The VigillanteTM ("VigTM") is a third generation design vehicle that began with the TriVetteTM in 1974. As with the TriVette, the Vig is designed as a vehicle that is optimized primarily for the driver (the same as a regular motorcycle). Like the TriVette, it also has a rear seat for the occasional passenger or luggage. The Vig carries the physics of the TriVette to the level of the ultimate street machine. The Vig is the quickest, fastest, meanest street legal production vehicle in the world. And, it is an American designed and built exotic.
The Vig is designed and hand-built just like a formula race car. It uses a very light weight aluminum, honeycomb, foam, and composite tub. The body work is a composite of aircraft fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber in an epoxy matrix. The front and rear tubular steel subframes are extremely light weight. The suspension links are tubes with rod ends. The wheels are competition aluminum alloy. Everything is designed to be race car light and strong. The result is a street legal exotic that weighs under 1,500 pounds. That's 50 pounds lighter than an Indy car. Yet, the Vig runs small block Chevy motors up to 700 horsepower (we're looking at an all-aluminum 800+ bhp big block option). That's about the same horsepower to weight ratio as an Indy Car. Imagine driving an Indy car on the street!
Here's what the Vig will do with a high performance street motor and high performance street tires:
_ 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds
_ The 1/4 mile in under 10 seconds at over 150 mph
_ 1 "g" cornering
_ Top speed over 200 mph
_ 60 to 0 mph braking in 120 feet
How does this compare with the other exotics? According to Road & Track magazine, the Ferrari F40 is the quickest street legal production vehicle they have tested. It runs 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, and the 1/4 mile in 11.8 seconds at 126 mph. The key to the Vigillante's performance is light weight, high horsepower, and proper physics. Pounds per horsepower is not a precise predictor of potential performance, but it is the most commonly used parameter, and it emphasizes that both weight and power are equally important. F=MA is a basic law of physics. It is a linear equation that shows that cutting the weight in half has the same effect on acceleration as doubling the horsepower. As every racer knows, weight is the enemy of performance. Most exotic cars simply weigh too much--the Vig weighs less than half of most exotic cars.
Like the TriVette, the Vig uses tandem seating. This provides a long, narrow, aerodynamic body shape like a jet fighter. It also places the driver in the center of the vehicle and provides the driver with the fantastic feel and visibility of driving a formula car on the street. The driver can see out both sides equally well without having to look around a passenger, and driving in the middle of the lane makes left and right hand corners symmetrical, like in a formula car. Optional fully enclosed or formula car open tops are available, or it can be driven as a completely open vehicle. Optional heater and air conditioner are available. These are not installed as standard items because they add weight. The instrument panel displays seven analog gauges, all fully visible from the driver position without interference from the quick-release steering wheel. The height of the dash and the height and reach of the steering column assembly can be adjusted to fit each individual driver. The steering wheel height can be adjusted relative to the dash assembly. The driver's seat can be attached to an optional integral roll bar safety cell that can be adjusted many ways to fit each driver. This roll bar safety cell is equipped with a full lap belt and shoulder harness. The shift lever is a fully gated B & M ProStick to give positive control over upshifts, and to eliminate any possibility of a missed shift. A racing fuel cell is incorporated into the passenger seat. Both the passenger and the fuel cell are located near the center of gravity so variations in loads will have minimal effect on the handling. Weight and balance calculations are done so that 95% of the total vehicle weight is on the rear drive tires at maximum acceleration, with only 5% on the front tire to provide steering control. The Vig is carefully designed so it can not do sustained "wheelies"; that would reduce the acceleration capabilities. This provides virtually the same acceleration capability as an all-wheel-drive design, but without the weight, cost and complexity. This is very similar to the way dragsters are designed. During maximum braking, approximately 1/3 of the total vehicle weight is on each tire. Since more than 1/2 of the total braking force is being done behind the center of gravity, the vehicle is dynamically stable and will not spin, even if all the wheels are locked up on a slick surface in a corner. The braking is absolutely phenomenal. There is no need for features like anti-lock braking when the weight and balance are correctly designed.
The front subframe is tubular steel and provides the control and suspension for the front tire. This is a modified leading link design that separates the steering and suspension functions. The unique steering has zero bump steer, can be adjusted to provide the desired amount of anti-dive braking, has an overall quickest steering ratio of 12 to 1 for instantaneous steering response, has very light steering loads that can be easily used in parking or on the freeway without the cost, complexity, power consumption or weight of power steering. The 12 to 1 ratio is the quickest ratio available, but it can be adjusted to slower ratios by changing the location of a single bolt. The front wheel can turn sharply enough so this 140 inch wheelbase vehicle can turn in a 10'4" radius. The long wheel base provides fantastic high speed stability and ride comfort, but it still has a small turning circle. The steering is so steady that at 140 mph going down the freeway, I can take my hands off the steering wheel. It's as straight as an arrow. Of course, we don't recommend that you do that at home.
The rear subframe is a tubular steel sub-assembly that provides the pickup points for the tube and rod end rear suspension, as well as the rubber cushion-mounted small block Chevy powertrain. The transmission/final drive is a modified GM 325 4L unit (a three speed GM 325 can also be used). The prototype runs a 2.41 final drive ratio that would yield 265 mph at 7,000 rpm. Numerically higher and lower ratios are available at customer request. Small block Chevy motors are available anywhere from the 345 hp GM ZZ1 motor or equivalent up to 700 hp+ turbocharged or race motors. The motor selected by the customer will determine the actual performance capabilities. The rear suspension uprights are aluminum castings, and the rear coil over shocks are dual on each side. The battery is also located low on the rear subframe to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. Wheels are typically aluminum modular racing wheels with high performance, low profile street tires.
The primary benefit of designing the Vig as a 3-wheeled vehicle is that, like the TriVettes, it is legally classified as a motorcycle in the U.S. As a domestically manufactured motorcycle, it can legally be driven on the street in this country (in most states) running a 750 cfm Holly double pumper carb. This is the way the Vig prototype passed inspection and is currently being driven. The Vig prototype completed all of the required inspections in February, 1993. It was licensed and insured shortly after that, and is currently being driven and tested on public highways. There are no on-board computers or anything else that would be difficult to service anywhere around the world by a competent mechanic.
The Vigillante is an extremely light weight, very high horsepower, ultimate performance, American made, street-legal exotic. Interior trim, seat selections, exterior color, and optional equipment are all selected to customer specifications. Each customer will special order their Vigillante with all of the options and colors of their choice. The basic structures of all Vigillantes are the same, of course, but optional equipment is not included in the base vehicle in order to keep it as light as possible. The Vigillante is hand built in very limited quantities.