The Vector W8
was the first American super car produced from 1989 to 1993. It was manufactured by Vector Aeromotive (see Vector Supercars), and was designed by Gerald Wiegert, and David Kostka.
After graduating from college, Jerry Wiegert formed Vehicle Design Force. With the help of Lee Brown, the Vector was built. The Vector was merely a shell that was intended to be outfitted with a Mercedes-Benz Wankel engine. The production plans for the Wankel engine was eventually scrapped by Mercedes-Benz and the Wiegert/Brown union dispersed.
In 1972, the name Vehicle Design Force was changed to Vector Aeromotive Corporation. Their first creation was again a shell, this time dubbed the Vector W2. By the 1980s a power-train had been outfitted to the W2. Throughout the 1980’s various W2 variants were created, each unique in design but never mass produced. By the close of the 1980’s, the W2 was no longer being produced.
In 1991 the W2 was redesigned and dubbed the Vector W8 of which two prototypes were originally created. The name was formed by using Wiegert’s last initial and the number of cylinders in the engine. Power was supplied through an eight-cylinder engine capable of producing 600 horsepower and 600 foot-pounds of torque. Top speed was estimated to be over 200 mph. Production was low with only seventeen examples ever created. Eventually the designs were sold and Vector began focusing on their new model the Wx-3 and WX-3R.
The intended engine for WX-3 was to have more than 1000 horsepower. The engine was never completed so a turbocharged Chevrolet engine was used. Production cost for the WX-3 was around one-million dollars. The sticker price to own a WX-3 was around $685,000. The WX-3R was intended on being the roadster version, but never made it passed being a prototype.
High production costs and poor build quality eventually sent the Vector Company to file for bankruptcy protection.
In 1993 the Indonesian company Megatech bought Vector and moved the company from California to Florida. Wiegert was not allowed a lead position in the company but was offered a position as a designer, which he refused and thus, left the company. Before he left, Wiegert copyrighted the designs for the WX-3 and the W8 and as a result, the WX-3 never entered production.
In 1994 Megatech purchased Lamborghini for forty million dollars. In 1998 it sold the Lamborghini marquee to Volkswagen.
From 1995 through 1999 Vector Supercars produced the M12 during which only 14 examples were produced. Counting prototypes and crash-test cars, seventeen examples of the M12 were created. Power was provided by a 5.7 liter Lamborghini V-12 engine capable of producing nearly 500 horsepower and 425 foot-pounds of torque. The 3600 pound vehicle could race from zero-to-sixty in just under five seconds and had a top speed of 190 mph. Many of the mechanical components were borrowed from the Lamborghini Diablo. Its price tag was similar to the Diablo at around $184,000.
The M12 shared a similar design with the WX-3. The WX-3 had been outfitted with enough space to accommodate an eight-cylinder engine. With the adaptation of the V-12 in the M12, the chassis needed re-engineering to accommodate the extra weight and horsepower. Due to its large size the rear was enlarged, the cockpit was moved further and the front was shortened.
In 1999, employee Tommy Suharto brought an end to the Vector Company due to embezzlement. Tommy had been considered by many as a ’playboy’. He was the son of President Suharto. Production ceased in 1999 when Vector could not pay for the Lamborghini engines and its other debts.
A Vector SRV8 was the final effort for Vector in the automobile production business. Its basic design was based on the M12 but in the engine compartment lurked a Corvette engine. The vehicles aesthetics were updated with the use of air scoops and spoilers. Due to mounting financial difficulties, the vehicle never entered production.
Everything on the Vector was designed to last the life of the owner, given that the owner maintained the vehicle. The body was made largely of lightweight carbon kevlar, known for its strength, and lightness. Just 22 W8s were produced (17 customer cars and two pre-production cars, the prototype W2, and two prototype Avtech WX-3 with a mock up of the 7.0 liter DOHC TT engine evolution), the car retailing for up to $455,000 USD new (on today’s used market they are available from less than $200,000, to well over $1,000,000).
The original philosophy of Vector was very interesting. Since American was never the expert of supercars, Vector’s creator Gerald Wiegert thought he could create a supercar based on the most sophisticated aircraft technology of his country. The first Vector W8 really employed many aerospace technology: its aluminium space frame chassis was bonded by epoxy and rivets in aircraft style, the floor was aluminium honeycomb structure, the body consisted of carbon fiber, Kevlar and some glass-fiber. The aluminium brake caliper had 4 pistons. The speedo was implemented by CRT screens.
