Every once and a while, you get pleasantly surprised by the unexpected kindness of a stranger – and even less often by someone who has a ‘name’ in the business world. This happened to me recently when I went looking for some parts and pieces to refit my Vetter Windjammer IV for one of my GT750 Suzuki’s.
Back in 1973 when we married, in addition to my newly wed wife, I must admit that I also lusted over what was then the Rolls Royce of motorcycle fairings made by an outfit in the US owned by a guy called Craig Vetter. Back then, motorcycle manufacturers generally did not provide much of anything other than the actual motorcycle, and there was a good sized aftermarket industry to provide windscreens and pannier bags. Initially this accessories market, with the exception of Harley Davidson accessories, was based in Europe, but as nice people started to meet each other on Honda’s in the US (still, I think, one of the most clever advertising angles invented) there gradually grew a market for similar hardware in the USA and Canada. Prior to Craig Vetter developing his line of aerodynamically styled fairings, much of what was on offer was somewhat flimsy, rattled a lot, often looked like an after thought, didn’t really offer much in the way of weather protection and usually did not offer any storage capacity – the Windjammer in contrast was solidly built, solidly attached, provided good weather protection and lots of storage and really looked good. In 1974 when I bought my first new bike, a Suzuki GT750, as can be imagined I immediately (well almost immediately – it took a few months to scrape together enough money to pay for it) went to get a Vetter fairing for it – the model was called a Windjammer II.
To say that I was in heaven once I had the fairing mounted on that bike would be an understatement – it was in many respects a dream come true as it made such a difference when riding it. Fast forward a few years, and most motorcycle manufacturers woke up to the idea that they could build and sell their own lines of fairings, bags and fittings and while imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, together with changing tastes of motorcycle owners, they basically killed the after market industry for this sort of accessory. The Vetter product line eventually ceased production in 1985. Craig Vetter had actually sold his business in 1978, but has continued to be involved with motorcycle design and various projects including mileage competitions to this day. He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, and if you follow the link there is a good bio of him and his design accomplishments.
Returning to that 1974 motorcycle – my pride and joy was actually stolen in the fall of 1974, and while I went on to own other bikes and makes and models of fairings I always thought that Suzuki GT750 with its Windjammer fairing looked the best of any that I came to own. When I picked up another Suzuki GT750 in 1986, as may be expected, one of the first things I did was track down and install a Windjammer fairing, although by that time new parts to fit the Suzuki could not be ordered and I actually had to make my own mounting hardware.
So here it is 35 years after my first Windjammer purchase. If you check eBay, there is still a very active market for these accessories, and you regularly can see various Windjammer models for sale, as well the the matching Vetter carrier bags together with mounting hardware. The internet and I suppose specifically eBay has provided an easy way to eventually locate almost all the bits you need to put a set together. As I recently dug around the internet looking for parts to refurbish my Vetter fairing, I was pleasantly surprised to find that after all this time Craig Vetter himself is still providing some limited support for his creations in the form of advice, replacement trim pieces and hardware. Better still – he and his wife Carol will actually cheerfully respond in person to queries and requests, and he even sent me a photo of himself on a 1972 GT750 with one of his fairings mounted on it ! You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was that surprised, as this sort of business behaviour is such a welcome contrast to so many other businesses that I deal with these days.
Personal responses, cheerful advice and friendly service – that’s a precious thing in this day and age, and perhaps a small part of why Vetter fairings are still as sought after as they were 35 years ago. Of course, the fact they still look fantastic must also have a bit to do with it !