So what do you think of when you think of Aston Martin?
I’d wager that for many it’s an instant connection with James Bond and the timeless and beautiful silver DB5, which featured in 1964’s Goldfinger. It’s not a bad legacy to have, and one I’m sure that Aston Martin will never get tired of. Yet, there was another high-performance Aston Martin supercar that has been somewhat lost in the mists of time: the Bulldog.
It’s understandable if you can’t quite place the Bulldog as you cast your mind back over the years, as it never reached the point of mass production and remains a single model concept car. The Bulldog – or DP K901 – was intended to do what most concepts do; showcase the manufacturer’s ability to see into the future and create a tech-ridden machine capable of some pretty impressive numbers. Though back in 1980 when the car was launched, things were a little different and the project was eventually deemed to be too ahead of its time and thus too costly a project and the planned run of 15 to 25 vehicles never happened.
In 1984 Aston sold the Bulldog to a Middle East based collector for £130,000. It was then moved on to the USA. The Bulldog then appeared in the Far East where it appears to have languished somewhat forgotten in storage, until being offered for sale back in the UK.
At the time, the futuristic gullwing-doored Bulldog concept was the fastest car on the road, capable of a claimed top speed of 237mph, although it never quite reached those speeds officially, having been verified at 192mph at the Warwickshire based HORIBA MIRA test track in 1979. 40 years on and it’s still a fine achievement for any self-respecting sports car.
The 4.7-metre long and almost 2-metre wide Bulldog utilises a tubular steel chassis with aluminium panels keeping the weight down, and has a height of around 1-metre. The streamlined supercar features a very unusual set back central headlight display system, which is only revealed once a metal bonnet panel is lowered. Inside, the left-hand-drive vehicle even features LEDs and touch sensors (this was 1980 remember).
All that power came from a not especially unusual Aston 5.3-litre V8 engine, but the key here was the addition of Garrett turbochargers, which enabled the Bulldog to be capable of producing anything from 600-700bhp as well as 500lb ft torque. Although not exactly pretty, the DeLorean-esque stealth fighter lines and angled shape assisted the Bulldog’s stability at high speeds with the car also managing a drag coefficient of 0.34.
The good news is that the original William Towns styled Aston Martin Bulldog is currently undergoing a full sympathetic restoration. This new restoration is a labour of love for Restoration Project Manager Richard Gauntlett, whose father Victor became chairman of Aston Martin in 1981 and made the difficult decision to shelve the Bulldog project due to the company’s financial issues at the time. The full restoration, which will include restoring it back to its original colours of light grey and silver (the exterior paintwork had become green at some point over the past 40 years) with a very 1980s dark brown walnut and leather interior, will take around a year. Richard, who was obsessed with the car as a little boy, managed to track the car down to somewhere in the Far East before commencing on the daunting task of a restoration (the car hasn’t even been seen running for over 30 years).
This will certainly be one to watch; unlike other classic or vintage restorations that have top speeds and acceleration figures fixed in stone and relative to the time of their creation, the Aston Martin Bulldog remains a car ahead of its time and it will be great to see it on the track again.
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