Vector, Another Fantasy Flop

(As Michael's article appeared in Sports Car Market Magazine, April 2000)

The Vector was created by Gerald "Jerry" Wiegart as an American challenge to the European Supercars of the 1970s. A non-running prototype was first shown at the Los Angeles Auto Expo in 1972. Projected selling price was then an unrealistically low $7,500. 

The first running prototype , now called the W2 with the "W" for Wiegert and 2 for the number of turbochargers fitted to its 5.9-liter, 600-plus hoserpower Chevrolet V8, made its first significant appearance by gracing the cover of Car and Driver magazine in December of 1980. With production to begin in late 1981, the projected price jumped to $125,000.

By the early 1990s, magazine publicity had turned negative, with comparisons by Autoweek's Dutch Mandel between the Vector factory and Peter Pan's Never-never land and Wiegert himself to P.T. Barnum. Vector limped along with funding from a lawsuit filed against Goodyear for trademark infringement concerning the Goodyear Vector tire.

The first production Vector was finally delivered in September 1990 to Saudi Prince Khalid. The list price had skyrocketed to $489,800. Problems continued as celebrity Vector owners such as Andre Agassi returned their cars for full refunds after over heating and a myriad of other problems.

Production remained meager, the costs of production continued to climb and the company continued to hang on by its financial fingertips. Time was running out for Jerry Wiegert. A "new" Vector, the WX3, was introduced at the 1992 New York Auto Show, now with a claimed 1000 hp, as the search for funding continued.

Foreign funding arrived in late 1992 from Bermuda-based MegaTech limited, an Indonesian-based shipping, mining and manufacturing conglomerate owned by "Tommy" Suharto, son of Indonesia's (former) ruler. The new owners replaced Wiegert in March of 1993. Suharto later purchased Lamborghini, and by 1994, a Lamborghini V12 now powered the newest Vector, the Avtech SC Coupe.

By 1998 the dream had faded beyond hope. In a road test by Top Gear, a British magazine, in August of 1998, the Vector was summarized as "very probably the worst car in the entire world". With Lamborghini now owned by Audi-Volkswagen the supply of Lamborghini engines was gone, finances were cut off and the doors were finally closed forever. After production of less than thirty five cars, the Vector dream of an American Supercar finally died, a victim of excessive hype, under-financing, under-engineering, and continual cost overruns. 

At the peak of the last economic boom, Vector s/n 48013 went to Japan for $375,000. Recently this same Vector changed hands in Japan for 10,000,000 Yen or about $65,000 USD. The new owners then spent another 2,000,000 Yen or about $13,000 USD for repairs and updates. Assuming 48013 will now run and drive for more than a few feet before spewing steam and shedding parts, it should prove a lot of thrills for not very much money. Ultimately, the Vector should be viewed as a minor footnote to automotive history, and a way to play "stump the parking lot attendants" at the local Four Seasons.