Rebuilding The Bulldog: The One-Off 1980s Aston Martin Supercar Concept Is Back
Photography by Nick Dalton
This is the reborn Aston Martin Bulldog, a one-of-one prototype supercar with two massive gullwing doors, two turbos, eight cylinders, 600 horsepower, 500lb-ft of torque, a bank of hideaway headlights, and a herd’s worth of leather guts. First revealed to the world in 1979, this elongated wedge of British engineering nearly became the first 200mph-capable road car when it clocked 192mph during its initial testing in Nuneaton, on the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) test track.
Back then, the Bulldog was on track to becoming the highest watermark in the performance production car world, but when Victor Gauntlett took hold of the company reins in 1981 as chairman, the financial situation he faced was such that this fantastic halo project had to be terminated in favor of more pragmatic pursuits. That decision left the world with just a single example of the Bulldog, which was sold off and all but forgotten, save for some infrequent appearances in public over the last few decades. Which is a shame, considering the William Towns design is one of the more striking shapes from an era that had no dearth of them.
Collector and longtime friend of Petrolicious Phillip Sarofim recently acquired the sole Bulldog with plans to rectify this situation. He commissioned a ground-up restoration from Classic Motor Cars, with the project being overseen by none other than Victor Gauntlett’s son, Richard. Next up: breaking the 200-mph barrier. The plan is to head to a Royal Navy airbase to stretch this puppy’s legs and do what it set out to over 40 years ago. The driver tasked with this mission is longtime Aston Martin works driver—and three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner—Darren Turner.
Whether this certifiably bizarre automobile suits your taste or otherwise, the fact that such an esoteric piece of history is being not only shined up for display, but accurately restored in pursuit of its own 41-year-old top-speed record, is something worth celebrating. This pooch is far from being all bite.