Story and photos by Billy Bartels
Nasty Swap Meet Slut
Phil Lopez sends us on an Easter Egg hunt.
“I have been building and customizing things my whole life and seldom leave anything untouched.” –Phil Lopez
Self-confessed swap meet junkie Phil Lopez has just a few rules for the bikes he builds: No batteries, old engines, suicide shifters, rigid frames (with no kickstands), and not many off-the-shelf parts. In fact, the only part on the bike that was bought new were the Todd’s Cycle grips, the rest were scrounged, fabricated or both.
Ron Baldonado walked into Phil’s garage (aka Crown Customs Inc) with the Pan/Shovel hybrid engine and a few other parts he wanted incorporated into the project (most of which Phil talked him out of) and set Phil loose on the Nasty. It came together slowly as the parts became available and the bike took shape. The Nasty theme came from the shifter knob (actually a pool cue ball), which is inlaid with a trio of tastefully nude females behind thick acrylic. Phil backed up the shifter with a license mount made from a similarly un-attired statuette, then carried it onto the tank in the form of a silhouetted stripper.
The unique tank came from a moped (make unknown) then massaged to fit the beefy Paughco frame and its filler moved from its original location. The gas cap, along with numerous other caps and rod ends around the bike were fabricated by Phil from brass scrap. Also built from brass, along with a vintage percolator off of a coffee machine is the taillight, which resides over the side-mount tag. The air inlet cover (it would be wrong to call it an air cleaner) is a flattened belt buckle, set into a glass ashtray with chain links securing it to a backing plate. The forward foot controls are modified from a set found on a Honda three-wheeler. The late-model front forks have been milled to straight pipes, running without even seals or fluid, the tubes gun-polished to get rid of the shine. Clearly, Phil isn’t afraid of making stuff, and he peppered the bike with tiny hand-made details, while still delivering a clean, aggressive-looking machine.
With this kind of creativity and talent, you might wonder whether this is Phil’s first bike. It’s totally not, he’s been building bikes for more than a decade, but knew that it was no way to make a living without a plan. His day job as a union mason was just too sweet a gig to give up. This is his first magazine bike, by a builder with a garage full of magazine quality bikes, built for friends, his name being spread one to the next in a steady stream over the past couple of decades.
But now that he’s approaching retirement, he’s looking to the next step. Knowing that most guys who do this for a living sell parts, he’s started making a few small, unique pieces like the aluminum filler for a magneto conversion case, the sculptured primary chain oiler, and even pipes like the clean ones seen here. He knows his stuff, soon to be marketed under the Crown Customs brand, is super-nichey, but keeping it small and unique is the only way he knows how to roll.
COLOR(S) Metallic Silver, Silver Flake, Diablo Red
PAINTER Crown Customs
GRAPHICS 23 carat gold leafing (Crown Customs)
MOLDING Crown Customs
PLATING/POLISHING Crown Customs
POWDER COATING Chuck
FRONT FENDER none
REAR FENDER Norton/Triumph (Crown Customs)
GAS TANK Moped (Crown Customs)
GAS CAP Crown Customs Inc (Brass)
OIL TANK swap meet (Crown Customs)
HANDLEBARS swap meet dog bones (Crown Customs)
GRIPS Todd’s Cycle Vice Grip
RISERS none (integrated?)
HAND CONTROLS none
FOOT CONTROLS Honda ATC
HEADLIGHT fork lift
TAILLIGHT percolator (Crown Customs)
TURN SIGNALS none (arm)
LICENSE MOUNT Crown Customs
SEAT Tractor Seat (modified by Crown Customs)
ELECTRICAL Crown Customs