Southern Metal Customs Fallen Bro’s Buell

Written by  By Buck Manning Photos by Jack “For once, leave me alone” Cofano Thursday, 31 January 2013 15:51
Published in Ultra Customs
  If you’re keeping score, you are aware that yesterday’s Barnett’s Magazine Online Article of the Day was about something out of the norm for a company dedicated to making custom motorcycles. As you may recall, Southern Metal Choppers in Austin, Texas, had found a nice gig building a 3-D replica showpiece of a cyber-space motorcycle that was intended for an upcoming video game. SMC’s Bronson Willard had the foresight and the balls to take on a project that was a bit out of left field as far as the average custom build went with his absolutely correct version of a “bike” that was a star player in some cyber geek’s head long before it became a metal and rubber reality.


  Yes it was spot on for it’s intended purpose which wasn’t to take the outside curve around you on a tight, fast back road turn or even to patrol the mean 5mph streets of Daytona during Bike Week, but to showcase in the easily understood flesh of a star of an upcoming video game and maybe get you a wee bit excited about the whole digital proposition. That’s all fine and good and more power to Bronson if he can figure out a way to make a good buck or two kinda working around what he does best. And what does he do best you ask? Well the man from the state capital of Texas builds custom motorcycles for the show and the road and sometimes both depending on your demands.


   This little ditty of a showpiece not only shows what Bronson and his company can do, but there’s kind of a sweet back story to this that no builder with a true sense of motorcycle brotherhood should be ashamed of in the goddamn slightest way (and I don’t give a shit how tough you are or how tough think you are, if you ain’t got some warm fuzzy feelings to someone else other than your self, get the f*ck off this planet.). Anyway, the back story on this 2003 Buell was that it originally belonged to Bronson’s cousin who opened the shop with him and tragically died on this very Buell. This build turned into a kind of memorial to him and realistically only used the 1203cc Buell engine, but since the engine is considered the heart of any bike, it was a good piece to incorporate.


   I didn’t want to go there for obvious reasons, but it seemed like the engine was the only salvageable piece Bronson carried over to his new build. A new rigid frame by DHC and SMC featured a laid-down 47-degree rake to let the Mean Street forks reach for the horizon while keeping the bike limbo-low. Renegade Wheels filled up the axle portals front and rear and were tastefully covered by B’COOL fenders modified by SMC to fit like they were only intended for this bike. Bronson did a nice job whipping out a gas tank, bars, and exhaust that I’m sure would make his late cousin extremely jealous. “The fenders are tight to the tires and level with the frame while the handlebars are the design I had done on my cousin’s bike before he died,” said Bronson.


  Design wise, Bronson explained, “I wanted something different and a color you could ever see in a sea of bikes. That is the reason I did the long fenders and a kick stand on the right side of the bike.” It should be noted here that PPG sponsored all of the paint materials and I’m all for giving that company its due. PPG has been a steady sponsor of various builders and helped out quite a few others. A big company like PPG that probably doesn’t need us as much as we need them deserves a special thank you for helping to keep lights on in many a talented builder’s shop. I know it’s suck-up corporate commercial shit, but if you don’t like it too bad. In my opinion, they really, really deserve a good pat on the back for being a welcome corporate addition to a world we love to live in. Good on you PPG and to any other manufacturers who help out their builder bros no matter who they are. Taking a good look at this simple, but stunning paintjob by Bronson shows they’ve got their finger on the hippest spray-gun trigger you could find.


   Done over a period of three months, Bronson pulled it all together enough to win a second place at the Big Texas Chop Off. Yeah, yeah, I know it ain’t first place and this is no fairy tale ending, but that’s not the point of the bike. This bike was an honor for Bronson to build and an honor to a friend, relative, and business partner now lost, but never forgotten. As Bronson said, “When you want an ego boost, it’s a good riding bike, bit not something you want to go on a long trip with.” I think what he may have left out is how much he humbly still feels connected with his late cousin when he twists that throttle and that’s something that’s priceless. Even with all this work, Bronson says, “The bike is done for now, but I am going to redo it in the near future.” Hopefully Bronson will be nice enough to show us his redo of his redo although I can’t begin to guess what he’s got in mind to redo.  


  For more info on all of Bronson’s work, parts, and services, please visit

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