For all its quirky styling, the Vector M12 is not that unusual under the skin. The engine is a 5.7-litre, 500bhp V12, borrowed – along with many other oily bits – from Lamborghini. Open one of its scissor doors, and you’ll find an interior awash with bits and pieces (including a steering wheel) from the Ford Taurus.
But the story behind the M12? That’s rather weird. The company can be traced back to 1971 when American businessman and engineer Gerald Wiegert created Vehicle Design Force, which would eventually evolve into Vector. Wiegert, however, would be forced out of his own company in the early 1990s when a company called MegaTech wrestled control away from him.
MegaTech had previously invested millions, but when the funding dried up, Vector’s financial position looked decidedly dicey. The board of directors voted to fire Wiegert (he went on to claim some of them had been bribed), and although he attempted to stay on board by changing the locks to the factory, shutting himself inside and hiring armed guards, it wasn’t enough. The courts decided the company belonged to MegaTech.
Bermuda-registered MegaTech was the concern of Tommy Suharto, son of Suharto, Indonesia’s second president who’s considered by many to have been a dictator. MegaTech also owned Lamborghini at the time, hence the source of the V12 engine supply for the M12, Vector’s first vehicle since the hostile takeover.
Vector wasn’t ever able to sell the car in big numbers, however – just 17 were built, with only 14 making the grade as proper production vehicles. The final nail in the coffin came in 1998 when Lamborghini – ownership of which had been transferred to Tommy Suharto’s V’Power Corporation – was sold to Audi.
Vector’s Lamborghini parts supply was cut off. The SRV8 with its heavy use of American components – including a GM LT1 V8 – was intended to be the solution, but the writing was on the wall.
Vector was shut down and hasn’t built a production car since. Gerald Wiegert was able to buy back many of the company’s assets to create Vector Motors, but the 1850bhp 10-litre V8-powered prototype hypercar it revealed in 2008 has – unsurprisingly – turned out to be vapourware. As for Tommy Suharto’s post-Vector activities, in 2002 he was found guilty of organising the assassination of a supreme court judge who’d convicted him of corruption.
If you have a few hundred thousand stuffed away to splash out on a very 1990s supercar, you really ought to make it a Lamborghini Diablo. But if you’re wooed by the quirky looks of the M12 and its strange origins, you could put a bid on the car you see here.
It’s the fifth M12 built, and has covered just 6000 miles thanks to being “sparingly driven”. It’s due to go under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction on 15 August, with an estimate of $250,000 – $300,000.
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