1978-1998 Vector

The Vector W8

The W2 was followed by an updated version, the W8, powered by a 6.0-liter, 625-bhp V-8.
The W2 was followed by an updated version, the W8, powered by a 6.0-liter, 625-bhp V-8.

The 1990 Vector press brochure pushed hard to sell the car as well as the company. Instrumentation for the car, now known as the Vector W8, was listed as an "aircraft type menu-driven reconfigurable electroluminescent display monitoring all vital pressures and temperatures with both digital and analog display formats."

Standard equipment included Recaro seats and wool carpeting. Just in case the prospective buyer wanted to invest in the company listed at the bottom of the one-page flier was the company's NASDAQ symbol: VCAR.

The first production W8 emerged from the factory in 1990. Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid received the first car in September 1990, more than three years after Wiegert had originally promised.

Road & Track published tests of the W8 in its March 1991 and August 1992 issues. Numbers such as 4.2 seconds O-to-60 mph, 12.0 seconds at 124 in the quarter, 0.97 gs on the skidpad, and 218 mph top speed rank among the best ever published for a street car in R&T.

Although the 1991 price was "only" $283,750, the tab skyrocketed to $489,800 for 1992, ranking the W8 as one of the most expensive cars the magazine ever tested.

With a "mild" 7.0 psi of turbocharger boost and 365 cid, the Vector engine produced "a very civilized temperament at idle" while still dishing up much of the 630 pounds-feet of torque when prodded, R&T found.

Although an automatic, the unique transmission could be shifted manually with a precise ratchet action from the gear selector mounted in the frame rail on the left side of the driver.

Nobody could deny the strength of the Vector design. Nearly everyone who has had the chance to drive one described it as over-designed. The military-grade specifications were well beyond those of other cars on the road. Where more affluent automakers could afford to crash test a number of cars until a design is found to be sufficiently strong.

Vector used one car for front and rear crash testing. The Ralph Maloof-designed front and rear booms worked perfectly Had the electrical equipment not been disconnected for the test, the car could have been driven away from the crashes.

However, among the stories of those who placed orders for the cars, not all the endings were happy. Tennis star Andre Agassi insisted on purchasing one of the early W8 models in 1991. It was sold to him under the condition that he keep it stored until the company could make it emissions legal.

Agassi agreed to these terms but, "he couldn't resist and drove the dickens out of it," remembers former company director Barry Rosengrant. After only 10 days (and the car damaged from overheating), Agassi demanded that Wiegert take the car back and return his $400,000. For fear of bad publicity, Wiegert reluctantly obliged.

Automobile dealer Warren Person put a deposit down on the 10th Vector W8. When speculative values of the Vector began to rise above his agreed price, the car "was sold to the highest bidder," according to Person.

Wiegert, describing him as "a great guy" agreed with this assessment and said that Person should have received the car, but his salesmen told him to sell the car for a larger profit.

The 1992 New York Auto Show was the occasion for the introduction of the next Vector. The Avtech WX-3 was claimed to be powered by engines up to 1000 bhp. The price was announced to be $765,000. (Wiegert later claimed a $200,000 normally-aspirated model powered by a 300-horse engine based on the Chevrolet Corvette LT1 V-8 was to have followed.)

Go on to the next page to learn about the Avtech WX-3.

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