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World’s Most Expensive Motorcycle up for Auction

“Old Bill” could nudge the $500,000 mark.

by on Jun.28, 2012

George Brough riding his Superior "OldBill" motorcycle in 1959 at British track Clipstone.

It’s probably pocket change when compared to the figures some rare Ferraris and Bugattis have been commanding at auction, lately, but the legendary Brough Superior motorcycle known as “Old Bill” very well could become the world’s most expensive bike when it goes up for auction in October.

The rare racing motorcycle, dating back to 1922, has a very good shot at pushing past the previous record sale – also for a Brough bike – and nudge upwards of $500,000, according to auction sponsors.

“If I could bring any motorcycle in the world to auction, it would probably be this one,” says said George Beale, Principal in the motorcycle department at auction house H&H.

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Suggesting that its rarity and history are “unrivaled,” Beale adds that, “there is no telling what it could make on the day. It is an absolute privilege to be handling the sale of such an automotive icon and we very much look forward to being able to show it to the world’s serious collectors.”

The Brough family began producing motorcycles in 1908, founded by William Brough.  His son George split off and formed his own company in 1919, Brough Superior – prompting the father to quip, “I suppose that makes mine the Brough Inferior.”

By the time the family called it quits in 1926 Broughs built quite a reputation on the race track.  The bike that came to be known as Old Bill original was nicknamed “Spit and Polish” due to its immaculate appearance.  Manufactured in 1922, it was powered by a 1,000-cc side-valve V-twin engine.  It made its first race appearance at Britain’s notorious Brooklands track and gave Brough its first win – though it also put Brough into the hospital that day after a tire burst.

After undergoing extensive modifications it was renamed Old Bill to honor a popular cartoon character from World War II.

The motorcycle had a checkered history, crashing at the Clipstone track, then damaged when a cast iron bathtub fell through the ceiling above during an incident in World War II.

Wild Bill changed hands several times and was restored to its original configuration – but later fitted with a sidecar for sprint races.  In fact, the bike continued to be competitively run through 1992, when it was put on display at the U.K.’s Nottingham Industrial Museum.

Another Brough currently holds the world record for most expensive motorcycle, that Superior SS100 going for $470,000.


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One Response to “World’s Most Expensive Motorcycle up for Auction”

  1. bryanrmorris says:

    Calling Jay Leno…