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Hesketh are motorcycles that have been in production since 1980.
Production started in Towcester, Northamptonshire, and, via a circuitous
route over the years, has returned there.
1980 Having been involved with his own Formula 1 car, with James Hunt for
many years, Lord Alexander Hesketh launched his own motorcycle.
Although it did not work out that way, it was intended to be a high-class,
high-speed tourer with modern features, designed to offer the best quality
possible. It had a 992cc 90-degree V-twin engine with an almost horizontal
front cylinder. It had a massive crankshaft, gear-and-chain drive to the
dohc, opening four valves per cylinder, twin carburettors and a LucasRITA electronic system. With no kickstart fitted, starting was electric
only and the primary transmission was by gears to a five-speed gearbox
with chain final-drive. This bulky and complicated unit fitted into a tubular
frame, and although the whole machine was large, the finish was excellent
and the overall result seemed impressive. Unexpectely there were very many
problems including a noisy, leaky engine and poor gear change plus a host
of other minor troubles.
1981 The machine eventually went on view but as it still suffered from
many unacceptable problems, and was, by now, very expensive, it did not
go into production.
1982 Finally, as the V1000, the first machines went on sale, as
the first British bike with four valves per cylinder and twin camshafts
(although commonplace in Japanese machines). However, the motorcycles still
had too many problems and no special technical features. By now, the firm
was in serious financial difficulty, and in June the Official Receiver
was called in. Only 139 machines had been made.
1983 Having reformed, the company produced the Vampire. This touring
version with fairing failed to revive interest, and production had stopped
by the end of the year, with only forty machines having been made.
Development continued under Mick Broom until the end of 1986, and the company name changed to
Hesleydon, with construction by Mocheck in London.
Subsequently development continued, with the machines being built to order,
where they had begun, in Towcester.
Development Engineering has continued to provide support for Hesketh
motorcycles, and also built around a dozen new motorcycles a year.
Note: Enthusiasts can find further information at the Hesketh
Owners' Club - heskethownersclub.org.uk.