Aston Martin Bulldog ends 45-year wait to smash the 200mph barrier | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine
Wednesday 4th October

Aston Martin Bulldog ends 45-year wait to smash the 200mph barrier

Fabled Aston prototype nails the super speed it set out to achieve all the way back in 1979

Published: 07 Jun 2023

More than 45 years after it was first conceived - as a 237mph car, no less - the Aston Martin Bulldog has finally broken the 200mph barrier at a former NATO airbase in Campbeltown, Scotland. At last!

The 1977 one-off prototype was famed for almost being the fastest production car of its time, though it never achieved more than 191mph back in the day and didn't actually make production.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Originally a run of 15-20 examples was planned, but it all got a bit too pricey and the prototype was eventually sold to a Saudi Prince for £130,000. The engine blew up on its first drive. Ouch.

But like a Saturday morning Parkrunner, the Bulldog has finally smashed its personal best. Driven by works driver Darren Turner - who's no stranger to these kinds of speeds as a three-time class winner at Le Mans - the attempt was made possible after an 18-month project to restore the 70s trailblazer.

More than 7,000 hours of restoration work and hundreds more of testing were needed to bring the Bulldog back to its best.

“Bulldog's 200mph goal has been over 40 years in the making, being part of that legacy is a fantastic feeling," said Turner, whose last attempt to hit the magic double-ton in the Bulldog in 2021 fell short at 176mph.

Advertisement - Page continues below

“The Bulldog has now fulfilled Aston Martin's promise and everyone who has worked on the car - from those who first designed and built it, to Classic Motor Cars who undertook the restoration under the management of Richard Gauntlett, can feel very proud.”

Apparently "conditions were perfect" and the Bulldog hit 200mph "easily" this time round. Wonder what did the trick this time?

Tim Griffin, MD of Classic Motor Cars, said: “Thanks to the CMC team's hard work the Aston Martin Bulldog has done it! The people of Campbeltown were very welcoming and encouraging to us, and we're glad to give them the opportunity to see the car and meet Darren.”

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

Phillip Sarofim, the car's current owner, added: “Today is about making dreams come true, the dreams of the original designers and engineers who created Bulldog. Those automotive pioneers were breaking barriers, not just speed barriers but frontiers of design, innovation and engineering.”

And project leader Richard Gauntlett (who happens to be the son of the former owner of Aston itself, Victor Gauntlett) said: “It is a truly incredible moment to witness the close of a 45-year chapter in the history of the incredible Aston Martin Bulldog. The team who built it and the team who re-built it are deservedly celebrating their momentous achievements and it is heartwarming to see all their hard work rewarded.”

Images: Amy Shore

More from Top Gear

See more on Aston Martin

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5