Back to hell… Again

Words: Stan | Photographs: Gary Chapman

Owning a classic custom is a tricky business and choosing to preserve or update it is just one of the challenges. In the case of Hellbound, fate played the deciding hand.

This gorgeous old school cutdown first graced the pages of Scootering back in December 1990, when it was owned by Kevin Dearne. Although Hellbound’s irrevocably linked with his name, Kev wasn’t the project’s instigator.

“I’d been out drinking in Burton, one thing led to another and what was intended to be a quiet drink turned into quite a session,” began Kev.

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“By the end of the night there were only two of us left standing and when the pubs closed we went back to his place, which is where I found Hellbound. The paint was finished and all the bits were there to finish it, but he’d lost interest. We did a deal and the rest is history.”

Love and neglect

For its time Hellbound was a powerful piece of machinery as at its heart was a 240cc Kawasaki conversion that had been engineered by the legendary Dave Webster.

Fuel was thrown in by a Mk2 Amal and another piece of Webster’s finest, a DJ expansion pipe, took care of fumes, but not necessarily noise! “I never bothered finding out too much about the scooter before I bought it,” said Kev.

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“I was more concerned with riding it. Having pretty much thrown it together, I set off for Aberystwyth without a care in the world. Unfortunately, I soon found out that I should have been more patient with the build. Every time I stopped something else had fallen off, and by the time I arrived the number plate was hanging on by a couple of threads. The first thing I did was buy Loctite and a load of fastenings at the parts fair!”

Over the next few years Kev and Hellbound became a regular sight at rallies across the country. What many didn’t know was that he was also a keen motorcyclist and it was whilst riding one of these that he was involved in accident.

Left with life-changing injuries, Kev had bigger priorities than scootering and Hellbound passed into the hands of Jeremy Gent. After some happy years of riding, real life intervened and Hellbound fell into disuse. It’s a familiar story and were it not for the intervention of Daz ‘Willo’ Willis, Hellbound could have been lost forever.

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New life

“I have a real passion for 1980s and 1990s customs, and over the past few years I’ve managed to assemble a small collection of original machines,” explained Daz.

“I knew Jeremy had Hellbound tucked away somewhere, but it took a lot of persuading that I could give it a good home.”

As Hellbound had been taken off the road due to lack of use rather than breakdown, it had never been stripped and was surprisingly complete. “Time hadn’t been kind to the chrome, but the paint was pretty sound,” said Daz.

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“A number of classic customs have been reborn over the past few years and I understand that some of them were too far gone to preserve, but I prefer to keep my machines in their original specification. The big attraction for Hellbound was that it could be easily returned to its original condition, and from the outset I was keen to re-use as many parts as possible.”

With this in mind Daz stripped Hellbound, contracted specialist vehicle restorers Marque Restore in Coventry to re-plate the weary chrome, and sent the panels away for a sensitive restoration to his body specialist. “I’m not going to name him because he’s done really good work for me in the past,” said Daz, “On this occasion he just didn’t get the brief and by the time I realised what was going on the original paint was beyond recovery.”

Having recovered the frame to safety, Daz now faced the choice of whether to create something new, restore to original specification or refresh the original scheme.

“I spoke to Matt at I-paint and we agreed that the best way forward was to refresh the original design. I think he’s done a fantastic job of retaining Hellbound’s integrity, but at the same time created something more vibrant and interesting.”

One subtle difference in paint is a ‘rebranding’ of the cutdown’s name. “Given everything I’ve been through to complete it, I thought that ‘Back to Hell… Again’ was more appropriate,” he laughed.

Even though Daz’s plan had been thwarted in terms of paint, he was determined to re-use as much of the original machine as possible. A good example of this is the engine, which remains pretty much in its 1980’s spec.

“The main change is the carb,” said Daz. “I replaced the Amal with a Dellorto, which is much easier to work with. For safety’s sake I’ve replaced the rear shock and I also fitted a long-range tank, but otherwise pretty much everything has been re-used, except pike nuts. I can’t stand them!”

There’s no doubt that Hellbound’s rebirth has been far from straightforward, but the finished product is stunning, more so than Kev had ever intended. It’s almost as if there was a guiding force beyond the project. Perhaps it’s true that the devil does indeed look after his own…

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