Home » The Doomed 1980 Aston Martin Bulldog Supercar Just Pulled Off A 200-MPH Shot At Redemption

The Doomed 1980 Aston Martin Bulldog Supercar Just Pulled Off A 200-MPH Shot At Redemption

Aston Martin Bulldog Topshot
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The face of Aston Martin seems to be changing. From a foray into F1 to the Valkyrie mid-engined supercar, the gin-and-tweed brand has come over all carbon fiber. For people who aren’t familiar with a more obscure facet of Aston Martin history, this rush into mid-engined supercars seems like a frantic attempt to align the brand with titans like Ferrari. However, Aston Martin almost beat Ferrari to the punch with a promised 200 mph road car in 1980, but shaky ground forced the firm to abandon the project. This is the tale of the Aston Martin Bulldog and its recent 200 mph shot at redemption.

Aston Martin Bulldog 1

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In the late 1970s, Aston Martin was enjoying a bit of a rebirth. After having gone bust in 1974, the reborn brand was in the midst of a renaissance when then-chairman Alan Curtis wanted to show the world that Britain could compete on the supercar stage. The plan? To build the fastest, most-advanced road car the world had ever seen. Sporting a drag coefficient of 0.34 and brutal punch, project DP K.901 would be like nothing the world had seen. AR Online reports that after a change of project management from Mike Loasby to Keith Martin and a change in project name from DP K.901 to K9, Aston Martin shocked the world with a supercar called Bulldog.

The Aston Martin Bulldog was styled by William Towns. He’s the same man who styled the bold Lagonda sedan, a wedge-shaped slice of ‘70s excess known for its futuristic and unreliable digital dashboard. Unsurprisingly, the mid-engined Bulldog took everything about the Lagonda and cranked the knobs off. With gullwing doors, turbofan wheels, and no fewer than five hidden headlamps, the Bulldog was shaped for ‘80s financial excess. It fits right in with the Cizeta-Moroder V16T and Gumpert Apollo at the table of vulgar displays of capital, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aston Martin Bulldog 4

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Of course, a supercar needs to pair show with go, so slung just ahead of the rear wheels sat a  600-horsepower twin-turbocharged 5.3-liter V8 that Aston Martin claimed could propel the Bulldog to a top speed of 237 mph. However, actual testing revealed a top speed of 191 mph. Still quick enough to potentially be the fastest production car in the world at the time, but certainly short of the 237 mph claim. However, just as everything seemed set, Aston pulled the plug.

See, financial stability has never been a hallmark of independent sports car marques. Porsche’s longevity is owed partly to its function as an engineering company. Ferrari has leaned on Fiat in varying capacity since 1969. Virtually everyone else? They’ve been passed between owners, gone bust, or seen similarly shaky situations. Around the turn of the 1980s, Aston Martin was in deep trouble. The Times reported that Aston Martin laid off 20 percent of its 450-strong workforce in 1980, and owners Alan Curtis and Peter Sprague passed off ownership of the marque to petroleum magnate Victor Gauntlett in 1981. One of the first orders of business? Canceling the Bulldog project.

Aston Martin Bulldog 3

In 1984, the only Aston Martin Bulldog ever made was sold to a private collector, and that was more or less where the story stopped for nearly four decades. However, things picked up in 2020. BBC News reports that the Bulldog was found in a storage unit around the start of the pandemic, purchased by Richard Gauntlett, son of Victor Gauntlett, and turned over to the team of specialists at Classic Motor Cars to return the Bulldog to its former glory in hopes of breaking the two-ton barrier.

Aston Martin Bulldog Speed

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This week, everything came together. At a former NATO base in Scotland, Aston Martin works driver Darren Turner dropped the hammer and called upon everything the Aston Martin Bulldog had to give. The result? A blistering 205.4 mph. I repeat, 205.4 mph from ‘70s machinery. That’s faster than a Countach, faster than a Porsche 959, faster than a Ferrari F40, all in something initially bolted together by midlanders.

Aston Martin Bulldog 2

If Aston Martin had the resources to produce the Bulldog, there’s a chance we’d all remember a wedge-shaped Aston Martin rather than a fat-fendered curiosity called the Porsche 959. It may have been the first 200 mph production car, a title that would’ve been impossible to revoke. Still, a 205.4 mph run in 2023 isn’t something to sneeze at. Every dog has its day, right?

