Vector M12, the American Devil linked to Indonesian dictators

Vector was an American supercar manufacturer that had various names and owners, from 1971 to 2021. He founded it Gerald Wiegert, a visionary engineer from Dearborn, Michigan, who designed many of the company's cars and did much of the marketing. He never gave up on his dream, until he passed away in early 2021.

He Vector M12 It was possibly the best of his creations and has one of the most fascinating stories of American automobiles behind it. Let's go back to 1993. One of Vector's investors was a company called MegaTech, which conducted a hostile takeover. MegaTech was owned by Tommy Suharto, youngest son of the president of Indonesia – more like a military dictator – with a (seemingly) endless supply of capital.

Months later, in 1994, MegaTech bought Lamborghini to Chrysler for 40 million dollars. In less than a year, they controlled one of the largest European supercar manufacturers and one of the most famous American supercar manufacturers.

It was then that they took the platform of the Lamborghini Diablo and placed on top a body of the Vector AWX-3 prototype, a model that had not ultimately been developed by Gerald Wiegert. This created an unusual American-Italian supercar that debuted in 1995, of which only 17 units, 14 of them production cars. They were sold at the time for $184,000 (equivalent to $375,000 today).

The name and characteristics of the M12

Perhaps the company's most successful automobile was the Vector W8, which debuted in 1989, which combined excellent performance, futuristic style and scarcity (only 17 were made). The “W” in the name was for Vector's founder, Gerald Wiegert. With this model the Vectors, from this moment on, replaced the name with the “M” for MegaTech.

The Vector M12 was praised and criticized in equal measure. And despite its undeniable performance figures, it accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and reached 304 km/h. The V12 Lamborghini engine delivered 492 HP at 5,200 rpm and 576 Nm of torque at 4,900 rpm… in a car that weighed 1,633 kg.

The Vector AWX-3's body design was modified to fit over a lengthened Lamborghini Diablo chassis, and all of the Lambo's major parts remained untouched, including the suspension, brakes and engine. The Vector M12 was defined as the “Lambo drag of the mid-nineties” and we can't think of a better definition.

Here's the good part… The bad: there were undeniable issues with fit, finish and build quality… which were also highly publicized. Had those quality control and production failures been resolved, could Vector have been America's answer to Ferrari? We will never know that. Even if you wanted it (Andre Agassi, legendary tennis player, had one), it was difficult to get it once you had paid for it.

That chaotic production was interrupted when MegaTech sold Lamborghini to Audi. This stopped the supply of engines, although due more to lack of payments than to possible reluctance on the part of Lamborghini or Audi.

The Vector V12 up for auction

Very few units were manufactured (it is unknown how many Vector M12s have survived to this day) and they rarely go on sale. That's why they are highly valued. But there is always an exception, like the unit whose images illustrate this article.

It is the fourth of the 14 production units that were manufactured and, curiously, it was driven by Jeremy Clarkson on the Top Gear program in 1998:

This unit of the Vector M12 barely has 4,400 miles on its odometer (just over 7,000 km) and has air conditioning, a custom exhaust system and, of course, is powered by the Lamborghini 5.7-liter V12 in a central position, mated to a ZF 5-speed manual transmission.

The car had service bills from the current owner and included the owner's manual, original exhaust system, a clean Carfax report… and was sold last April 22, 2024 for 295,000$ ($275,000 at the current exchange rate), so it almost resists the inflation of these decades.

Wiegert's extra ball

Wiegert managed to regain control of his company and developed the Vector WX-8 in the 2000s. This was a new supercar powered by an all-aluminum 10.0-liter supercharged V8 that had a claimed power of 1,850 hp and offered a top speed of 443 km/h.

However, it was never produced. With the death of Gerald Alden “Jerry” Wiegert, the company would end its history full of turbulent events, as also happened with other emerging American automotive companies such as Tucker, Bricklin or DeLorean. They all lacked time, money or production capacity… but in this case the unique style of the Vector supercars remained, incredibly futuristic by the standards of the time in which they were created.

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