How a Restored 1979 Aston Martin Bulldog Finally Hit Over 200 MPH

Nearly 45 years after the sleek Bulldog concept was born—and killed—it finally fulfilled its original mission.
Facebook/Classic Motor Cars

The 1979 Aston Martin Bulldog concept is one of the most famous Astons of all time. Not because it sold well or because it represented a milestone for the company, but because it looked darn cool in the’80s and it still looks darn cool now. In fact, the Bulldog never made it into production and the one-off concept was aborted after it failed to fulfill its original goal of reaching 200 mph. Now, almost 45 years after breaking cover, it’s finally completed its mission. It surpassed it, actually, reaching 205.4 mph on Tuesday.

The UK company in charge of the restoration, Classic Motor Cars Unlimited, announced on Facebook that it managed to break the 200-mph barrier at the Machrihanish airfield in Scotland this week. This fulfills the vision of Richard Gauntlett, the current project leader—who is ironically the son of the man who axed the Bulldog project back in the ’80s.

“What a day! 205.4 MPH we did it!!!!! A huge round of congratulations to all the Bulldog Team,” read the company’s post on Facebook. “After thousands of hours of restoration and preparation by the team at Classic Motor Cars Limited. The 40-year-plus wait is over for this car to achieve its original vision, it has happened today on a runway in Scotland. What a car, what a team!

“A special thank you to Bulldog’s owner Philip Sarofim, Darren Turner who drove it to its potential, and to Richard Gauntlet who carried forward the dream. A very proud day here at CMC!”

Facebook/Classic Motor Cars

The car was under CMC’s care during the restoration process, which was carefully monitored by Guantlett and the current owner Philip Sarofim. It involved a full overhaul of every aspect of the car, from mechanicals to the interior and, of course, keeping its iconic body true to the original. While the ultimate goal was to reach its top speed goal, the team did not want to alter the car’s original body and soul.

As you can imagine, bringing a 44-year-old car up to spec isn’t an easy task, but it’s even harder when said car was a one-off concept to begin with. A lot of the parts were never manufactured in large quantities by Aston, so many components had to be reproduced or reimagined. Plus, there’s always the fact that driving 200 mph is an intimidating thing to do in a new car, let alone a vintage one. So there was always a safety aspect to keep in mind.

Originally, the Bulldog’s target goal was set for 237 mph, but the Aston quickly realized that this would be extremely hard, if not near impossible. It’s unclear how many top speed tests it ran back in the day, but it’s reported that the highest speed it ever reached was 191 mph, well short of its original target. The goalpost was then moved to 200 mph, but the company hit financial trouble and the project ended up being shelved. Sure, 205.4 mph still isn’t 237, but it’s fantastic to see a car so unique and so rich in history hit such a magical number.

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