(Photo credits: Classic Motor Cars)

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J Ludwik
J Ludwik
11 months ago

cool article 🙂

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
1 year ago

You know, Hyundai’s supposedly doing a production version of their retro concept car, it’s not too late to pick up where the 1970s Aston Martin engineers left off and build a production Bulldog. It’s still fast enough to be respectable today after all, and they might even be able to have a triangle car in production before the Cybertruck arrives…

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 year ago

Congrats even 40+ years later. The only thing missing is James Bond and the hot babe of the day.

Jakob Johansen
Jakob Johansen
1 year ago

five hidden headlamps“, say no more.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

I always wondered why this thing was called the Bulldog. It’s sort of a HALO-Warthog/Puma situation.

A Mini Cooper looks like a bulldog, with its upright stance and brachycephalic face. Most CUVs look like bulldogs. The 2019ish Silverado looks like a bulldog, albeit a mutant CGI version like the dogs from the 2003 Hulk movie.

This car is more like a saluki on a luge board. (or my cat, 0.02 seconds before she pounces into a bad decision.)

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian
1 year ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

It was named after the Scottish Aviation Bulldog, a little plane that Aston’s then Chairman, Alan Curtis, loved. They just made an Instagram post about it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CtGVzKuos7w/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

That is excellent, thank you!

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

If Aston Martin had the resources to produce the Bulldog, there’s a chance we’d all remember a wedge-shaped Aston Martin rather than a fat-fendered curiosity called the Porsche 959.

Pardon me, the term you’re looking for is “thicccccc.” I love thicccccccc 959s.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Stef there’s a 959 for sale in the UAE classifieds (which is, relatively speaking, about next door to me).

It’s priced at “Inquire.” :/

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

buy it

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago

Now this is a story! This is awesome…1 out of 1 made. I like the “Every dog has it’s day” Reminds me of the Red Dog beer

Bobfish
Bobfish
1 year ago

The answer is none. None more wedge.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago

I like the shot of the readouts: speed, oxygen sensor, rpm—and the tps at 99.7%. Hammer down on that puppy!

Slower Louder
Slower Louder
1 year ago

Scary. Looks like it wants to be airborne.

Brent Ozar
Brent Ozar
1 year ago

Fast enough to outrun the depreciation.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
1 year ago

I wonder what they did to it just to get it ready for a high speed run. I now tires are a super important part of those kinds of speeds. A 40 year newer tire might have made the difference.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago

Ehh, I don’t think tires make a big difference in top speed. Rolling resistance is pretty negligible at 200mph, and I doubt that the 70s tires had a whole lot less drag than new ones.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

How many 1980 era tires could do 200 mph without exploding?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

But it is so damn ugly. It is a Lagonda on a diet. Id say a butterface but still so friggin ugly.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I respectfully disagree (but I love the lagonda too). 70s Wedge Car is Best Car.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gilbert Wham
Parsko
Parsko
1 year ago

That last pic of the profile at speed is just perfect. It’s just so visually satisfying. It’s symmetric, but not. The driver right in the middle is just chefkiss. Wish his visor was down.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
1 year ago
Reply to  Parsko

I agree, from that angle it’s amazing.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago
Reply to  Parsko

The slab sides and straight door lines are all wrong – but delightfully so. When I was young we knew someone with a body shapes like this, and her nickname was Fridge (I know, I would never say it about someone nowadays).

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

Looks like a funhouse mirror view of a Lotus Esprit.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

The back end especially. And how long are those doors!?!?

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
1 year ago

“Wahoo, Woof! Woof!
Hey bulldog! Hey Bulldog!”

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
1 year ago

I remember reading about the Bulldog in that BBC article, I’m glad to see it break 200!

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

The first car mag I ever bought was a Road & Track with the Bulldog on the cover.

Too bad 2023 Aston isn’t in much better financial shape. Would be awesome if they would build a wedge-shaped, gull-winged homage to the Bulldog.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
1 year ago

All they really need to do is register it as a replica build, and they could sell these in the US, just like Morgan is going to do with their cars.

The Bulldog is just so 70’s-showcar perfect that they’d sell every one they could build to rich Gen-x’ers, who were smitten by it as kids like you and I were.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Sexton
World24
World24
1 year ago

That’s awesome as hell! I’m glad they managed to do it!

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