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By Ben Selby
In the late seventies, Aston Martin were not what one would call “financially stable.” The decade which gave us space hoppers, bell-bottom pants, T Rex and massive sideburns, saw the fortunes of Aston, take a slight nosedive. However, while better times lay ahead, this didn’t stop them from sticking two Churchillian fingers up at the competition.
The AM V8 coupe was still trickling out of the factory, and the mad Lagonda saloon, many of which ended up taking residence in the middle east, was equal in design to any wedge supercar spawned from Modena. However, the Lagonda was a dress rehearsal compared to what Aston Martin released to the public in 1979. Called the Bulldog, it was Aston’s attempt to produce a car which would make the Ferrari Boxer and Lamborghini Countach resemble family run-arounds.
The Bulldog, or DP K9 as the concept was called, was styled by William Towns, the same bloke who penned the lines of the Lagonda. The wedge body was 186 inches long and sat 43 inches high. A cluster of five square headlights sat behind a retractable panel at the front, and mechanically operated giant gull-wing doors would double the cars height when fully open. Inside was a plethora of LED lights and touch buttons which first appeared in the Lagonda Series 2.
Behind the driver sat a 5.3L V8 with the addition of twin turbochargers to produce a claimed power figure of 700hp, remember this is 1979! Through a five-speed manual box sending power to the rear wheels, Aston claimed a zero to 100km/h sprint of 5.1 seconds.
As for top speed, Aston claimed the Bulldog would see the far side of 200mph, which if proved accurate, would make the Bulldog the fastest production car in the world of the time. However, when test drivers took the Bulldog for high speed testing at the MIRA bowl test track, the best they could manage was 191mph.
The plan was for Aston Martin to make 25 examples of the Bulldog for their most exclusive clientele; however, the project was scrapped after Victor Gauntlett became chairman of Aston Martin in 1981, citing the Bulldog was just too expensive to keep alive. Gauntlett gave Aston Martin a new lease of life but the Bulldog Concept Car was sold onto a Middle Eastern collector in 1982.
Today, the Bulldog is to be reborn, thanks to work of Classic Motor Cars in Bridgnorth, UK. The Middle Eastern collector painted the Bulldog green and fitted wing mirrors along with a tan interior. The team from CMC plans to fully restore the Bulldog to its original concept state, meaning the original grey and white colour scheme and lose the mirrors.
CMC also plan to give the Bulldog enough oomph to realise its original goal of cracking 200mph. Once achieving this, the Bulldog will head out on a World Tour showcasing the achievement, and one of the most radical British designed cars ever built.
Its about time the Bulldog got its time to shine. We shall therefore wait and see if the wedge warrior does Aston Martin, and motoring anglophiles proud.