This 1000cc motorcycle was the prized possession of T E Lawrence, better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, and the machine on which he was killed in May of 1935. Lawrence’s Brough Superior was tailor-made by George Brough himself and cost 170 pounds in 1932. This was the seventh Brough that Lawrence had owned. He named each in succession ‘George 1’ to ‘George VII’, and also referred to some of them, including this model, as ‘Boanerges’ (Son of Thunder).
The Brough Superior was the fastest and most expensive machine on the road at the time. It easily reached speeds of over 100 mph and was at the cutting edge of 1930’s design. The motorcycle was Lawrence’s constant companion on the deserted country roads of pre-war Britain. Long distance visits to friends such as Winston Churchill or Lady Astor were achieved in record time. ‘It is the silkiest thing I have ever ridden…’ Lawrence would famously say.
In May 1935 Lawrence was riding the Brough back home from Bovington in Dorset to his nearby cottage at Clouds Hill. Suddenly he came upon two errand boys on bicycles, swerved to avoid them and pitched over the handlebars onto the road. His head struck the ground and he sustained terrible injuries, which would claim his life six days later. The motorcycle was only slightly damaged in the accident and was returned to the factory to be repaired by George Brough.
This is a clip from the opening of the film Lawrence of Arabia that depicts T.E. Lawrence racing through the English countryside and ultimately crashing as described above. It’s a good sequence and worth watching. Just skip ahead to around 4:30…