HomeNews and EventsRestored Bulldog hits 162 mph in shakedown run

Restored Bulldog hits 162 mph in shakedown run

1980 Aston Martin concept car was designed to top 200 mph but never got the chance

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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.

Aston Martin, Restored Bulldog hits 162 mph in shakedown run, ClassicCars.com Journal
Woodward discusses first run with Gauntlett (wearing cap) and engineer Brett Eggar

“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.

Larry Edsall
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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The bulldog resided here in Arizona for the better part of the 80s decade. Was taken apart when the clutch went out, set in storage for a couple of years before it was actually put back together and drove with weber side draft carburetors before it was shipped back to England wonderful backstory to this vehicle. It is very exciting to see you back on the road and I am 100% sure it as well capable of more than 200 miles an hour.

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