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|Gerald Wiegert Chairman & CEO|
Vector Motors Corporation is an American automobile manufacturer originally based in Wilmington, California. Its history can be traced to Vehicle Design Force, which was founded in 1978 by Gerald Wiegert. Vehicle production began in 1989 and ceased in the 1990s. The company was recently revived (as Vector Motors Corporation), and is currently developing a new supercar. Vector is credited by some as America's first attempt to compete with European performance car manufacturers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Lotus.
Nearly every car produced by the company is designated the letter "W" (for Wiegert) and a number. A letter "X" after the W (e.g. WX-8) signifies a prototype unit. The only exception to this rule is the Megatech-era M12, wherein the "M" stands for Megatech and the 12 signifies its V12 engine.
In 1971, Gerald Wiegert, fresh from college, founded a design house called Vehicle Design Force, and teamed up with Lee Brown, a well-known auto body expert in Hollywood, to create a new car called The Vector. The Vector was said to have various powerplants including a DOHC Porsche engine, and preproduction literature claimed that it would cost US$10,000 (when a new Rolls Royce Silver Shadow cost $11,500). None of these plans came to fruition, however, as Wiegert's planned production run never started. All that came of The Vector was an empty shell that was displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Lee Brown left the design team shortly thereafter. The Vector was featured on the cover of Motor Trend magazine in April 1972. Wiegert renamed Vehicle Design Force to Vector Aeromotive after work began on a new project, the Vector W2.
The Vector W2
In 1978, Wiegert created another car, called the W2. Like the first car, it was immobile at the time of its show debut, but in 1979, the initial W2 became a running prototype. During its lifespan, it got over 100,000 miles (160,000 km) on its odometer, the most of any concept yet.
The W2 was extensively covered by many magazines, and it was thoroughly tested by Motor Trend magazine and the British automotive television program Top Gear. However, Top Gear was ordered not to perform a top speed test on it, even though Vector claimed the car was capable of 230 mph.
In 1989, Wiegert's company, now known as the Vector Aeromotive Corporation, began production of the W8, an evolution of the W2. Financial backing came from public stock offerings and various lawsuits including suits against the Goodyear Tire Company (trademark infringement with the Vector brand of tires) and Vantage cigarettes. Two W8 prototypes were made, of which only one ran.
One black W8 was sold to famous tennis player Andre Agassi. Since Vectors were hand built, each took some time to finish, but Agassi demanded that the company deliver his W8 as soon as possible. Vector delivered the car as promised. Company representatives told him that he could display it, but warned him not to drive it until the final work was completed. Wiegert and Vector Aeromotive refunded Agassi's US$455,000 purchase price after the car broke down, which brought the company negative public attention despite the circumstances. Repairs on Agassi's W8 were finished, and the car was resold. A total of 17 Vector W8 cars were built for public sale.
The Vector W8 did manage a brief foray into the spotlight of the film-going general public when a red version of the car was used in the 1993 film Rising Sun, driven by a Japanese businessman.
The Vector W8 utilized an automatic Oldsmobile TM425 Transaxle mated to a Twin-Turbo CAN-AM modified Chevrolet small block V8 engine.
Wiegert displayed his next version of the Vector at the Geneva Auto Show in 1993. The Avtech WX-3 coupe and Avtech WX-3R roadster further evolved the W8 design. Only one prototype of each model was built. Plans called for the WX-3 to carry three different engine options: a 600 hp (450 kW) "basic" V-8, an 800 hp (600 kW) "tuned" option, and a 1,200 hp (890 kW) twin turbo option, While the Coupe had the twin turbo engine (tuned to about 800 hp) the roadster had the same Chevrolet engine as the W8. When the WX-3 debuted in 1993, MegaTech, an Indonesian company, acquired a controlling interest in Vector. After Wiegert returned from the Geneva show, the Vector board asked Wiegert to relinquish control of the company and assume only the role of the company's designer. He refused, and ordered the Vector headquarters physically locked down. He was later fired from Vector Aeromotive. The WX-3 Coupe was originally painted silver, but it was repainted teal-blue by Wiegert to match the teal-blue and purple logo of his Aquajet jet-ski company. The teal-blue coupe and purple roadster are featured as promotional vehicles on the Aquajet website.
