In 1980, Aston Martin created a one-off concept car called the Bulldog with a goal of exceeding 200 mph. But after getting close — 191 mph — the company’s new chairman halted the program.
The car was sold and was rarely seen until two years ago when it was acquired by Phillip Sarofim, who commissioned Classic Motor Cars of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England, to restore the car in hopes to taking it to and beyond the 200-mph goal.
Ironically, the restoration effort involves Richard Gauntlett, whose father, Victor, was that new Aston Martin chairman who stood on the brakes back in 1981.
Recently, Classic Motor Cars was awarded the restoration of the year trophy by the Royal Automobile Club and just days later, the Bulldog was driven at speed for the first time, reaching 162 mph during a shakedown sprint at the royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton in Somerset.
“Seeing the car run like this for the first time in forty years is a dream come true,” Richard Gauntlett was quoted in a news release from Classic Motor Cars. “I grew up with the car, I had a poster of it on my bedroom wall.”
Classic Motor Cars managing director Nigel Woodward was at the Bulldog’s wheel for the shakedown run.
“There is still much to do but Saturday’s session not only validated the car but also provided a lot of very useful data,” he said. “The fact that without trying, and in the teeth of a 50 mph crosswind we sailed through the 160 mph mark in only ¾ of a mile, at reduced boost and on partial throttle says much. It was only a lack of bravery on my part and the fact that we were still evaluating the car that prevented us going faster.”
Plans call for another test run at the Navy Air Station yet this year or early in 2022 before the car attempts the 200-mph target set more than 40 years ago.