Posted on: Aug 06, 2012
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Boutique Supercars: Vector M12

It's best to think of it this way: this supercar was doomed from the start.
It seemed like a good idea to start this series off with a cautionary tale, an example of how not to start your own supercar company. This should help not only to show the kinds of odds which boutique manufacturers are up against, but it should also serve as an example of why you should leave your ego out of the process of making cars. It also helps if you aren't completely delusional, but we'll get to that in a bit.

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The M12 was the last model which was actually built by Vector, but it is necessary to give a bit more history on the company if the car is to be understood. The first car built by Vector Motors founder Jerry Wiegert was nothing more than a design study. It was shown at the 1972 Los Angeles Auto Show, and even appeared on a cover of Motor Trend in that same year. The car was called the Vector, and plans were made for a number of different engines to be used for it, but in the end the whole project fizzled out. Then, in 1978, Wiegert started up again, producing the W2 prototype. The W2 used a twin-turbo Chevy 350 engine and produced a claimed 600 horsepower.
Top speed was claimed to be 200mph, although Vector never allowed this to be verified. The prototype was tweaked and repainted a number of times to create the impression that several different prototypes were being built and that the idea was being evolved. It wasn't until 1989 that an actual production car was made. The production model was called the W8, and was essentially an evolution of the now-outdated W2. This was built with money from lawsuits against Goodyear Tires and the Vantage cigarette company for infringing on the Vector name.
Also investing heavily in Vector was a company called Megatech, famous for flipping the Lamborghini brand, buying it from Chrysler for $40 million in 1994 and then selling it a few years later for $110 million. The company was owned was by the son of the president of Indonesia, and some Malaysian businessmen, although it seems that most of the money came from bank accounts in Bermuda. These investors, as well as others, got tired of waiting for Wiegert to actually build the cars he had designed, and accused him of using their money to finance his own luxurious lifestyle.
Another person who was growing impatient was tennis player Andre Agassi, who had ordered a W8 and paid $455,000 for it. When Vector finally delivered the car, it almost immediately caught fire, and Vector was forced to take it back and refund Agassi's money. Only 17 copies of the W8 were actually built, between 1989 and 1993, and in the interest of fairness, most did not catch fire. Following the W8 was the WX-3, a car which existed only in concept form. By 1993, Megatech had had all they could take from Wiegert, and since they were now majority shareholders, he was fired.
Wiegert responded by changing the locks on the Vector plant, hiring armed guards, and telling any press who would listen that he hadn't really been fired. Eventually, a judge forced him to hand the company over. After acquiring Lamborghini the following year, Megatech secured a new source for engines, and decided to build a new Vector model, the M12. This was largely based on the WX-3, but with a Lamborghini V12 in place of the Chevy unit. Jeremy Clarkson once called the M12 "the worst car in the world", and Megatech only sold 14 of them, less than Wiegert had sold of the W8.
Megatech shut down production, and it has since been reacquired by Wiegert, who was said to be planning another model, called the WX-8. The car was supposed to produce 1,850 horsepower and achieve a top speed of 275mph, but after the prototype was built, we haven't heard much about the car since 2008. He was still said to be looking for additional funding back then, and must not have found it. A weird spin campaign seems to be being waged on Vector's behalf on the internet. Wikipedia pages for the company, its cars and the people involved (mainly Wiegert) read like press releases, heaping praise on this failed company.
Vicious accusations are made of Andre Agassi and Megatech boss Tommy Suharto, blaming them for Vector's misfortune. To be fair, Suharto has been convicted of a number of crimes, including graft, the ordered killing of a Supreme Court judge; although he was never convicted of any wrongdoing in connection to Vector. The articles lack citations, and the few given are mostly dead links or links to other sites which allow user contributions but don't require citations, and these articles very closely resemble the Wikipedia article in style and wording.
There are notes to the effect that these articles don't meet Wikipedia's standards, and as of this writing, they were last edited yesterday. The whole story of Vector seems to be one of massive egos and questionable business practices. It's not the first company like this, and neither was it the last (remember the recent Mosler debacle?). It's difficult not to be suspicious of the motives involved, but in the end it seems like the work of a man who simply can't accept that he isn't brilliant.

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by Jacob Joseph
Boutique Supercars: Vector M12
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