A whole lot of British marques came about in the motorcycle industry over last century and today only a handful of them remain. This was largely due to the JAPANESE ONSLAUGHT ON THE GLOBAL MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY during the seventies and eighties that saw several classic British motorcycle companies eventually shutting shop. Right then, the wealthy aristocrat Lord Alexander Hesketh, a Formula One team owner, decided to start his own motorcycle company and thus gave birth to Hesketh Motorcycles in Daventry, Northamptonshire, England, in 1981. It was always his dream to start his own motorcycle company and he was looking for the opportunity since mid-seventies.
Having mingled long enough in the Formula One pit, Lord’s Hesketh had met engineering genius Harry Weslake in 1977, who by then had carved a niche for himself in the automobile and motorcycle industry having worked on Nortons, Triumphs, Jaguars, Bentleys and many more iconic companies and was known for developing race-winning machines. Lord Hesketh was quick to commission Weslake and his aide, Ron Valentine, to develop a 992cc OHC 8-valve air-cooled 90-degree V-twin engine for the first motorcycle that Hesketh Motorcycles would eventually produce later in 1981, called the V1000. Interestingly, the 900cc V-twin engine was chosen largely because the team believed the DUCATI 900SS was the most established and well engineered European motorcycle back then plying on the British roads and that is the one they had to beat to establish Hesketh Motorcycles.
Lord Hesketh’s Formula One outfit had some notable achievements and was responsible to build a race-car that gave James Hunt his victory in the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix. So, a lot of people were having hopes that the Hesketh V1000 would be a reborn Vincent and could help revive the ailing British motorcycle industry. Designed by John Mockett, who later went on to craft most of Triumph’s new range of motorcycle’s under John Bloor’s direction, the V1000 was acknowledged for its classic British motorcycle styling and the grunty V-twin engine. Although, a highly erratic gearbox and a plethora of niggles surrounding it, the V1000 failed to impress the motorcycle world and Hesketh Motorcycles was forced to shut down in 1982.