Despite being short-lived in production, the Vector W8 was the product of nearly two decades of design and development, beginning in 1972. The driving force was Gerald Weigert, who founded a design firm called Vehicle Design Force. Working with designer Lee Brown, the fledgling company’s first design was the Vector, imagined as an American alternative to the radical, mid-engine Italian “supercars” of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A non-running prototype debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1972, but almost immediately, the effort was beset by the departure of Brown. Series production was planned, with a $10,000 purchase price quoted for the Vector. Despite earning a Motor Trend cover, the original Vector was shelved in favor of a new car in 1978, dubbed the W2. A running W2 prototype was ready in 1979 and accumulated 100,000 miles at the hands of motor journalists, most notably testers from Motor Trend and Britain’s Top Gear television program.
Company personnel claimed a 230-mph top speed for the W2, yet they prohibited Top Gear from making any top-speed runs with the prototype. A stock issue, followed by successful lawsuits against Goodyear and the maker of Vantage Cigarettes for trademark infringement, funded development of the W8, Vector’s definitive model of the 1980s and early 1990s.
More closely akin to a contemporary endurance-racing machine than a road car, the W8 featured aggressively wedge-shaped aluminum bodywork with upward-tilting doors and an overall design theme reminiscent of the Marcello Gandini-designed Bertone Carabo show car of 1968. A mid-mounted, Chevrolet-derived 6.0-liter V8 engine supplied power, rated at 625 hp with fuel injection and twin turbochargers, while a three-speed automatic transmission provided reliable shifts.
Boardroom power struggles, inadequate capitalization and a deep recession conspired to halt production in 1992, with estimates of 22 units ultimately built. With extremely low mileage from new, this Midnight Blue/black example comes from the Hooper Corporate Collection and has been on display since new as one of the prized exhibits in the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany.
Chassis 007, the car offered here, is the last W8 of the first body design with the sharp nose. It is in superb, virtually brand-new condition, just the way it left the factory – a wonderful example of the vehicle described by Motor Trend as “America’s Forgotten Supercar.” It is remarkably easy to drive and handles superbly well. It is very well equipped with multi-functional Recaro seats and a very advanced stereo system. From its radical semi-monocoque aluminum chassis to its sinister bodywork and cockpit reminiscent of contemporary fighter aircraft and bar graph instrumentation, the W8 will doubtless continue to provoke discussion wherever it is displayed.