Blood Harmony: Adam Brinkworth Q&A

Cars Bikes

Adam Brinkworth is one of London’s most well regarded three-dimensional designers. He is also a devotee of interesting cars and motorcycles.

But those two statements don’t really do justice to the multi-layered character that is Brink 66.

Marnie Brinkworth, in the passenger seat, and her dad sit inside one of his cars
The Brinkworths get ready to go for a drive.

The London-based figurehead of Brinkworth Design has a uniquely visceral relationship with machinery – one threaded through with an aesthetic informed as much by the culture of skateboarding as it is mid-century automotive Americana. 

At the centre of a broad and diverse community of people bringing colour and creativity to cars and motorbikes, Adam lives and breathes a positive credo that is infectious. It’s as if cars and motorbikes are elements of his humanity – and in these times of dread uncertainty and shifting cultural sands that is a very useful tool with which to negotiate your way through life. 

Adam has passed this love of cars and bikes, as well as the aesthetic thread, on to his daughter Marnie, who is 24. His dad had given it to him – and so it goes. Human and machine are fundamentally interrelated – and the Brinkworth’s story is a demonstration of how human relationships are indeed bonded through the viscera of steel and oil. 

We spent a great day with Brinkworth 66 & 96 – 30 years apart in vintage but bonded by love and metal.

What is it about cars and motorbikes that moves you?

 A big part of it is about the movement and the fluidity. I’m an old transition skater and riding motorbikes, and to a lesser extent driving cars, you get this feeling of centrifugal force. When you ride a motorbike, you get that fluid movement in a series of bends.

It is the same as pumping a pipe and it’s the same when you are sliding or drifting. It’s like power sliding a skateboard. When I go flat track racing and slide the back of the bike round, it feels like and reminds me of that exact same sort of body communication.

You as a human are integrated with something, everything is fluid and there’s power and energy that you’re interacting with. There’s something magic about that.

Adam Brinkworth standing at an open door.
Adam Brinkworth opened his doors for an afternoon with Influx.

So you do have new stuff too?

The (Ducati) Desmosedici is the only real sort of newer, expensive piece of kit I own. I traded a lot of Ducati bikes until I could afford this bike. But that thing is terrifying. Death Spray Customs painted it for me and that adds to the horror. When you make a mistake on that thing you are in real trouble. I have crashed it a lot, mostly because I keep running out of talent. That bike is very uncompromising and does the thrill and the centrifugal force of running round a tarmac track in an incredible way. 

Thing is though, some of my other bikes are just so much more fun. The Flat Track BSA bike is particularly special. You climb on it, and it is an engine that just wants to go. I like machines that just want to go, go, go. In cars it’s usually six-cylinder engines, or V8s or V12s. And in bikes, it is normally twins. Because as soon as I get to a four-cylinder bike, even though the Desmo is a V4, it is still a bit tractor like, and maybe that is good.

Twins feel much more analogue to me, much less sophisticated and direct. The difference between cars and bikes is ultimately that you get to climb all over bikes. There is a real physicality to them. That’s why I play the drums, too – you use your arms and legs and really engage.

A beautiful black Ford Mustang.
A beautiful black Ford Mustang.

What came first for you: cars or bikes?

I didn’t start riding bikes until I was much older. When I was a kid, my dad was in a coma on two occasions because of motorbikes. He was like, ‘don’t go riding a bike, it’s dangerous shit’. He was actually in a coma for six weeks just before he married my mum.

He was a West London mod, and got smashed off a roundabout on his scooter. And then in the 1970s he finally plucked up courage to get a bike again. It was a Honda 250 Dream. I remember when it was brand new he took me to school on the back of it. When I got onto the back of that thing, I was like, oh my goodness. I remember holding onto it, thinking, ‘Jesus, that was exciting!’ He didn’t come home that very day. He got knocked off and was in another coma.

So when my mates were 16 and getting Fizzie 50s, my old man said to me he’d give me a grand if I waited to get a car. So I got a little Mini. Until I left college, I had a 40 quid MZ, and I hadn’t passed my test. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s when I got divorced, and I had a mate who said I should get a Ducati. It was a real designer’s cliche!

So I did, I got my test and then I went to Mallory Park the next week. That was a shock! I couldn’t ride it, it was terrifying! I remember driving it out of the Ducati garage and I went straight over the handlebars at the first set of lights, because I wasn’t used to the brakes! There is something about getting used to different bikes until they really feel natural, and I love that.

You have some madly difficult bikes don’t you? Why is that?

I like machines that you have to nurture a relationship with. They mirror how you’re feeling. Again, it’s the same with skateboarding. I can tell how I am feeling by the way I am riding a skateboard. I get on some days, and everything is fluid, and if I am a bit arrogant, I am going down. If I am feeling a bit sensitive, I am going down. It is the same with a motorbike.

When I get on one of my weird bikes I’m thinking  ‘this is bloody stupid, no one would ride this!’. But if you are on it for long enough you get used to it. It’s like the way a good friendship develops, or even a good sexual relationship. It can be really awkward at first, but if you are getting on with someone it can be dynamite.

If you are riding a bike well, it is because you have gotten used to its nuances. You learn how much to squeeze that brake before it locks up; you get to learn about the subtleties of the gearing and the engine; you get to become intimate with the bike’s weight and its balance and all this amazing physical stuff.

A sneak peek of Adam's Chevrolet El Camino.
A sneak peek of Adam’s Chevrolet El Camino.

Where do the cars sit within your passion for machines?

The motors are another thing altogether, really, though there are some obvious crossovers. In a car, you are locked in this cave. I think a lot of men need to go and hide for a bit and a car is a good place to do that. I know I need to get away from myself, and for me lately the Mustang has been where I go, even though because of lockdown it’s just been about tooling around the block.

It has been driving me crazy being at home — and I haven’t been drinking much since Christmas. I’ve been like a mouse on a wheel because I am not drinking, so I have been regularly jumping in these stupid cars with my son, or just jumping on a bike and riding around. What I like about a car is that it’s like being at a gig and putting your head in a speaker, and your ears are bleeding. In the summer you wind down the windows and let the outside in. But I quite like having all the windows up and the music really loud too. You can create a sort of sense of drama just out the front door.

The El Camino is a brilliant thing – and excellent for hauling bikes around. I probably should have gotten a crew cab VW camper like everyone else, but that’s not me is it? The latest car is the Notchback Mustang. It’s a little bit smaller, a little bit easier to get on with and have around town – because the bigger American stuff can’t even do a 6ft 6in gap. Mind you, now there are no cut throughs in London, so I might just buy a Lincoln Continental!