Someone wants to take the only Aston Martin Bulldog past 200mph

27th February 2020
Bob Murray

Aston Martin’s ultimate 1970s supercar statement – a dramatic wedge of twin-turbocharged V8 performance called the Bulldog – is to run in anger again in a bid to prove it really is a 200mph car. Why? Because in late 1979 the Bulldog recorded 192mph at the MIRA test track, well short of the wildly optimistic 237mph that Aston had suggested it could achieve.


Before the one-and-only Bulldog ever built runs, however, it is being subjected to an 18-month nut-and-bolt rebuild. It is reported today that when the work is complete, the unnamed owner of the futuristic rarity plans to drive it at over 200mph before taking the car on a world tour.

In recent years the William Towns-designed car has kept a low profile. The last time we saw the Bulldog at Goodwood was at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard in 2009 when it featured in the Cartier Style et Luxe concours – appropriately for such an angular design, in the class of cars called ‘Serious Wedge’.

Today’s news that the owner has commissioned Classic Motor Cars of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, to rebuild the car promises that one of the most memorable of 1970s British designs will again be in the spotlight as the fully-functioning supercar that Aston always intended it would be.

Tim Griffin (left) and Nigel Woodward (right) of Classic Motor Cars Bridgnorth.

Tim Griffin (left) and Nigel Woodward (right) of Classic Motor Cars Bridgnorth.

Conceived as a design and technology showcase for Aston Martin as it emerged from one of its many financial crises, the plan had been to build as many as 25 Bulldogs. But new boss Victor Gauntlett canned the expensive project and only one of the twin-turbo V8s was ever built. Aston had wanted its ultimate supercar – the 1979 equivalent of today’s Valkyrie – to grab the world record at the time for fastest production car.

With its low and wide stance and plenty of power – around 650bhp from a twin-turbo version of Aston’s 5.3-litre V8 – it had the credentials for high speed. Its 1970s wedge-shaped body – notable for its huge power-operated gullwing doors and bank of spotlights beneath a drop-down flap in the bonnet – was plastered all over the motoring magazines of the time while small (and large) boys went wild for it at the 1980 British Motor Show.

The Bulldog made national TV headlines too as this 1979 Thames TV report shows. The slacks-and-blazer motoring reporter – a prototype Alan Partridge if ever there was one – gets to interview Williams Towns about the car’s design, which is worth watching.

Williams Towns designed the Bulldog soon after completing the equally angular Aston Martin Lagonda, and with the two cars sharing similar flat surfaces and an absence of curves, the Bulldog was very much the big saloon’s sports car cousin, albeit with its V8 mounted amidships rather than up front. Like the Lagonda, the Bulldog’s dashboard was a very hi-tech affair for the time.

That will be just one of the many challenges awaiting CMC as it embarks on the restoration. The firm in Bridgnorth is used to challenges: among recent projects have been building former Jaguar design director Ian Callum’s bespoke Jaguar MkII, and the award-winning restoration of the one-off Pininfarina-bodied 1954 Jaguar XK120 in 2017.

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  • Bulldog

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