Vintage Workshop
Services for Brough Superior motorcycles and their contemporaries

one of the strangest things that ever happened to me...the story of the Spagforth Lightning!

Well, if you came here from the guestbook of the BS Club, you might or might not have followed the debate about the Spagforth lightning in the end of the year 2001. It went on like this: I have just inherited a 1931 Spagforth lightning from an old uncle. it looks very much like an old brought and I have been told that it was built by employees of the brought factory. I don't want it so it's for sale. £500.

I havenít heard anyone mention Spagforth Lightning for a good 10 years. I have one, I bought mine in Nottingham from an old bloke who claimed it was an old brook lands racer. It has a matchless V twin engine very rudimentary telescopic forks, and goes like the clappers. Has anyone else got one? Are they worth anything?
Justin Dillon

I'm still looking for a  JAP 100. I haven't been offered one at all, at any price. I will genuinly pay the going rate. Please e-mail me. By the way, don't offer me a Spagforth Lightning.  I have 3 already! 
Nick Poll

Curiosity got the better of me and I started searching the internet. I finally found one link:

Please have a look at the seizing story Ray is telling here and dream up how the Spagforth must have looked!

Of course, I was disappointed by the missing picture on this web page, so I wrote a short e-mail to Ray (see right side) .

And please read his almost unbelievable answer as well.

Hello Ray,
do you know how many out there are desperately waiting for a picture of the incredible Spagforth lightning?
Have you watched the debate going on in the guestbook of the Brough Superior Club ( ?
Kind regards Wilfried

Thanks for the Email.
I know about the problems finding pictures of the Spagforth. I sorted mine out and was just ready to scan them in when the scanner broke.... Bizzarre.
I packed them up and took them to a friends house to scan, but when I got there I found I had packed the wrong ones. It didn't seem appropriate to put a picture of my wife's Gpz 500 up there. By the time I got home to collect the pictures, they had gone.
My daughter said she saw the tortoise with them, but that can't be right ... surely.


I found all of this still quite amusing, but a few weeks later, things took a quite unexpected turn, see my message to Ray.

Now, I am sorry if reading this long message has sent you to sleep, but I was really struck by what had happened. And the travel in and out of a foreign country at night had surely helped to undermine my mental constitution.

After sending the picture to Ray and telling him my story, I received the answer given below:

Fantastic !

Do you have any objection to me using the piccie and the Email
dialog on my website ?


But the odd thing is that from this day I never heard from Ray. I wonder what has happened to him.

At least his website still exists...

Dear Ray,

thanks for your amusing story about the pictures of the Spagforth.
I did not quite know what to answer to your message then, but in the meantime the whole thing has taken an amazing twist, and I think I have a real surprise for you now:

Living not too far from the Czech border I have a few friends over there.
Last week-end I have been to Plzen, and have seen my good friend Jiri Havliceck, who has been a vintage motorcycle enthusiast for the best part of his long life. (I do not know if you are aware that pre-war Czechoslowakia was a real speed merchants mekka, with a lot of racing events being held) When I mentioned the Spagforth story to him, I noticed his air getting slightly bewildered. "I am not so sure this is all plucked out of the air.... I seem to remember I heard that name being mentioned before ... ... I even seem to recall the view of those golden letters on a motorcycle tank! But where the hell that was...just cannot remember!" were his comments.

For the next half hour our conversation turned to other things, but Jiri seemed a bit absent-minded, until he suddenly apologized and came back with a dusty box of old photographs. "If it was not a dream of mine I have once been sent a photograph of such a bike. It must be in this box..." Sorting the pictures took another hour or so, as there were quite a few interesting ones among these!
I felt good old Jiri, who has always had a vivid imagination, had just succumbed to your seizing story of the Spagforth, but I felt something like an electric shock flashing through my nerves when he finally produced a picture of a big V-twin motorcycle bearing the unmistakable tank inscription "Spagforth Lightning"!
With a dry throat I asked him where he got the picture from. "Yes, now I remember, somebody offered me this bike many years ago. Think he said it was in very original condition, but I turned it down, as I had never heard of this make before..."

To cut the story short, we did not find any documents that would have permitted to trace the owner of the bike. But to conclude with, Jiri said "If it is so important to you, I can at least give you the picture. Yes, take it!"
Jiri did not know in what state of mind his gift would drive me. On my way home, thinking of the strange adventures you had with the pictures of your Spagforth, I kept reaching in my jacket's inner pocket to see if it was still there. I nearly collided with an oncoming truck when I had another look at the picture just to make sure it had not vanished in the meantime. I was all sweat and heartbeat at the customs fearing they might find and confiscate it.
Having returned back home late night in a quite shaken state I almost lacked the courage to put it on my scanner. I turned the power on, bright light flashed out under the lid and... NO, IT DID NOT EXPLODE or something of that kind!
I could hardly wait for the picture to appear on the screen, but there it was. I drew a copy onto a diskette at once. You never know when your hard disk will fail! And I had second thoughts. Better do another diskette. And burn it onto a CD. Store it in a different place. Nobody will believe me if I said I HAD a picture of a Spagforth Lightning!

Do you know that story by Tolstoi about a man who starts out poor and hopeless but then makes a fortune based on a theft and murder he committed to get him out of desperation? He absolutely believes in a prophecy which tells him he will have to pay for his deed on his 70th birthday. He fears this day for all of his life, but he gets the real big blow when this day goes past without anything happening. This is when he realises there is absolutely no justice in the world, and this is the beginning of his real punishment.

Well I started feeling a bit like this man. Would rather have seen the scanner go up in smoke taking the picture along with it. But nothing happened...
I am not sure whether you can understand my troubled feelings.

I am very reluctant to send you the scanned picture, but on the other hand I cannot really keep it to myself. So here I go, and I hope it will not do too much damage to your mental health.

Yours confusedly

Be that how it may, I do not want to withhold the picture from you. I am not yet sure what might arise from putting it on the internet, but here it is.

NB: if you decide to do further investigations on this topic - please do not hold me responsible for any weird consequences that might arise !!!


Back to HOME page - over to my SS100 replica pages

If you have any comments please send an e-mail to
(sorry, this is not a clickable 'mailto:' hyperlink. If you want to write me, please type my address in your mailer. )