The Vector M12 has one of the most fascinating back-stories of any American car ever made. It was produced after a hostile takeover of Vector by the son of a military dictator, who also happened to own Lamborghini at the time.

As a result of all this, the Vector M12 is essentially based on a lengthened Lamborghini Diablo chassis and powered by the same V12 engine. The body and interior were completed by Vector, and it was marketed as an American supercar.

Fast Facts – The Vector M12

  • Vector was a uniquely American supercar manufacturer that operated under a number of names, and a number of owners, from 1971 until 2021. It was founded by visionary designer and engineer Gerald Wiegert, who designed many of the firm’s cars, did much of the marketing, and never gave up on the dream right till the time of his passing in early 2021.
  • The Vector M12 is a car that was developed from the foundations of the earlier Vector AWX-3. Much of the development happened after a hostile takeover of the company by MegaTech, a company largely owned and controlled by the youngest son of former President Suharto of Indonesia, a man widely considered to have been a military dictator.
  • At this time, Megatech also owned Lamborghini, and as a result of this they had the Vector AWX-3 body modified and built on the platform of the Lamborghini Diablo. This created an unusual American-Italian supercar that debuted in 1995.
  • Just 17 examples of the Vector M12 would be built, 14 of those being production cars. Andre Agassi famously owned one (very briefly) and they sold for $184,000 USD apiece – the equivalent to $375,000 USD today.

The Turbulent Tale Of Vector Aeromotive

Vector has a history that falls very much inline with the tumultuous happenings at other unique North American automotive start ups, like Tucker, Bricklin, and DeLorean. There never seemed to be enough time or money or production volume, and the story ended in a familiar maelstrom of financial chaos and burned investors.

Above Video: This is the original Top Gear segment on the Vector M12, presented by Jeremy Clarkson in 1998. The car you see in this segment is the same vehicle shown in this article and now being offered for sale.

The company that would become Vector was originally founded in 1971 as Vehicle Design Force by young engineer from Dearborn, Michigan named Gerald Wiegert. Over the course of the 1970s and into the 1980s the company would release a number of wildly futuristic supercar prototypes, and change their name to the name of their first prototype – the Vector.

A number of cars were shown at major motor shows and covered in period magazines, and on the automotive TV shows of the time. This all attracted a surge in interest from the American public. What Vector struggled, sadly, with was the process of getting cars into series production and selling them to that same American public.

The company’s most successful car, perhaps arguably, was the Vector W8 which debuted in 1989. 17 were made and the combination of futuristic styling, exceptional performance, and true scarcity made them a hit among those who could afford one.

The next production car released by Vector would be their most controversial, it was called the M12, and if on hearing one you could have sworn it sounded like a Diablo v12, you would have been more right than you knew.

The Vector M12

It’s been described as a “mid-nineties Lambo in drag” and it’s not hard to see why. The M12 carried over the wild styling of the Vector family, based largely on the earlier Vector AWX-3 prototype, but it wasn’t developed by Gerald Wiegert.

Vector M12 17

Image DescriptionThe styling of all Vector supercars was incredibly futuristic by the standards of the time they were made. If quality control and production issues could have been solved, Vector could very well have been an American answer to Ferrari.

In 1993 a Vector investor, a company named MegaTech, performed a hostile takeover of the company. MegaTech was largely owned and controlled by Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of President Suharto of Indonesia, and it seemingly had an unending supply of capital.

A few months later in 1994, MegaTech bought Lamborghini for $40 million from Chrysler. The company had managed to take ownership of one of the largest European supercar manufacturers, and one of the most famous American supercar manufacturers, in less than a year.

The body design of the Vector AWX-3 was then, somehow, made to fit over a lengthened Lamborghini Diablo chassis, and all the major Lamborghini parts remained in place including the suspension, brakes, and engine.

Perhaps the biggest insult to Vector founder Gerald Wiegert was that the use of his surname initial “W” was dropped from prototype and production Vectors from this point on, replaced with an “M” for MegaTech. As a result, the new production car from the company was called the Vector M12.

The M12 was loved by some in the automotive media and slated by others, there were undeniable issues with fit, finish, and build quality. The performance of the car was impressive by the standards of the time, with a top speed of 304 km/h (189 mph) and a 0 – 62 mph time of 4.8 seconds.

Vector M12 8

Image DescriptionThe fit and finish of the cars did look good by the standards of the 1990s, however there were some well-publicized issues with trim quality.

The Lamborghini V12 produced 492 bhp at 5,200 rpm and 425 lb ft of torque at 4,900 rpm, and it tipped the scales at 1,633 kgs (3,600 lbs). In total, just 17 would be built between 1995 and 1999, this was due in part to the $189,000 asking price in 1995 dollars ($375,000 today), and the difficulty in actually getting your car once you had paid.

The production run was interrupted by MegaTech selling Lamborghini to Audi, which effectively cut off the supply of engines, though this was due to non-payment rather than any animosity on the side of Lamborghini or Audi.

It’s not known how many Vector M12s have survived to the modern day, they only come up for sale rarely, and they are sought out by a very particular breed of collectors.

Wiegert did manage to wrest back control of his company, and he developed the Vector WX-8 in the 2000s. This was a new supercar powered by a supercharged 10.0 liter all-aluminum V8 that had a claimed output of 1,850 bhp offering a claimed top speed of 275 mph (443 km/h). It never made it into production however.

The Vector M12 Shown Here

The Vector M12 you see here is the 4th of the 14 production cars that were made, and interestingly it was driven by Jeremy Clarkson in a period Top Gear segment.

Vector M12 3

Image DescriptionThe extreme rarity of the Vector M12, combined with its unusual history and exceptional performance make it a might sought after classic supercar.

This vehicle has 4,400 miles on the odometer and it has air conditioning, a custom exhaust system, and of course, it’s powered by that mid-mounted 5.7 liter Lamborghini V12 which is mated to a ZF 5-speed manual transaxle.

The car is now being offered for sale out of Osprey, Florida with service invoices from current ownership, an owner’s manual, Vector signage, the original exhaust system, a clean Carfax report, and a clean Florida title. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Bring as Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -