Rare 1999 Vector M12 Supercar Heads To Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale

Fittingly, the corporate history of the ever-enigmatic Vector Motors is just as intriguing as the wild vaporwave twin-turbo doorstop supercars it produced. A condensed history of the company, including its pseudo-production Vector W8 and the subsequent stillborn Avtech WX-3, would be voluminous on the scale of War and Peace.  So for now, we’re fast-forwarding to the mid-1990s, where the Vector story almost takes off in earnest just before burning up as it breaches the atmosphere—and it’s all centered around hostile corporate takeovers, a despot’s son, and a new supercar with a Lamborghini V-12—a supercar you can bid on at Barrett-Jackson’s upcoming Scottsdale sale.

Vector Motors (then Vector Aeromotive) struggled in the early 1990s. The late Vector founder and chief engineer Jerry Wiegert accepted an investment from Megatech, an Indonesian firm head by Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of mononymic Indonesian president Suharto in 1993. Wiegert drank this new line of capital to put the finishing touches on his forthcoming WX-3 supercar, the successor to the infamous W8. MegaTech’s intentions for Vector moved far beyond Wiegert, and a hostile takeover by MegaTech execs forced him to step down—the subject of an episode of Seduced by Speed on the MotorTrend App.

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Weigert immediately told the existing Vector Aeromotive staff they were fired, hired armed guards, changed the locks on Vector’s California HQ, and barricaded himself inside until he was able to take legal action against the new owners of the company. While a barrage of lawsuits landed on MegaTech’s roof, Vector’s new management—on its own, without Wiegert’s involvement—set about building a new supercar. But since Wiegert retained the patents for the W-8 and WX-3, it needed a new basis.

Vector wasn’t the only cash-strapped supercar marque under MegaTech’s mega umbrella. Lamborghini was brought under Indonesian control in 1994, right in the midst of the Diablo’s product cycle. Since Wiegert’s Vector platforms were unattainable, the Diablo’s chassis was elongated and stretched to become the Vector M12.

Even the Diablo’s 5.7-liter V-12 was retained, though the five-speed manual transmission became a transaxle, swapping the Diablo’s front-mounted gearbox to a rear-mounted layout. With the same 492 hp and 425 lb-ft from the mighty V-12, performance was nearly on-par with the Diablo, though the Vector is both heavier and wider than the Lambo. Contemporary testing claimed a 0-60 mph run in the mid-four second range, with a 190 mph top speed.

Despite strong performance and financial backing, the M12 was doomed within a few years of its production debut in 1995. Sales weren’t exactly stellar—unsurprising, considering Lamborghini found it difficult to sell out of the faster, better built, and better-looking Diablo. After the extremely profitable sale of the Lamborghini brand to Audi in 1998, Vector was left without a source for its powertrains and platforms, and there wasn’t enough interest among the Indonesian management to continue the project. The M12 was shelved after 17 units, and the remaining Vector assets were returned to Wiegert soon after MegaTech moved on.

Fast forward to later this month, and you’ll have the rare opportunity to take home a Vector M12 of your own at Barrett-Jackson’s 2021 Scottsdale sale. This is a late model example, allegedly ordered and spec’d for the royal Brunei family in the classic black-over-red scheme, and was eventually sold into the expansive Larry Winkler collection that’s now up for grabs in its entirety through Barrett-Jackson.

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