Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It appears the revived Brough Superior is feeling its oats and wanting to test its mettle at the Bonneville Salt Flats, after an absence of 60 years, when Noel Pope made an ill-fated attempt with a streamlined B-S to take the motorcycle Land Speed Record (which would make an excellent post...).  Mark Upham has no such ambitions with this proposed foray onto the salt, but would like to 'see what she'll do'  - she being an SS101 'Pendine' model (apparently, 'Bonneville' is taken...) with a specially-tuned JAP engine, which will be redubbed the 'Retro'.
Alistair Gibson (above), who was present at the Men's File party in Paris, is heading up the team, and brings considerable experience with F1 race team management, and prior experience with speed attempts at Bonneville, having broken a record with his Honda F1 car in 2006 (below).

Depending on the speed achieved by the 'Retro', replica machines with tuned engines may be dubbed 'SS120', or 'SS127.543'...  In any case, The Vintagent will be present to document the experience, and hopefully grab saddle time on the salt.

Here's the press release:
"Mark Upham, CEO of Brough Superior Motorcycles Ltd [above, with Gibson], is delighted to announce the firm will be contesting Bonneville Speed Week next year with a new machine based on the existing 1927 SS100 Pendine model, which was first unveiled at Pebble Beach in August 2009.  The machine will be known as the Brough Superior SS100 Retro; it will be running on pump fuel, un-streamlined.  Design, style, and construction will be the direct responsibility of Alistair Gibson, formerly chief mechanic for Honda Formula One, and lifelong 2-wheel enthusiast. After a quarter century working for several Champions in F1 Alistair now works from his own design studio near Oxford.  “When Mark approached me with the idea of a “Retro” machine for Bonneville I was immediately fired up; I know the extent of the challenge, having previously been deeply involved on the salt in 2006, with the Honda F1 car that broke the existing record for the category!” 
The motivation for this exciting project comes from Mark Upham himself, who confirms that the project is to be funded by Brough Superior Motorcycles Ltd.  In anticipating the machine’s final completion and testing by July it is then intended the “Retro” will be despatched to Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage in Los Angeles where, after re-assembly, it will be shown for the first time.  The “Retro” will then be displayed on the Brough Superior stand at Pebble Beach in mid-August, prior to shipment to the Bonneville Salt Flats towards the end of that month. The “Retro” machine’s progress can be followed on the firm’s website:

Mark Upham says, “Alistair has been helping us for the past two years; I am therefore delighted to have him so closely involved with the “Retro” project, which effectively, is Brough Superior’s first return to Bonneville after an absence of 60 years!”

[Below, Noel Pope with his streamlined B-S, at the Salt Flats, 1949.  He crashed the thing, vowing 'never to ride a streamlined motorcycle again.']