What happens when a well-heeled Lord decides to build the Rolls Royce of motorcycles to sock it to the Japs and put Britain back at the top of the two-wheeled heap? Prices were reassuringly high, as was the promise of build quality so it had to be good, didn’t it? The reality was, unsurprisingly, different and the Hesketh never did make it into the list of all time greats, however a band of loyal followers keep the name alive and the type in constant development too.
Dave Sharp is a semi-retired, 62-year-old, science and technology consultant to the government and is now a loyal “Hesketeer”. He is a keen cyclist, having just completed the London to Brighton run, but he also has a few interesting bikes in the garage, having previously restored a 1950 BSA Golden Flash, a 1956 Norton Dominator, both completed to a very high standard. These sit alongside a 1925 “Oily Rag” Rex Acme, completely unrestored, but regularly run and kept in its original condition as David feels restoration isn’t always the best option. The most recent addition to the biking family is the bright red Hesketh V1000, a machine once again brought back to life, improved upon, and ridden as often as time allows.
“The Hesketh was acquired in 1988” Dave, now the press and public relations officer for the Hesketh owners club, recalled, “In an idle moment when my Norton Dominator restoration was drawing to a close, I mapped out the specification for my next project. In summary it was simple; I fancied something big, red and British.
This was purely theoretical but, as fate would have it, I met Mick Broom, the original R&D manager for the project, when he came to live in the village. At that time I had admired the Hesketh team’s efforts from a distance but, quite frankly, the cost was out of my league and the press reports were not encouraging. Not only that but I’m into old British bikes, aren’t I?
As time passed I found myself ‘helping’ Mick with various projects as a kind of therapeutic counter to my own business world which is structured, slow, paper-bound, whereas Mick’s is the complete opposite. On one occasion I was asked to search out some bits from a shed away from the workshop and there discovered an early V1000 minus engine. Rummaging further, a shrink-wrapped engine was unearthed. The engine was the correct build standard and, as a total package, it was certainly big, red and British.
Back to the workshop and a little probing. It emerged that this machine was one of the four production prototypes, which appear in that famous picture of the line up at Easton Neston with the development team. The black one is kept by Lord Hesketh, the green one is in the Geeson museum, the red (unlined) bike was scrapped and this was the red (lined) machine used at the April 1980 press launch. With a history like that no restoration challenge was too great. My offer for the project was accepted, funding having been arranged courtesy Mr. Barclay and the sale of my beloved Ariel Golden Arrow, I bit the bullet.
Unexpectedly, delivery of the collection of bits was in stages. At this point you should understand that Mick passes my house to get to his. Everything I was expecting arrived in one hit but as time passed more and more bits were dropped in, which being non-standard would be more use to me than him, said Mick. Despite the huge collection of bits now gathered in my garage I still had to locate carburettors, oil cooler, fork yokes, rear shockers, all those little details that help complete a project.
Assembly was fairly straightforward but the end result was a very sorry looking giant of a machine raring to go. The exhaust note was rough and deafening and that engine; buckets and nails spring to mind. Documentation is essential in any restoration and in the case of a prototype good evidence of what is meant to be correct is an absolute must. Fortunately, in preparing for the press launch, a fine set of photographs was taken by a freelance photographer and several magazines, which, together with my own set of close up photographs of Lord Hesketh’s prototype machine, helped set the restoration target.
So, the restoration for real began in earnest with an engine strip. My hopes of the shrink-wrapped engine having been rebuilt were soon shattered, and many problems had to be dealt with over a period of a year or so. All castings were bead blast cleaned after sealing bearings and masking machined surfaces. Problems associated with restoring the rolling chassis were mostly due to the result of having been a development hack and the negative effects of the storage conditions in the shed. Damp had caused the nickel-plating to lift. A word of warning; replating a rusted frame is a costly, time-consuming process and seldom gives real satisfaction. Go by recommendation and don’t spare the pennies, a copper base is essential. Also watch those little drain holes after plating as they leak corrosive goo for weeks.
Rebuilding the aluminium fuel tank was tricky. The front had been bashed in to clear huge experimental fork yokes, which had been milled from solid alloy. Mick gave me several sets of proprietary yokes to choose from, the final selection being based on getting a good fit of the headlamp cowl to the fabricated instrument panel. With the yokes selected this determined the necessary tank clearance. Sculpting was easy; I assembled the forks and tank to the frame, stuck a huge lump of body filler on the tank, covered it with cling film and swung the forks to the stops thereby compressing the filler. This formed the basis from which the final shape was developed to match the original design.
I’m now beginning to enjoy riding the Hesketh. Its tall, but handles well and once I replace the old Dunlops it should be even more sure footed.”
Broom Development Engineering – Tel 01280 841 842
Hesketh owners club – Tel 0121 550 3632
1982 Hesketh V1000 SPECIFICATIONS
- Price: £1500 (£4495 new in 1981)
- Value now (est): £8000-12000
- Power: 82bhp
- Torque: 71ft-lb
- Top speed: 114.2mph
- Dry weight: 250kg
- Colours: Red, Black
- Fuel: 23litres
- Rake/trail: 27deg/95.25mm
- Seat height: 838mm
- Wheelbase: 1511mm
- Engine: air-cooled 992cc (95 x 70mm), four-stroke 90deg V-twin. 2 x 36mm DellOrto carbs. 5-gears. Chain final drive
- Chassis: Tubular steel open cradle frame, 38mm Marzocchi telescopic forks, twin Marzocchi oil-damped rear shocks with adjustable preload
- Brakes: 279mm discs with 2-piston Brembo calipers front, 279mm disc 2-piston Brembo caliper rear
- Tyres: 110/90 x 19 front, 130/90 x 17 rear
- Hesketh respond well to being ridden regularly.
- Join the Hesketh Owners Club to learn about the bikes and enjoy a good social environment
- Keep the carbs balanced and the battery in good condition to avoid flipping the sprag clutch
- A gel battery kept on an Optimate works and stops the clock fully draining the power
- Astralite rims have been known to split –these are now unavailable new but a simple mod avoids the problem
- Reduce chain snatch by softening the rear hub cush drive rubbers, the owners club supply the drawing for a DIY solution
- Check is any intened buy has the essential upgrades such as the EN10 package and other spares, these are all available from Broom Development Engineering but at a price.
- The club also produces consumables such as silencers and flyscreens
Hesketh V1000 Gallery