Kawasaki “Craig Vetter” Mystery Ship

1980


When Craig Vetter created Mystery Ships, Inc., it was with the intent to transform the 1978 AMA Kawasaki Superbike, the same bike that captured the Vetter Racing Team its championship, into a street-legal racer for non-professional speed seekers.

Vetter’s ambition was to design a bike with all the features he valued in a street racer. The Mystery Ship would not only be capable of incredible speeds and smooth handling but would also offer comfortable positioning for the rider. The result was a motorcycle worthy of track competition but modified for everyday street use. This was due to Vetter’s unique styling paired with chassis and engine specifications from renown Japanese manufacturer, Hideo “Pops” Yoshimura.

The Mystery Ship’s design process utilized a Kawasaki KZ1000 that was reworked to accommodate racing loads. Modifications included a reinforced framework, Mulholland Force-1 air shocks, magnesium wheels, special Michelin M48 tires, a Lockhart oil cooler, and a hand-formed aluminum gas tank. An angled windshield and integrated fairings were positioned to align perfectly with a seated rider. This scientific design would funnel wind around the rider’s frame to create a smooth, comfortable ride at both casual and performance speeds.

Vetter called his creation “the ultimate motorcycle” for its ability to provide a comfortable street riding experience while featuring all of the parts and modifications that form a true racing bike. The Mystery Ship’s original press reading cleverly remarked, “The only difference between the Mystery Ship and a Superbike Road Racer is that the Mystery Ship has a headlight and tread on its tires.”

200 of these visionary motorcycles were initially scheduled for production, but only ten were ever built, and only seven were ever actually sold. This makes the Mystery Ship one of the most sought-after limited-edition motorcycles in existence.

  • Odometer shows 48 miles
  • Used for promotion and print advertising
  • Offered with various engine configurations
  • The #5 is probably the most famous of the 10 made
  • Based on a Kawasaki KZ1000
  • The Mystery Ship included a modified chassis, magnesium racing wheels, Yoshimura exhaust, and a custom Vetter faring