd, Yeerongpilly, behind a trendy cafe shop.
You can drop in and have a look at 6/281 Station Rd, Yeerongpilly, but they don’t encourage “tyre kickers”.
In fact, you really need to make an appointment first.
Since all bikes are made to order, Dale says it could take about two months for customer delivery.
He and Fred expect they will sell anywhere from 10 to 25 a year.
About 60% of Brough Superiors are bought by collectors, but Fred says they are a joy to ride and should be ridden, not just admired.
Warranty and service
They will come with a two-year unlimited-kilometre warranty on parts and labour and two-year roadside assistance program.
There will also be an extended warranty offer.
They may be expensive to buy, but Fred says they are no more expensive to maintain than any other bike.
He will stock service spare parts and order in other parts as needed.
There won’t be a dealer network as such, but a network of preferred dealers to do the handover and servicing.
Dale has also sourced a selection of finance and insurance options for customers.