"21st century" Hesketh 24 promised
A new, series of limited edition Hesketh Motorcycles are on the way, or so the firm's current owner, Paul Sleeman, is promising. The bikes will be available from February 2014 and offered at an unspecified price.
Sounds simple enough, but since its inception in 1980, the Hesketh project has been riding a very rocky road and never quite got up to the speed it needed to form a sustainable company, and there's not much reason to believe that this attempt will be any different.
But we can hope.
Founded by Alexander, the 3rd Lord Hesketh, the eponymous motorcycle was intended to pick up pretty much where the Vincent left off, that being a long-distance gentleman's tourer brought up to date and more or less single-handedly revitalising the British motorcycle industry.
Chronic technical problems with the engine and transmission, a lack of funding, the absence of suitable business partners, a recession or two, the need for a viable assembly plant, plus a robbery, all added to the Hesketh woes. But the dream chugged along, first under Lord Hesketh, then in the control of ex-Hesketh Development Engineer, Mick Broom, and more recently in the hands of Paul Sleeman (about whom we know almost nothing).
This latest incarnation, looking suspiciously more like an artist's rendition than a bona-fide working example, is "running 1950 cc 56 degree V-twin engine putting out around 120 bhp".
The suspension is courtesy of Ohlins. The brakes are by Beringer. And carbon-fibre wheels are by Brock. The livery, incidentally, emulates James Hunt’s F1 Grand Prix winning ‘24’ car .
Further models are said to be planned. But you can't but help wonder if this announcement is simply a short-term project aiming to utilise a shed load of old stock components rather than an ambition to bounce this particular ball any further down the road, or if Sleeman is (pardon the pun) the new Broom he needs to be.
This isn't the first time that a new Hesketh has been promised. It's like a stubborn corpse that won't stay completely dead and keeps popping up from the deep every once in a while and waiting for someone to drag it out and bury it decently.
But don't get us wrong. We hope that Sleeman surprises us all. And good luck to him if he does. Either way, it would be a shame to waste all those boxes of "new old stock" Hesketh parts that must be kicking around somewhere. There must easily be enough bit to make up, say, 24 bikes.
— The Third Man
Copyright Sump Publishing 2013