Vector W8

Automotive gamblers could easily lose their shirts on this one. Only 19 Vector W8s were built, hardly anyone has ever seen one — and anyone who did spot a W8 for the first time would bet anything that this low-slung, jet-age flying wedge was of Italian origin. Pay up!

For California-based Vector Aeromotive was American through and through; the W2 prototype and W8 production model were designed by Gerald Wiegert (also American through and through), both using the USA’s most advanced aerospace materials. The hand-built two-door car had an aluminium honeycomb semi-monocoque chassis, and bodywork was fabricated in carbon fibre, kevlar and epoxy resin glass matrix.

The Vector W8 was assembled using thousands of aircraft-style rivets. The engine was a Chevy Rodeck V8 racing special with twin turbochargers, belting out a modest 625 bhp.

The power was put down by a three-speed modified B&M transmission with a ratchet shifter. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, a racing suspension set-up and large ventilated disc brakes dealt with handling matters. A steel roll cage protected the occupants from high-speed disaster and there was a removable sunroof for those who liked a gentle breeze ruffling their hair.

In a speed test at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, a W8 with high-downforce wing left 200 mph (322 km/h) far behind. Aerodynamic efficiency was further enhanced with changes like a lower front fascia and air splitter, plus a revised rear spoiler that increased downforce without the need to use the massive rear wing inherited from the W2.

There were minor changes to the body during the production run, so no two Vector W8s were exactly the same. Sadly for this bold venture, buyers were thin on the ground and the company folded in 1992 before the truly sensational WX-3 coupe and roadster prototypes could go into production.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

USA

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1989 (until 1992)

ENGINE:

6.0 l (365 cid) V8 Twin Turbo

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed of 242 mph (389 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.2 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

After Vector Aeromotive ceased trading the newly formed Vectors Motors Corporation moved to Florida and put the Vector M12 into production — it was an unqualified disaster with just 14 cars built. Meanwhile, rumour suggests designer Gerald Wiegert is now quietly working on a new supercar.

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