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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Extremely Rare 3-Wheeled British Motorcycle Heads to Bonhams Auction


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

We’re pretty confident in saying this one of the rarest motorcycles we’ve ever heard of. It is called the Brough Superior Austin Four, and we can’t call it “the rarest we’ve ever seen,” because frankly none of us have actually seen one of these incredible bikes in person. This April, one lucky, wealthy buyer will make this bike a part of their personal collection.
Built from 1932 to 1934 by Brough Superior of Nottingham, U.K., the Austin Four was so-named because of its use of four-cylinder, water-cooled engine from an Austin 7 automobile. The 797cc engine sent power through an Austin 7 gearbox to a pair of rear wheels. The twin rear-wheel setup was designed for sidecar use, as shown below.


The Austin Four was designed to be more of a casual cruiser at the height of the Great Depression—not an ideal time to offer a luxury toy like an exotic sidecar-motorcycle. In 1932, you could buy an actual Austin 7 car for £27 less. So only ten of these motorcycles we’re built.


Of the ten, only eight we’re thought to have survived, but then another bike was found near Cornwall. This is one of the other remaining bikes, having been discovered in a barn in Bodmin, Devon.

The bike is in original condition with a considerable amount of wear-and-tear. It will need a full restoration if its future buyer wants to actually ride it, though leaving bikes in original condition has been a growing trend in the vintage car world.

 This is just one of many incredible motorcycles coming to the Bonhams collectors’ motorcycle auction in April of 2016.

In addition to its sheer small numbers, what has made the Brough Superior so coveted in the collector motorcycle world was it being the bike-of-choice for T.E. Lawrence a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia.” He owned eight Brough Superiors, and died from injuries sustained in a crash while riding the seventh. The final one was on order.