Mystery Ship: Craig Vetter's Way-Out Kawasaki

Hardly something to disappear into the background, a Vetter Mystery Ship is something owner Alan Smith had wanted for over 30 years.


1980 Vetter Mystery Ship No. 3
Engine: 1,015cc air-cooled DOHC inline four, 69.4mm x 66mm bore and stroke, 8.7:1 compression ratio, 93hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: NA
Carburetion: Four 29mm Mikuni CV
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/62in (1,575mm)
Suspension: Telescopic fork front, dual S&W “lay down” shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: Dual 9.4in (240mm) discs front, single 9.8in (250mm) disc rear
Tires: 3.5 x 19in front, 4.5 x 17in rear
Weight (dry): 495lb (225kg)
Seat height: 32in (813mm)
Fuel capacity: 6gal (22.7ltr)

Next to Willie G. Davidson, Craig Vetter is the American most responsible for motorcycle design in the last 40 years. He started on his life path very early. At the age of 8, he learned about Glenn Curtiss, the early speed record-setter and motorcycle and airplane designer. He decided then that he would be a second Glenn Curtiss, a designer and racer.

Now in his 70s, Vetter is involved in several different projects, most currently focused on electric motorcycles. He is also writing his memoirs, aided by several shelves of notebooks. Since 1965, Vetter has written and sketched his ideas in notebooks, which serve as an archive of his projects. Vetter often has several projects going at once, and is now up to 121 filled notebooks.


Vetter has always been interested in streamlining, and started on his career in 1966 by designing motorcycle fairings. In 1968, Vetter displayed a bike with what he called a “seat tank,” a one-piece fiberglass unit that served as a 5-gallon gas tank, a reservoir for 2-stroke oil, and a seat pan. This design came to the attention of the American BSA importer, who commissioned Vetter to design a more appealing styling for the new BSA Rocket 3, a fast bike with a stodgy exterior penned by Ogle Design. The Vetter Hurricane was unveiled in 1970 and was ultimately produced as the Triumph Hurricane in 1972-1973. As testimony to its influence, a Hurricane was one of the featured bikes in the famous Guggenheim Art of the Motorcycle exhibit.

8/21/2020 8:47:30 AM

But Vetter only had the one idea of an expensive heavy fairing?

8/5/2020 1:12:48 PM


2/21/2020 1:50:23 AM

I really like the looks of the Mystery Ship. It's a shame they built so few of them. It really doesn't have a 'bad' angle to it.

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