The Enduring 44-Year-Old Aston Martin Bulldog – A Classic Icon that Continues to Captivate and Impress
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Aston Martin Bulldog. Right, cars don’t fly (yet), but it sure looks like this wedge-shaped classic would. Did I say classic? Well, it might still look futuristic today, but the Bulldog is actually a whopping 44 years old as of 2023. And it’s still a sight to behold.
The Bulldog has gotten a lot of coverage on these pages since plans for its restoration have been announced in 2020. The rebuilt one-off resurfaced in 2021 and wowed crowds at car shows the world over. It also attempted to hit 200 mph (322 kph), a benchmark it’s been aiming for since day one. It didn’t get there, but it looked spectacular running at high speed.
While it’s not the kind of vehicle you’d expect to see at the track, the Bulldog met a few twists and turns at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
And on top of being fast and surprisingly nimble, the British concept car put on a show by popping and spitting flames while “running” up Goodwood hill. And needless to say, it didn’t look out of place among the modern supercars that were also showcased there.
What makes the Bulldog special and still fresh in 2023? Well, it’s one of the many wedge-shaped vehicles that were designed in the 1970s but it boasts quite a few unique features.
From the center-mounted and hidden headlamps and the unusually long gullwing doors to the twin-turbo V8 engine, it was so futuristic back in the day that it can still keep up with modern designs.
While Aston Martin had been building V8 engines since 1969, no forced induction had been used until the Bulldog arrived in 1979. The unusual setup, which included a pair of Garrett turbines, enabled the 5.3-liter V8 to crank out 700 horsepower on the test bed and 600 horses and 500 pound-feet (678 Nm) when fitted in the car.
These numbers prompted Aston Martin to claim that the car was capable of hitting more than 237 mph (381 kph), which had been a world record at the time. However, the Brits failed to surpass the magical 200-mph benchmark, reaching “only” 191 mph (307 kph) during a test run in late 1979.
That number would have broken the existing speed record by more than 10 mph at the time, but Aston Martin never went for an official run. It wouldn’t have mattered either, because the Bulldog never made it into production.
But just for reference, the first production car to surpass 190 mph (306 kph), the Porsche 959, did not arrive until seven years later, in 1986.
Speaking of a production run, Aston Martin was initially planning to build 15 to 25 Bulldogs. However, the arrival of Victor Gauntlett at the helm of the company in 1981 led to the cancellation of the project due to high costs.
The sole Bulldog was eventually sold to a collector for £130,000 in 1984 (that’s almost £390,000/$483,000 in 2023).
The one-off was subsequently modified and repainted and then kept in storage for years in the Far East. Recovered in 2020, it was restored in 2021 by Classic Motor Cars Ltd. A top-speed attempt ran later that year saw the Bulldog hit 162 mph (261 kph).
But that’s enough history for today, hit the play button below to watch the wedge-shaped wonder run up Goodwood hill. Also, make sure you catch the headlamp wink at the 2:52-minute mark.