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Vector WX-3 Prototypes: Spotted

They've already seen the underside of an auction hammer, but Aeromotive's inventiveness is still worthy of attention

By Dafydd Wood / Tuesday, January 22, 2019

You'd be forgiven for never having heard of Vector, the wacky supercar manufacturer that once billed itself as America's answer to Ferrari and Lamborghini. Founded in 1971 by Gerald Wiegert and his Vehicle Design Force, the company produced angular, spaceage supercars using aerospace-grade materials and fighter jet-esq styling. It even went as far as rebranding itself the 'Vector Aeromotive Corporation'.

While its most successful offering was arguably the 1989 W8, of which 17 examples were built, it's that car's successors which have caught our eye. The prototype WX-3 and its WX-3R (R for Roadster, obviously) sibling both went under the hammer at Sotherby's Arizona auction last week. And it's not hard to see why they garnered so much interest.

The design of the WX-3 prototype was first unveiled at the 1992 Geneva Motor Show, but it wouldn't be till the following year that Vector was able be to display a fully functioning car. By that point it was joined on the stand by the convertible WX3-R, the pair wearing their distinctive purple and teal paint schemes in order to match the logo of Wiegert's other company, Aquajet jet-skis.

The cars were far more than a mere marketing stunt, though. Having cost over $1,000,000 to develop, the WX-3 boasted an advanced carbon fibre and Kevlar construction, ground-breaking sequential gearbox and futuristic design elements like its triangular wing mirrors, in-door windows (eat your heart out McLaren Senna) and three person bench seat. It was powered by a mid-mounted 7.0-litre V8 producing 1,000hp for a claimed 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds and a 248mph top speed.

The Roadster, by comparison, made use of the powertrain already familiar from the successful W8. It featured a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V8 for a top speed described as "well in excess of 200mph". While it also bore the same scissor doors and pop-up headlights as the Coupe, its more rounded nose, lower profile wing and unique internally-mounted door mirrors, made for a more aerodynamically efficient profile.

Despite both cars seemingly being capable of matching the relative success of their predecessors, trouble was just around the corner for Vector. Indonesian firm Megatech - which purchased Lamborghini for $40 million in 1994 before selling it to VW in 1998 - attempted a hostile takeover, which resulted in Wiegert losing control of the company. Fortunately, he was able to retain possession of his prototypes, meaning that although they never entered production, they've clearly seen a great deal of use, the odometer of the Roadster reading a respectable 89,008 miles. Now he's back in charge of Vector once more, and put the pair up for sale to raise funds for the development of a new model, the WX-8.

That they've already gone under the hammer would normally exclude them from consideration as a Spotted, but highlighting their existence - and life story - proved too good an opportunity to pass up. Besides, with the auction over, we're in the rare position of knowing how much they actually ended up going for. The estimates for both lots stood at $450,000 - $550,000 and while the Coupe split those figures, selling for $500k, bidding on the Roadster carried on all the way up to a whopping $615,500.

That may be some way short of the $3.5 million that the pair was apparently valued at, but it does mean that the WX3-R sold for nearly $100k more than Lamborghini's new limited-run Aventador SVJ. So it could be said then, that in some small way, Wiegert's dream of beating the Italian's at their own game came true in the end.

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