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Home Garage British Bulldog in restoration, speed run anticipated

British Bulldog in restoration, speed run anticipated

Aston Martin created the one-off car in 1980 but fell just short of 200 mph goal

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Back in 1980, William Towns designed the Aston Martin Bulldog, a one-off concept car created to showcase the British automaker’s engineering excellence. The goal was to exceed 200 mph.

The car got close to that goal. It had gone 191 mph on Britain’s MIRA testing track when Victor Gauntlett became Aston Martin Lagonda chairman and pulled the plug on the project in 1981.

And now, 40 years later, the car is being restored and when that work is completed, Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner will see how fast it can go, according to Classic Motor Cars, the British workshop that began the 18-month restoration of the Bulldog in September 2020.

Bulldog undergoing restoration

Ironically, the car’s restoration is being overseen on behalf of the car’s owner by Richard Gauntlett, Victor Gauntlett’s son.

“The car is well on the way to being restored and CMC will have it running by the end of the year,” Richard Gauntlett is quoted in the CMC news release. 

“We will then attempt the record that never was.  A critical part of this was finding the right driver for the job and someone that could get involved in overseeing the final elements of the project, in terms of set up and testing. I am delighted that Darren Turner who has been an Aston Martin works and high-performance development driver for more than 15  years has agreed to join the team.”

Darren Turner | Drew Gibson photo

“I had heard of the legend of Bulldog from within Aston Martin and when news started to filter out about the car being restored to go for the 200mph target, I thought that was such a cool thing to do,” Turner is quoted. 

“I was following the story and thinking that it would be great to be involved in. When I was asked to drive it, I didn’t need to be asked twice! I’m looking forward to becoming part of the story of bringing Bulldog back to life and finally achieving what it set out to achieve all those years ago.”

After receiving the Bulldog, the team at CMC discovered that the 40-year-old vehicle lacked the torsional rigidity that is common in such vehicles today, and also lacked roll-over protection. An internal cage was designed and will be concealed within the car to correct both issues without interrupting the car’s originality, CMC said. 

Restoration includes enhancing car’s structure

“For a vehicle with such enormous performance, we felt this was an essential safety improvement to allow the car to be driven in the manner for which it was designed,” said Nigel Woodward, managing director of Classic Motor Cars.

“When you first see Bulldog, it appears to be a flat faceted design,” he added, “but it’s not. The car has subtle compound curves in many of its body panels and it is essential that we retain those as we rebuild the car.”

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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