Feeling superior in a Brough

C E ‘Titch’ Allen, OBE, BEM, founder of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, has completed his biography about his experience of the older bikes on road and in races. His book about how George Brough made cars as well as motorcycles will also soon be available, I understand.

In 1936, Motor Sport had for test a very early Brough Superior saloon, before most people knew of such a car. I drove it to report an important Gloucestershire trial, which led to a memorable trip.

First the clutch pedal went to the floor. We coasted into a garage in Chipping Norton which was just opening and they were able to rectify this. Before I had started out I had read the instruction manual and noted that the car had a reserve petrol supply so I had not taken a can of petrol. Very soon the car ran dry but I could not find the reserve petrol switch as it was buried under the boot floor. Luckily a milk float came by and the driver said he could drain petrol from it to get us to a garage. For this he used the lid of a milk churn several times; I have often wondered whether customers would notice their milk tasted odd!

It was now too late to see the start of the trial and in taking a short cut I got the Brough Superior bogged down. It took a long time to find and persuade a farmer to bring a horse and un-stick the rare motor car.

By now it was too late to see any of the trial and I decided to return to London. At a corner people were waving us down. I saw a small Ford in the ditch, realised we were about to go onto black ice so avoided braking and all was well.

Soon afterwards we were waved down by a motorcycle rider who had crashed on the slippery road. He asked if we could give him a lift; he was alright and had left his bike in somebody’s front garden. “What were you riding?” I asked. “A Brough Superior,” he replied. “And what is the make of this nice car in which you are giving me a lift?”

I told him it was a Brough Superior, of which he would not have known they had started to make cars. We heard nothing from him again on the long run; he probably thought he had concussion and had misheard!