The 1996 Vector M12, an Elusive Supercar (Part II)

Today is the second portion of the Vector story, which we began in our most recent Rare Rides post. Troubled from the start, the company underwent a hostile takeover by a firm called MegaTech, and fired its founder almost immediately.

The first MegaTech-developed product is our subject vehicle ⁠— the long and low M12. With an NAIAS debut in 1996, it seemed like Vector had a promising immediate future. Or did it?

After contribution from engineers at Vector and MegaTech’s other brand, Lamborghini, the new M12 ditched American power in favor of the 5.7-liter V12 from the Diablo. Said engine was mounted in front of the manual transmission, which was the opposite of the Diablo. Horsepower rang in at 492, with 425 lb-ft of torque. Sixty miles an hour arrived in 4.8 seconds and the M12 went on to a top speed of 189 mph.

A visual redesign was required before the M12 could go on sale. The new MegaTech Vector could not use the existing WX-3 design as it belonged to Gerald Wiegert. MegaTech called Peter Stevens, the man behind the McLaren F1, the redesign of the Lotus Esprit, and the Jaguar XJR-15.

Design finally ready, the M12 started production in 1995. It went on sale with an asking price of $189,000; considerably cheaper than its grandfather, the W3. But production didn’t last long. Sales didn’t come in as expected, and the company ran out of money during Indonesia’s financial crisis. MegaTech went looking for funds and found them in Germany: Audi was interested in Lamborghini, and ultimately purchased its assets in 1998. Vector also switched hands, returning to internal management as MegaTech left the picture, its owner in legal trouble.

Newly independent, Vector built the M12 once more. By 1999, a total of 14 M12s existed. Other M12s sat without their Lamborghini engines, as Vector never paid for them. Some engines were located eventually, and by the end of 1999 the M12 wrapped up its production. 17 total examples sped away the Floridian factory.

Vector planned to start production once more by cutting costs. The expensive Lamborghini power plant was ditched in favor of a GM LT1. Voila, the SRV8. But just days after the prototype’s debut, Vector closed down. Time for an ownership change: Vector Aeromotive’s assets were sold to a new company called American Aeromotive. All was returned to whence it originated: Gerald Wiegert was once again at the helm. He changed the company’s name to Avtech Motors, and then to Vector Supercars, then to Vector Motors.

The thrice-born company’s first product was the WX-8, which wore Supra headlamps and some very prototype looking bodywork. It debuted in 2006, 2007, and most recently at the 2008 LA Auto Show. Powered by a supercharged 10-liter V8 with an output of over 2,000 horsepower, top speed was claimed at 275 miles per hour. Though never built, it still exists as a real thing on the company’s website.

Today’s Rare Ride subject is a 1996 version of the M12 wearing utterly terrible OZ Racing wheels. With 6,000 miles on the odometer, it goes on sale in Monterey on Friday, August 16th. Price is estimated at $250,000 or more, which will be the most anyone ever paid for a car wearing Cavalier tail lamps.

[Images: RM Sotheby’s]

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