It’s tantalizing to consider the melding of two historically British marques—luxury automobile maker Aston Martin and legendary motorcycle builders Brough Superior. Both brands have enjoyed great highs along the way—Aston Martin was founded in 1913 and Brough Superior in 1919.
Aston Martin’s heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s. It built successful race cars while bathing in the reflected glory of James Bond driving the DB5 in Goldfinger. A short bio of Roger Daltrey on the back cover of the 1967 Happy Jack long-player by The Who noted, “Like James Bond, he drives an Aston Martin.” Further, since 1982, Aston Martin has been the Motor Car Manufacturer and Repairer for The Prince of Wales. Royalty, rock, and a secret agent—Aston Martin gets around.
Today, Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings owns Aston Martin. In 1947, Aston Martin acquired the Lagonda sports car brand, which dates back to 1899. Lagonda is due to be revived in 2021 as a luxury electric automobile brand.
The original Brough Superior enjoyed a relatively short run, from 1919 to 1940, when the war effort halted production permanently. During that time, Brough Superior established a reputation for quality at a premium price. As such, production was naturally limited, hitting a peak of 226 motorcycles in 1927. T.E. Lawrence of Lawrence of Arabia fame owned seven Broughs, with an eighth on the way when he died from injuries in an accident. Brough Superior also built 85 automobiles in the late 1930s.
The Brough Superior name sat generally fallow until 2008, when British motorcycle businessman Mark Upham purchased the international rights to the name. Five years later, Upham brought in noted French motorcycle designer Thierry Henriette. A new version of the iconic SS100 was the result, built in Brough Superior’s factory in Toulouse, France. Currently, Brough Superior is building three models of motorcycles. Today, Henriette is the Brough Superior CEO.
That brings us to the AMB 001 by Aston Martin and Brough Superior, the first motorcycle in history to sport the Aston Martin wings.
Succinctly put, the AMB 001 combines Brough Superior engineering with Aston Martin design.
“This is a fascinating and very popular project for myself and my team,” said Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman. “The opportunity to collaborate with Brough Superior has given us the chance to bring our own unique views on how beauty and engineering can combine to create a highly emotive piece of vehicle design.”
Against expectations, the AMB 001 by Aston Martin and Brough Superior is being marketed as a track bike—a €108,000 track bike. There will be 100 examples, and the AMB 001 is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of this year.
When faced with the claim that this is a motorcycle with performance chops, our attention quickly turns from form to function.
Powering the AMB 001 is an 88-degree DOHC V-twin that displaces 997cc via a decidedly oversquare combustion chamber—94mm bore and 71.8mm stroke. The powerplant gets efficient semi-dry-sump lubrication, a six-speed transmission, APTC slipper clutch, and final chain drive—all good.
Claimed maximum power output is 180 horsepower, and that is achieved through the magic of compressed air. A variable geometry turbocharger with a low-inertia turbine runs through an intercooler that Brough Superior claims reduces turbo lag.
Next up is the chassis, which uses the motor as a load-bearing component. The solid backbone of the main frame is CNC-machined, while the rear subframe is structural carbon fiber. The swingarm is also CNC-machined, and has a linkage system to assist the fully adjustable shock. Titanium helps flesh out the chassis.
The Fior fork is a double-wishbone design—another supercar-inspired detail—for increased stability and precise feel in corners from the Michelin Power Slick Evo tires mounted on machined forged aluminum wheels. There is no front-end diving when braking into corners, as the chassis is unfettered when the monobloc calipers go into action.
There are aerodynamic wings attached to the front cowl, inspired by the S-Curve on the front of an Aston Martin. Not just for show, they provide aerodynamic downforce.
Many body parts, including some hidden and structural components, are made from carbon fiber. All these weight-saving techniques leave the Aston Martin Brough Superior AMB 001 with a claimed dry weight just shy of 400 pounds.
Once you accept the performance credentials of the AMB 001, you can turn your attention to Aston Martin Racing’s traditional colors—Stirling Green and Lime Essence, contrasting themselves with plenty of black paint.
The seat is glaringly spare, with the choice of Oxford leather, which is unusual for the track. Taking another step toward unfettered indulgence, the grips are leather with matching stitching. This is an influence from the Aston Martin design team, as it more resembles the seating and tactile feel you get in a high-performance luxury car.
The Aston Martin Racing supercars contribute the logos used on the fuel tank. They are laser-cut from thin metal sheets, and are covered by multiple layers of lacquer.
For those who complain modern sport motorcycles are too angular, the AMB 001 by Aston Martin and Brough Superior has a naturally flowing organic shape. There is a carbon fiber strip, inspired by the side strake on Aston Martin cars, that bisects the dash, splits the top of the tank, and under the seat, before exiting out the rear. Each AMB 001 is individually numbered, and on the carbon fiber strip over the tank, you’ll find your position in the 100-motorcycle series.
“This is what we believe a cutting-edge motorcycle should be and we are very proud to see the Aston Martin wings on a motorcycle for the first time,” Reichman said. “In addition to applying the skills we have developed for cars such as the groundbreaking Aston Martin Valkyrie, we have also been able to bring our special expertise in the traditional craft techniques to this project. The finished product is a truly beautiful motorcycle; a design and engineering work of art.”
“Aston Martin may be 106 years old, but the forward momentum of this company is inspiring, for every area of the business, but for Design in particular,” Reichman explains. “The same people who work on the design of our cars have worked on the AMB 001. These people are absolute experts and have delivered many of the special project cars that we have designed. Unlike at other car companies, our designers have the full breadth of experience, and I think this is showcased in this aspirational bike.”
This is not a motorcycle for the aficionado. The AMB 001 by Aston Martin and Brough Superior is here to satisfy and challenge the connoisseur.