The restoration of one of the rarest Aston Martin cars in the world – the Aston Martin Bulldog – has reached a key milestone.
The engine for the 1970s supercar is now in the final stages of completion, with the Bulldog on track to be unveiled in September.
The 18-month restoration by Classic Motor Cars in Bridgnorth in Shropshire will ultimately see the car being driven to its intended top speed of 200mph – a feat it never achieved back in the day.
Nigel Woodward, Managing Director at CMC said: “Bulldog’s cylinder block is now repaired and machined to tolerance putting right the damage found when the engine was stripped.
“In addition, more robust main bearing caps have been manufactured and these are then further braced by a reinforcing ‘girdle’ machined from billet aluminium. The new steel crankshaft should thus be well located in the crankcase.”
“Further work has been carried out to the cylinder heads, extending the valve guides to help transfer some of the heat from the valves that the turbocharged motor will produce.”
He added: “All this power will be soaked up and transferred by a specially developed twin plate clutch, replacing the original single plate type which by all accounts was rather marginal.
“At the moment we are on track to unveil the car in September and at that stage will announce where our initial test runs will take place.”
The restoration of the Bulldog is being followed by thousands of people worldwide on social media, in motoring magazines and newspapers.
One of the rarest cars ever produced by Aston Martin, it was styled by William Towns in the 1970s but never went into production.
The avant-garde wedge-shaped Bulldog was designed in the late seventies to show off the capabilities of Aston Martin’s then new engineering facility in Newport Pagnell.
The vehicle produced was a one-off concept car as Aston Martin attempted to prove it was not only a small company of renowned motoring artisans but that its engineering prowess was also world class.
The aim was to produce the fastest production car in the world and have a limited production run.
Aston Martin hoped that the car would be capable of reaching a top speed of more than 200mph.
When fully restored the seventies supercar is to be driven to its intended top speed.
After the launch of the car, and its abortive run to reach 200mph to claim the production car speed record, it disappeared into obscurity.
The Bulldog was officially launched on March 27 1980 at the Bell Hotel at Aston Clinton.
Richard Gauntlett, son of the late Victor Gauntlett (former CEO and chairman of Aston Martin) is project managing the restoration.
He said: “The Bulldog became something of a mythical beast, lots of people knew about it and wondered where it was after it was sold by Aston Martin to an owner in the Middle East. It then disappeared from general view.
“There were sightings all over the world, In the late 1980s it was spotted in a lock up in Arizona, it was back in the Middle East in the 1990s but it was RM Sotheby’s who tracked it down in Asia.”
He added: “With top restoration company, CMC being chosen to carry out the 18 months-plus restoration and get the car ready for i ts 200mph run, the Bulldog was coming home. The car had come full circle not only geographically but in terms of its history.
“While the physical restoration has been going on at CMC, a huge amount of work continues to be done forensically piecing together the full history of where the car has been.”
RM Sotheby’s car specialist Alexander Weaver said: “Our team of car specialists is always on the hunt for unique, elusive or obscure cars on behalf of our clients and the Aston Martin Bulldog fit that bill perfectly.
“We found this one-of-a-kind concept within an exceptional collection where it had quietly resided for decades. As one would expect we were keen to facilitate its sale knowing the interest in it would be strong.”
He added: “After extensive discussions and negotiations, the owner agreed to part with the long hidden Bulldog and we were able to facilitate a sale to our client and friend Phillip Sarofim, through our private sales division.
“We are certainly excited to see the car undergo the restoration to its former glory and I’m personally eager to see the Bulldog crack 200mph, as it was intended and came so close.
CMC has been at the forefront of classic car restoration for the last 25 years starting with Jaguar and then moving on to other marques, including Aston Martin.
CMC is carrying out a nut and bolt restoration of the Bulldog, after which the owner plans to run the car at over 200mph and then take it on a world tour.
Restoring the Bulldog to its original specification will involve about 3,500 hours of work over an 18-month period.
About the Bulldog
Although the Bulldog was built in the UK, it is left-hand-drive.
The Bulldog featured five centre-mounted, hidden headlamps, as well as gull-wing doors.
It was powered by a 5.3-litre V8 with twin turbochargers that produced 600bhp.
Inside, the interior was upholstered in leather and used LED buttons like the Lagonda.
Aston Martin planned to build 15-25 Bulldogs but testing and development were curtailed with the car tantalisingly close to its intended top speed, having achieved 192mph miles per hour in testing at the MIRA test track in Nuneaton.
When Victor Gauntlett became chairman of Aston Martin in 1981 he decided the project would be too costly and the Bulldog was shelved.
In 1984 Aston Martin sold the only Bulldog to a Middle Eastern collector for £130,000.
The Bulldog was later sold to an American collector and spent some time in the United States.
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