The Kawasaki Tombstone Vaquero

What do you want on your bagger?

We pulled the motor out and had it powdercoated, then sent it off to be diamond cut. We also ported and polished the heads, then built a custom exhaust.Shooters Images

I loved the movie Tombstone and wanted to do something with it on a motorcycle. I would normally build a big-wheel bagger but wanted to mix it up a little; when I first saw the Kawasaki Vaquero I thought someday I would like to build one and completely customize it. Eventually the two ideas came together and off I went.

The project started with me thinking how I would lay the bike out and how I would want the paint to look. After that the bike was completely torn down to the frame. I started fabricating parts for the Vaquero since there are not a lot of aftermarket parts available for it.

I spend a lot of time showing people the different things going on in the paint. The main thing people ask about is the lettering on the fairing.Shooters Images

As the bike started taking shape I knew I wanted to add something different in the paint while keeping the Tombstone theme, but making it a little different. I love skulls and reapers so I thought, "Let's throw them all in there and see what happens." I went to my painter Ryan, and told him what I was thinking. He started to put some of his ideas into it and then we laid out what scenes from the movie we wanted to use that fans would recognize. Then the work began.

My pale horse is a little different than the one in the movie.Shooters Images

I build bikes out of my garage and when I’m doing it I have the help of my wife Kristy as well as my boxer, Emalee, who supervises the work. So as the paint started to be applied, I remembered that the movie had a dog in a few different scenes but I didn’t want to use that dog so I used my boxer instead; on the saddlebag we moved Doc’s girlfriend back from the table and put my boxer in front of her next to Doc Holliday.

The paint is Pearl White and sepia.Shooters Images

Like I said, I love skulls and reapers, so we decided to skull out the faces of the characters and my boxer as well. On the other side of the bike, on the saddlebag, we put Wyatt Earp at the bar smoking a cigar just like in the movie when he is acquiring the table at the casino, but we put the reaper smoking a cigar as his reflection in the mirror. While Ryan was painting each piece, we made sure to change it but keep it recognizable too. When looking at the finished product, fans of the movie can always tell who is who.

For as much detail as there is in the paint, my goal was to keep the rest of the build pretty straightforward so as not to distract from the artwork.Shooters Images
I couldn’t be happier with Ryan Townsend’s art on my bike.Shooters Images
When I ran into Dana from Siouxicide Choppers in Sturgis and saw his bars, I knew that was what I wanted. He reworked my stock bars and was able to get the bend and height perfect for the bike so the bars did not make contact with the fairing.Shooters Images
We had to put in some of the most repeated lines from the movie in the scoop, where it says, “I’m your Huckleberry.” The seat’s backrest has been hand-tooled to say, “Say when.”Shooters Images
When you go around the bike you’ll see that everything ties together. It was a Western movie with lots of gunshots, so you will see the bullet valve stems, the Hole Shot wheels, the pistols on the fairing, the machine gun bars, etc.Shooters Images