In my first article I talked about the Cizeta V16T, the Diablo-should-have-been with an engine bigger than the excuses of a cheating girlfriend. This time though we've got a supercar that outsold the V16T by 2 whole cars (!!) and it didn't even come from Italy. Actually it didn't even come from Europe. Yes, this perfectly weird beast came from the land of the Chevy Malibu, the Ford Pinto and the Chrysler PT Cruiser or simply the United States and it sure is interesting cause if you think about fast American cars of the late 80s- early 90s chances are the Corvette ZR1 and the Viper will come to mind and not this twin turbocharged, 6.0 lt. Rodeck V8 powered shotgun blast of freedom. So if you thought the Cizeta was insane then you're in luck cause the Vector's straitjacket is on too tight.
So let's start with the company itself. Vector Aeromotive as it was later called was founded in 1978 by Gerald Wiegert with a goal of bringing the battle to European supercar manufactures, most notably Lamborghini and Ferrari. The company's first prototype, the W2, never made it into production and despite being extensively covered from car magazines of the time, including Motor Trend, and accumulating more than 100000 miles on its odometer it remained simply a myth. It was however the machine on which the company's first production car was based so we have to give it credit for being the genesis of Vector's short but explosive history.
By 1989 Jerry Wiegert had finally secured enough money to put his dream into production. So an improved version of the W2 was created and it was called the W8. And Vector weren't playing around with this one. It had a monocoque chassis from aluminum that was epoxy bonded and riveted with aircraft spec rivets. It also had an aluminum honeycombed structured floor pan and a body made from kevlar and carbon fibre. But most importantly it had a 6.0 lt. Rodeck V8 with two turbos to make the performance even more eye watering. Its gearbox though was a 3 speed automatic and to be specific it was a "highly modified" GM Turbo-Hydramatic typically found in early 70s Oldsmobiles. Koni adjustable springs and 13 inch ventilated discs with 4 piston calipers all round completed what was without a doubt one of the most technologically advanced cars of the time. Its interior was fitted with electrically adjustable leather Recaros and it also featured an aircraft style screen that gave information about every single detail of the car and not to mention that the steering wheel was in the middle like this BMW engined car that i can't remember..
The result of all this? In one word: Power. In many words: Run for your lives. This car was serious. So serious that according to Road and Track magazine it did the quarter mile in 12 secs. destroying heavyweights like the Testarossa and the ZR1 in the process. It was so fast that it found itself in F40 and Diablo territory which considering the fact that the car and the company behind it came from nothing (and went back to nothing as it seems) makes it sound like a fairytale. But the ending was far from happy with this one.
The W8 was really fast but it was also hopelessly unreliable. Car and Driver barely completed a road test of one cause it kept breaking down and while there weren't a lot of them made all of them had quality problems which in turn led to bad publicity. The most notable incident involved tennis player Andre Agassi that bought a prototype W8 and drove it despite Vector making it clear that the car wasn't finished and was only suitable for presentations until some work could be completed. The car broke down and Agassi described the W8 as "a death trap" after he returned the car to the company and got a refund. Various incidents like this paired with a dwindling supply of money meant that Vector's days were numbered and surely in 1995 Vector went threw a hostile takeover that saw new owners Megatech, that also owned Lamborghini at the time, make the W8s replacement, the M12 which was essentially a facelifted W8 that was powered not from a 6.0 lt. V8 but from a Diablo sourced 5.7 lt. V12 mated to a 5 speed manual. Only 17 M12s were made during its 4 year production run which even saw Vector try to race it, an attempt that failed miserably after, you guessed it, the car kept breaking down. Jeremy Clarkson seemed to like it though in this 1998 Top Gear clip.
Vector then. An overly optimistic company that took Lamborghini and Ferrari head on and failed miserably. It's impossible not to be impressed though at how a guy took his dream and turned it into reality even for a very small amount of time. And while the W8 wasn't perfect by any stretch it has its place in the automotive pantheon as the first American supercar and that is something no one can take from Jerry Wiegert and his company. All petrolheads around the world we salute you Vector for showing that dreams can come true.. even if their gearboxes seize 10 minutes into the test drive.
What are your opinions on Vector and its cars?