1978-1998 Vector

The Early Vectors

Large air intakes positioned behind the doors left no doubt that the Vector W2 was powered by an engine mounted amidships.
Large air intakes positioned behind the doors left no doubt that the Vector W2 was powered by an engine mounted amidships.

The Vector concept evolved into the all-American supercar by 1977. An unspecified V-8 engine would produce between 600 and 800 horsepower and would be able to propel the car to 200 mph.

The car was touted to have the best of everything. Circuit breakers, for example, were built to military specification and cost as much as $15 each, instead of standard 15-cent circuitry protectors.

This car became known as the Vector W2 ("W" for Wiegert and "2" for the number of turbochargers). It first appeared on the pages of Automotive News in August 1977. The article announced the choice of a twin-turbocharged Chevrolet engine to power the car and the availability of a non-turbocharged version. The reported price of the W2 escalated to $50,000 by this point.

"The production cost is such that we have to charge more," Wiegert explained to Automotive News, "even though that limits the number of buyers."

Initial plans seemed adequately subdued. Only about 75 cars would be produced during the third year of operation, creating $868,500 of income. Production was just "waiting for more investment capital," a phrase that would become a recurring theme with Wiegert's firm. Automotive News estimated the investment needed to be $375,000.

After five years of fund-raising and planning, a running Vector model finally emerged in 1978. The first drivable W2 was the product of the recently formed Vector Cars. The new firm moved down the street to 1101 W. Washington Boulevard in Venice.

Auto enthusiasts got their next good look at the Vector W2 when it appeared as the cover story in the December 1980 issue of Car and Driver. The original running prototype, uniquely assembled with epoxy bonding and 6000 Monel Cherrymax aircraft-spec rivets, featured adjustable Koni spring shocks and an exotic de Dion rear axle instead of a fully independent design.

Brakes were massive Hurst-Airheart ventilated 12.2-inch discs at all four wheels, with the rear units mounted inboard. Pirelli P7 tires mounted on Center Line 15-inch wheels supported the front, while incredible 13-inch-wide tires kept the W2 planted at the rear.

To get the estimated 650 bhp from the aluminum-block, transverse-mounted midships engine to the ground, a modified General Motors automatic transaxle was used. Removed from a 1978 front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Toronado, the Turbo Hydra-Matic 425 transaxle was rebuilt by B&M Automotive. A Gleasman dual-drive differential made clutchless manual gear changing easy for the three-speed gearbox.

The W2's dimensions and performance were amazing. Zero-to-60 times of 4.0 seconds, quarter-mile times of 11.0 seconds at 130 mph, and a top speed of 237 mph were very hard to imagine, even with an estimated curb weight of only 2500 pounds.

Fuel economy for this supercar was estimated at an impressive 15 miles per gallon. Delivery of the W2 degrees -- the price of which had now ballooned to $125,000 degrees -- was expected to start in the fall of 1981.

Go on to the next page to read about publicity for the Vector.

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