Past Perfect: The 1937 Brough Superior SS100

A collector's Brough Superior SS100 in original condition was once also owned by one of our writers and by George Brough himself.

| January/February 2016

  • 1937 Brough Superior SS100
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1937 Brough Superior SS100
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1937 Brough Superior SS100
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1937 Brough Superior SS100
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • Motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart with EAU 31 at the Brough Superior Owners Club Rally in 1973.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • Current owner Paul Woelbing with EAU 31 in 2015.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • The SS100's engine and chassis seem almost lost under the broad seat and gas tank. The polished rods on either side of the headstock are later add-ons, crash bars in case of a fall.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • The SS100's engine and chassis seem almost lost under the broad seat and gas tank. The polished rods on either side of the headstock are later add-ons, crash bars in case of a fall.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • SS100s with Matchless' BS/X2 990cc 50-degree V-twin first appeared in 1936 and were built to the end of 1940, the last year of Brough Superior production.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • SS100s with Matchless' BS/X2 990cc 50-degree V-twin first appeared in 1936 and were built to the end of 1940, the last year of Brough Superior production.
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • 1937 Brough Superior SS100
    Photo by Jeff Barger
  • The new SS100 pays homage to the original, but is decidedly modern.
    Photo by Jeff Barger

1937 Brough Superior SS100
Top speed:
105mph (observed)
Engine:
990cc air-cooled OHV 50-degree V-twin, 85.5mm x 85.5mm bore and stroke, 6.5:1 compression ratio, 48hp @ 4,200rpm
Weight:
440lb (200kg)
Fuel capacity:
4gal (15ltr)
Price then/now:
$692 (£140)/$150,000-$225,000

As any rider can tell you, motorcycling is a pursuit that can cause chapped lips because your lips are regularly exposed to weather and wind, especially riding with an open-faced helmet.

To protect one’s lips, many is the rider who leaves home with a stick of Carmex lip balm tucked into a pocket of his or her jeans or tank bag. Paul Woelbing of Franklin, Wisconsin, will certainly never be without a stick. That’s because he’s the grandson of Alfred Woelbing, who just happens to have invented Carmex medicated lip balm. In 1937, Woelbing developed a concoction to help alleviate cold sores. Working in his kitchen, he mixed and poured the remedy by hand. Twenty years later, he was turning out Carmex in volume in a new factory. Today, Paul and brother Eric run the company, and both are enthusiastic motorcyclists.

While Eric was intrigued by powered two-wheelers from an early age, Paul came to motorcycles later in life — his first was a 1992 Harley-Davidson Sportster, followed by a 1992 H-D Springer. “I decided I wanted to make that bike look like a 1948 Harley, which was the first year for the Panhead and last year of the Springer front end,” Paul says. “I managed to make that happen, but then I realized that rather than riding a fake old motorcycle, I could ride the real thing, and bought a 1948 Indian Chief.”



That opened the floodgates to other vintage machines, and Paul now has several in his collection. He’ll prepare two or three each riding season and add miles to them all. Paul prefers original, unrestored machines, and more than a decade ago began searching for a Brough Superior in just such condition. Paul connected with Brough Superior specialist Victor Olson of Vermont, and asked if he knew of any original Brough Superiors for sale. He did, and in 2005 Victor brokered a deal for the 1937 Brough Superior SS100 featured here.

Strikingly original, it’s a machine with an interesting back story, because it turns out that our very own contributor Alan Cathcart once owned Paul’s SS100. But then again, so too did the mastermind behind Brough Superior itself, company namesake George Brough.



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