Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 2008 Dream Car of the Month - Vector W8

Sorry for the delay this month. It's getting harder and harder to find unique cars worthy of the Dream Car of the Month.

For the month of November I've selected a rather unique car, the Vector W8. I don't know how many people know about this car as it's 15 minutes of fame really came and went around 20 years ago. The car was designed by Vector's founder Gerald Weichert in the 1970s. The Vector was really the first attempt by an American manufacturer to build a car to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. It didn't turn out well but the cars that resulted will be remembered for two things, their striking design and their outright failure.

The Vector W8 was the first real car from the company which was started in 1971 named Vehicle Design Force. After showing a model mock up in 1971 at the LA Auto Show, the company received some attention from the automotive press but nothing ever came out of it as the car was never produced. In 1978 the company, now known as Vector Aeromotive, designed and built the Vector W2, the predecessor to the W8. The W2 had a claimed top speed of over 230mph but no one was ever allowed to test these claims.

Vector W8

The Vector W8 was the first real "production" car from Vector Aeromotive and it went on sale in 1989. The company finally had secured some financial backing to begin building these cars, each of which was assembled by hand. The price for the W8 in 1989 was around $450,000 and a total of only 17 W8s were ever built for sale between 1989 and 1993. The most famous and disastrous one was sold to Andre Agassi which was subsequently bought back by the company after serious problems with the car. The company claimed that Agassi had demanded the car be delivered for his birthday but it was not finished. The company agreed to deliver the car for the party so he could show it off but warned him not to drive it until they could take it back and finish the work. Allegedly Agassi did not heed the warning which resulted in a near crash.

The Vector W8 featured an aluminum honeycomb semi monocoque structure covered by a body constructed mostly of carbon kevlar. Power was delivered by a racing V8 and a three speed automatic transmission. The engine used twin turbochargers to produce 625HP/650TQ. Top speed was only estimated at over 200MPH but the W2 prototype, powered by a less powerful engine, allegedly reached 242MPH at Bonneville Salt Flats.

Vector/Avtech WX-3R

The company was to follow up the W8 with the WX-3 and WX-3R but they were never produced as the company was taken over in 1993 by Megatech, which at the time owned Lamborghini. Megatech did release a version of the WX-3 with a Lamborghini Diablo V12 in it called the Vector M12. Unfortunately only 14 of these cars were produced by the time the company folded in 1996.

Vector M12

Gerald Weichert eventually won back the rights to the company, now named Vector Supercars, and has displayed a new car the WX-8. Not much is known about the car except what was given when the car was shown. Top speed target is 275+MPH with a 0-60 time of under 3 seconds and a 1/4 mile of 10 seconds at 160MPH. Many doubt it will ever be produced.

Vector WX-8

The Vector W8 is such an outrageous design it could never be mistaken for any other car on the road, if they were produced in such numbers where you could actually see one in person in your lifetime. It was, and still is, one of the most striking designs I've ever seen even if it looks a bit dated today. But so do the Lamborghinis and Ferraris of the time. Unfortunately, the company just didn't have the funds to properly develop what could have been America's first supercar.

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