The Aston Martin Bulldog was a futuristic supercar that wanted to be the first to smash the 200 mph barrier. It never quite achieved that benchmark amidst troubled times for the luxury automaker. Now, over 40 years later, redemption is in hand, as the Bulldog prepares to finally crest the double ton.
As reported by Road and Track, Aston Martin's fallen hero now has a date with destiny. The gullwinged supercar is scheduled to head out to Machrihanish Airfield in Scotland on June 6. Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner will pilot the Bulldog for the run as it attempts to fulfill its original design goal. With three class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans under his belt, Turner has a resume befitting the job.
The Bulldog had its public debut in 1979. Penned by William Towns, it bore a striking wedge design that seemed to take the design language from the bonkers Lagonda sedan another 20 years into the future. Armed with a mighty 5.3-liter twin-turbo V8, it was capable of delivering up to 700 horsepower on the test bed. Sadly, though, Aston Martin's financial situation led to the cancellation of the project in 1981 when Victor Gauntlett took charge of the company. The Bulldog had only gotten tantalizingly close to its target, hitting 191 mph in a shakedown run in 1980 with just 400 hp on tap.
After years in the wilderness, the car came back to public attention in late 2021, when its present owners began restoring the one-of-one concept to its former glory. Having been mothballed for years and passed through several owners, the car was purchased by American businessman Philip Sarofim. He charged British firm Classic Motor Cars with the task, with a goal to finally get the Bulldog across the 200 mph milestone. Ironically, Richard Gauntlett would take part in the work—the son of the man who canceled the project in the first place.
The car's first shakedown saw it reach 162 mph in December 2021. Since then, more recent runs have seen the Bulldog exceeding 170 mph. Along the way, the team has worked to gradually improve the car to ensure it's capable of reaching 200 mph safely. Wherever possible, the restoration effort has focused on respecting the original design, and strengthening weaker parts rather than replacing them.
The Bulldog missed its original window to be the first production car to cross 200 mph. After all this time, it's great to see this futuristic wedge finally getting to live out its true purpose. It should be a wonderful reminder of what could have been.
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