The Vector M12
Megatech moved Vector from its Wiegert-owned headquarters building in Wilmington, California, to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where the company could share office space with fellow MegaTech-owned automaker Automobili Lamborghini.
The new Vector Aeromotive Corporation created a car called the Vector M12, which was loosely based on the WX-3 but powered by a version of the Lamborghini Diablo V12 engine. Consequently, some work on the M12 was handled by Lamborghini. As such, many of the essentially American "spirit" characteristics of previous editions did not carry over to the M12.
Production of the M12 began in 1995 in Green Cove Springs, Florida, and the car was introduced at the 1996 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where Vector displayed two examples. Production was shuttered late in 1996 when the $189,000 cars did not meet projected sales targets. Production resumed after MegaTech sold off Lamborghini (to Audi) and Vector (to management). By early 1999, only 14 M12s were produced. Lamborghini did not fulfill its contracted delivery of motors due primarily to Vector's inability to pay for them. It was alleged that Tommy Suharto, son of Indonesian strongman General Suharto and a MegaTech principal, illegally embezzled from the company for his own personal gain.
According to one story, Lamborghini took a W8 for payment for the engines, but since the W8 in question was still Wiegert's property at the time, he took the case to court. He won it back, although Lamborghini, now owned by Volkswagen, has since refused to give the car back.
Vector reduced the cost of the M12 and created the SRV8. This new model went back to its American roots, featuring a modified version of the GM LT1 engine found in the Corvette and a Porsche G50 transaxle. Although, within days of the car's first public appearance, Vector shut its doors. Only one prototype was produced.
After the remains of Vector Aeromotive were sold to American Aeromotive, Wiegert took back the assets of Vector and changed the company name from Avtech Motors to Vector Supercars, then finally to Vector Motors. Neither Wiegert nor American Aeromotive have completed cars, so it is unclear whether there will ever be another Vector produced.
Since the company's closure, rumors began to circulate about Wiegert developing a new car to bring Vector back to life with a new model called the WX8. At the Concorso Italiano on August 18, 2006, Wiegert showed up in the V-8 Avtech prototype with friend Keith Rosenberg. He confirmed that he had begun work on another supercar.
Wiegert had the Avtech on display at the Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance on June 17, 2007. His business card for Vector Motors Corporation (Wilmington, CA) has him titled as "Chairman and CEO." He also announced plans to debut his new prototype at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.
At the L.A. Auto Show, Wiegert presented a prototype of the WX8. The car is powered by a supercharged 10-litre all-aluminum V8 with a projected output of 1,850 horsepower (1,380 kW), which would make it more powerful than the Bugatti Veyron and the SSC Ultimate Aero TT. Vector claims that the WX8 has a top speed of 275 mph (443 km/h) and a 0-60 time of just under three seconds.
- "Vector Aeromotive Corporation - Corporate Backgrounder", The Vector Aeromotive Corporation, prepared by Kalmann Communications, 1990, contributed by the Vector Aeromotive Corporation
- the vectorFILES
- Wyss, Wally (April 1972). "Auto Show". Motor Trend (Petersen Publishing Company) 24 (4): 38.
- Aeromotive club (through Internet Archive)
- "Vector W2 - The Longest Running Concept Car". thecarwallpapers.com. theCARwallpapers.com. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Tv.com biography of Gerald Wiegert
- Vector, another fantasy flop - Michael Sheehan.
- Out of the Shadows - Article by Paul Garson from the August 2004 issue of Automobile Magazine.
- Vector WX-8 shows its face at LA Auto Show