Around fifty members booked in and enjoyed catching up with friends over a two-course meal at the Golf Club this month. In the absence of our President, who was working that evening, Ray Youlden stepped in as Master of Ceremonies and led us through the regular formalities before introducing and handing over to one of our newer members, Rainer Schroeder who had accepted the invitation to display his 2002 Bullet SS roadster in the dining room.
After 40 years of riding motorcycles, Rainer was looking to buy something different and had his eye on TVR Chimaera, but that fell through. He knew of this Bullet SS which had been on the market for several years and was owned by a collector in Queensland. It hadn’t sold owing to the ridiculous asking price, but when Rainer made an offer, it was accepted.
The Bullet SS looks like a modified Mazda MX5, but beneath the skin (which is mainly fibreglass) there is some impressive engineering and design work. The Bullet Company was established in Queensland in the mid 1990s and began developing their roadster initially with Mazda rotary engines and then the alloy Rover V8, but the supply of engines was a problem. They went back to the drawing board and created the SS roadster which, for rigidity, utilises a fully-fabricated alloy chassis beneath the centre section of a Series 1 MX5. The front and rear bodywork sections are completely redesigned and substantially wider than the standard MX5. The suspension is quite sophisticated with the rear axle being the same as a Mazda RX8. The company approached Toyota for the 4-litre Lexus V8 and the 5-speed Supra gearbox and began building cars for Australian (ADR) compliance. The remanufactured Bullet Specification 4.0 litre V8 engines met ADR 37-01 Emission compliancy. The supercharged SS model was fitted with forged decompressed pistons, it was balanced and blue printed on assembly which included some cylinder head work and a custom Sprintex M90 Supercharger system fitted with dual staged throttle bodies and advanced engine management. Power had increased to 320kw and 575Nm of torque, which in a car weighing only 1200kg, is beyond adequate. 0 to 100km/h comes up in only 3.8 seconds!
The new Bullet achieved full ADR compliancy in early 2003 which meant that it was the first low volume Australian built vehicle to achieve this. The Bullet Roadster was marketed for $98,000 and the Bullet Roadster SS was $120,000.
The cars were too expensive and ADR compliance costs crippled the company, which in 2002 sold out to Advanced Engine Components Ltd. (AEC) who were the supplier of their Sprintex superchargers. Thirty-seven cars were built (some in kit form) before production ceased. Rainer’s car is the second car built and it was owned by the company and used for promotional duties up until 2014 before being sold on. Rainer purchased the car in February 2020 with only 8,000km on the clock. He and his daughter Elise drove it back from Queensland after meeting Bullet’s chief engineer at the factory. It features all the creature comforts of the MX5, including air conditioning, but it has a very firm ride to match its mind-blowing performance – Rainer remarked that, “too much right foot and it’s easy to get into trouble.”
The Club thanks Rainer and Elise for driving the Bullet in the rain all the way from Botanic Ridge (near Cranbourne) so that we could learn about and admire what is certainly one of our more unusual and fascinating club cars.