Time Machine: Vector - The Prototype
If you fancy exotic and powerful cars of the ‘90s, you definitely know about the American Vector supercar. It was a brainchild and a dream of engineer Jerry Wiegert who sadly passed away recently (January 15, 2021). The Vector story is long and complicated, full of interesting prototypes and unfinished projects. But how did it begin? Let us tell you about the least known Vector of all – the car that started it all.
Envisioned as a backlash to Italian super sportscars, the first Vector was made by Wiegert in 1971 as a 1:5 scale model. Soon enough he found Lee Brown and his Precision Auto located in Hollywood, California was the place to build a full-scale prototype.
According to the authentic brochure released by the company:
“Precision Auto has been dedicated to perfection in the field of race car preparation and sports car and import car performance and maintenance . By adhering to uncompromising standards of workmanship and service , Precision Auto has grown to a total automotive facility offering sales of some of today's finest sports and import cars , Triumph , Subaru , Saab , Renault and Peugeot - as well as mechanical expertise and what is perhaps the finest body and paint shop in Southern California.”
Not surprisingly it was a place that many celebrities brought their rides for good care. Among their clients were Steve McQueen, Dino Martin, Robert Wagner, James Coburn.
The Vector was intended to be based on Porsche chassis and a four-cam 2-liter 250 hp engine was planned to be mounted centrally. Naturally, Wiegert was a design man while Brown was responsible for the mechanical build. The car was planned to be revealed at Auto Expo ’72 in Los Angeles, however, there was no time to build a functional prototype, so for the show, a 1:1 model made of urethane foam was made. It was 4,038 cm (13’3”) long, 1,930 cm (76”) wide and just 99 cm (39”) high. They said that the car should tip the scales at just 1,700 lbs (771 kg) and hit a top speed of even 170 mph (273 km/h)! The duo planned to get proper financial backing and to make a 2200 lbs (998 kg) version powered by a 220 hp Wankel engine for 7500 USD.
Wieger and Brown thought to build a running show car around a tube space-frame and make its bodywork using fiberglass. However, before the showcar was finished a quarrel happened and the partners separated leaving Wiegert without the car. The unpleasant situation did not crush him and at the end of the ‘70s, he founded Vector Cars and built a Vector W2 that further initiated the long Vector saga.