Aston Martin Bulldog gets another chance to wedge its way past 200 mph

Jonathon Ramsey
Autoblog



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Tell us if this sounds familiar: In the mid-1970s, Aston Martin decided it wanted to prove its engineering prowess by building a car that would hit 200 miles per hour, so company designer William Towns penned the Bulldog DP K9 concept; in 1980, Aston Martin test drivers took the Bulldog to 191 mph at the MIRA test track, but the company was short on cash, so when Victor Gauntlett bought a 10% stake in the company and became chairman in 1981, he canceled the Bulldog program.

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The company sold the car to a Middle Eastern collector in 1982, while Gauntlett engineered a sales recovery and Aston Martin's return to the James Bond franchise. Now, 37 years later, Classic Motor Cars (CMC) in Bridgnorth, wants to show off its new engineering facility and prowess, and it intends to do so with the Bulldog.

CarBuzz picked up on the story that the concept's current owner sent the coupe to CMC for a nut-and-bolt restoration, expected to take roughly 18 months. After that, the Bulldog will take a run at its destiny, aiming for 200 mph, or even better, the 237 mph that Aston Martin engineers at the time said the car should do.   

 

The Bulldog's ultra-wedge shape, stretched over 186 inches and just 43 inches high, could not have come from any other decade. A panel on the front lowered to reveal five square headlights, while giant gull-wing doors doubled the car's height when opened. The interior, matching the Towns-designed Lagonda Series 2, showed off LED lights, buttons and touchscreens.

Designers put the 5.3-liter V8 from the front-engined "Oscar India" V8 Vantage into the middle of the Bulldog, then lashed two Garrett turbochargers on top, final output claimed to be 700 horsepower and 500 pound feet of torque. Shifting through a five-speed manual, the rear-wheel-drive, 3,814-pound coupe hit 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds.

If the Bulldog had achieved its target, it would have been the fastest production car in the world. The plan was to build up to 25 units for sale, which would pay for development costs said to exceed 1 million pounds at the time.

The restoration will return the concept to its original state, CMC's managing director adding that it "may include modern components and technology to improve the car's reliability." The original car, for instance, didn't have side mirrors; those were supposedly added by the Middle Eastern collector. The original was gray and white, not green, had a black interior instead of tan. The director said, "At the moment we are assuming that nothing on the car works, and I am sure that as we take it apart we will find all sorts of challenges." One of those challenges for the team of eight restorers will be parts, a fair number of which will likely need to be fabricated. CMC knows what it's doing, though, being the firm that Ian Callum tabbed to build his custom Mk2 Jaguar in 2014.

After the tilt at 200 mph, the Bulldog will head on tour around the world. Whether or not the Bulldog — named for an Aston engineer's Scottish Aviation Bulldog plane and Doctor Who's K9 robot dog — fulfills its destiny, we'll be cheering from here. 

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