Jerry Wiegert, the founder of the enigmatic American supercar, Vector, has passed away at 76. He left us late last week in Los Angeles with few details released regarding the cause of death. Wiegert first rose to fame within the automotive sphere in the early ‘70s working as a design consultant for the big-three American automakers, while simultaneously solidifying plans to develop an American supercar capable of going up against the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. It was known as the Vector W2, and later the Vector W8.
Originally, the concept was supposed to use a Wankel rotary engine for propulsion, but by the time the Vector W2 finally showed up in 1978, it had a twin-turbo 5.7L aluminum small-block running a Bosch fuel-injection system. Wiegert claimed the Vector W2 made 600 hp and over 600 ft-lbs of torque, with a claimed top speed of 242 mph.
For the next ten years, Wiegert put some 200,000 miles on the Vector W2, driving it around from auto show to auto show in an effort to find someone to fund his project.
By the late 80s, the company had started referring to itself as an “Aeromotive Engineering” firm and issued a public stock offering in order to fund its new project, the Vector W8. The futuristic-looking body sat on top of a monocoque chassis and housed an ex-Can-Am 6.0L V8 with a pair of Garrett snails strapped on.
The car was supposed to be good for 625 hp on 8psi of boost, and a claimed 1,200 horses when you cranked boost pressure to 14 using the driver-adjustable dial.
Apparently, each car took some 4,000 hours to build, and the company was quickly burning through millions of dollars at the time. Only 17 Vector W8 supercars were ever built and sold. And apparently, they had a knack for breaking and catching fire. Eventually, the company went through a highly prolific take over by Megatech, who also owned Lamborghini at the time.
Unfortunately for Megatech, the company couldn’t actually produce the W8 because Wiegert had personally retained the patents for the car.
Instead, Vector rolled out the Vector M12 which was powered by a Lamborghini V12 borrowed from the Diablo. It was unveiled at the 1996 North American International Auto Show to much fanfare, but that was the company’s high watermark. Only 14 M12s were ever built before Vector was sold off and sold off again until Wiegert eventually got the rights to the name back.
Once upon a time, Lamborghini was apparently given a W8 still personally owned by Wiegert as payment for a batch of V12 engines. Jerry then sued Lamborghini to get his car back and even though he won the case, Lamborghini, now owned by Volkswagen, allegedly refused to give the car back.
The last time Jerry Wiegert and Vector were really in the public eye was in 2008 when he showed off the WX8 prototype at the LA Auto Show. It was planned with a 10L V8 that projected to make 1,850 hp and would hammer all the way to 275 mph.
So that’s that. We’ve unfortunately lost another automotive legend this week, rest in peace Jerry Wiegert.