The car was based around a Rodeck resleevable V8 engine racing engine, coupled to a three-speed B+M modified transmission. The engine had twin turbochargers, which produced an advertised 625 hp at 5700 rpm and 650 lbs-ft of torque. The W8 had an estimated top speed of 200+ mph (338 km/h). However, in testing at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the W-2 reached 242 mph (389 km/h) with the less powerful Donovan block; as reported by Top Wheels magazine. This was reached while still using the "high downforce" wing.
The W8 was essentially an upgrade of the same company’s earlier prototype, the Vector W2. Among the famous customers for the car was tennis star Andre Agassi, who had his car delivered for his birthday party. Late that night, he had an infamous incident when his car locked up, and spun durring excessive speeds without all the necessary radiators installed. He was half way from his home towared Las Vegas. Vector claims that this is because he demended for his car before it could be finished, and he ignored their recommendations not to drive it until they could do the final work. Vector intended to follow the W8 with the Vector WX-3 and Vector WX-3R, but series production never got off the ground. Production of the W8 ended in 1993, when the company was illegally taken over by Megatech, but Wiegert won back the design copyrights, equipment, and remaining unsold cars, including the car in a VW museum in Germany.
A red W8 made a rare appearance in the 1993 movie Rising Sun starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. The car was owned by the character Eddie.
- Type: Aluminum alloy 90 degree V-8.
- Displacement: 6.0 Iiters.
- Horsepower: 600+ 5700 RPM.
- Torque: 600+ ft./lbs. 4900 RPM.
- Block Construction: Blueprinted and balanced aluminum block with replaceable ductile iron cylinder liners, forged aluminum pistons, Carrillo rods, forged crankshaft.
- Cylinder Heads: aluminum, enlarged and polished ports, stainless steel valves, roller rocker arms.
- Cooling System: Water/ethylene glycol, forward high efficiency aluminum radiator, thermostatically controlled fan. Fuel System: electronic direct port fuel injection. Ignition System: electronic, direct fire.
- Turbo-chargers: Two Garrett AiResearch H3’s with water cooled housings. Intercooler: Air-to-air, dual pass high efficiency aluminum. Emisson Control: Closed loop injection/catalytic converters, unleaded fuel
- Transmission: Aluminum high performance racing manual/automatic, clutchless, ratchet shifter.
- Final Drive: Aluminum housing with ground helical spur gears, Gleason-Torsen differential.
- Ratio: 2.43:1.
- Construction: Hybrid composite of carbon, Kevlar, and S-glass unidirectional fibers in epoxy resin matrix. Strong, light, dent-proof, corrosion-free.
- Same repair procedures as fiber-glass.
- Type: Semi-monocoque with full 4130 chrome moly tube steel roll cage.
- Construction: Structural steel tubing, aluminum monocoque structure, epoxy-bonded and riveted with aircraft fasteners, aluminum honeycomb panel reinforced. Corrosion resistant.
- Front: Unequal length A-arms, concentric coil adjustable shock absorbers.
- Rear: DeDion tube with four-trailing arms and lateral link,
- concentric coil adjustable shock absorbers.
- Power assisted rack and pinion steering.
- Competition racing brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs, 13.0 in. diameter front, 13.0 in. diameter rear, four piston aluminum calipers, braided stainless steel fluid lines.
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES
- Wheels Front/Rear: 3-piece modular, machined billet aluminum. 16 x 9.5 in./16 x 12.0 in.
- Tires Front/Rear: Michelin XGT+ radial 255-45ZR16/315-40ZR16. Certified by Michelin for 200 + MPH sustained operation.
- Wheelbase: 103.0 in.
- Track Front/Rear: 63.0/65.0 in.
- Length: 172.0 in.
- Width: 76 in.
- Height: 42.5 in.
- Ground Clearance: 5.5 in.
- Oil Capacity: 12 qts.
- Water Capacity: 24.0 qts.
- Aircraft type menu-driven reconfigurable electroluminescent display monitoring all vital pressures and temperatures with both digital and analog display formats.
- Competition type steel roll cage, progressive crush impact protection, airbag, high impact aircraft-type fuel tank, braided stainless steel fluid lines and fire extinguisher.
- Air conditioning, clutchless manual/automatic transmission, power steering, removable sunroof, Recaro"C" seats, leather interior, Wilton wool carpet, intermittent wipers, remote trunk release, tilt steering, Vector Stage 1 sound system, dual element rear wing.