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The 1939 Brough Superior SS 100 offered exemplary engineering and construction. See more motorcycle pictures.

As the son of an early English motorcycle manufacturer, George Brough branched out on his own after World War I to build what would later be described as "the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles" -- the 1938 Brough Superior SS 100 motorcycle.

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Brough motorcycles were expensive, well-finished machines compiled largely from proprietary components, most notably a 60-cubic-inch J.A.P. V-twin engine.

An early example was called the SS 80, so named for its guaranteed top speed of 80 mph. Switching from flathead to overhead-valve engines brought the SS 100 in 1924.

Though smaller V-twins and even a four-cylinder sidecar model with an Austin automotive drivetrain were offered, the company's legacy lies with its big V-twins.

The exemplary engineering and construction for which Brough Superiors were famous can be seen in this example's leading-link front suspension with driver-adjustable damping, nickel-plated side panels on the fuel tank, foot-operated gearshift, contoured saddlebags, and plunger rear suspension.

Though renowned primarily for their fine craftsmanship, Brough Superiors also held many speed records during the 1920s and '30s, culminating in a 1937 run of nearly 170 mph on -- of course -- a modified version.

In the annals of motorcycle history, Brough Superior will always be aligned with famed military figure and writer T.E. Lawrence -- Lawrence of Arabia. Being a personal friend of George Brough, Lawrence owned several Brough Superiors, and sadly, died on one.

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