Much of the Aston Martin back catalogue is firmly etched into automotive folklore. Vanquish, Vantage, Lagonda and DB all roll off the tongue with easy familiarity; Bulldog, however, is a more esoteric marque that only its devoted fanbase would associate with the Bond carmaker. This is in part due to only one ever being made.
The solitary supercar is now set to emerge from the long shadows of its illustrious stablemates and attract a whole new generation of apostles, thanks to a painstaking restoration.
The ambitious project is being undertaken by Classic Motor Cars, in Bridgnorth, UK at the behest of an American buyer, whose express wish was to see the car returned to its former glory.
The anonymous buyer has also requested it be re-engineered to surpass the 200mph mark. When the car was originally manufactured and tested in the UK, between 1979 to 1981, it touched a top speed of 192mph so the refurbished iteration is to give the Bulldog even greater bite.
Classic Motor Cars managing director Nigel Woodward said: “The car is dramatically designed in every way and has inspired the restoration team like no other car we have worked on previously.”
The process has been one of ongoing discovery with the Bulldog’s history gradually unpeeled as it was dismantled. Mr Woodward compared it to working on an “archaeological dig”.
The original supercar’s passage to oblivion - and resurrection
The excitement engendered by the restoration is unsurprising. The Bulldog was pioneering in every way when first fashioned by William Towns - the British designer behind the Lagonda.
The similarities are plain to see in the marque’s wedge-shaped styling. The influence of the Bulldog can also be clearly seen on the DeLorean - and given that British engineer Mike Loasby was involved in the fabrication of both, it is unlikely to be a coincidence.
Whereas the DeLorean went on to find fame in the sci-fi movie franchise Back to the Future, the Bulldog went out with less of a bark and more of a whimper, victim of Aston Martin's turbulent financial history.
When the carmaker was taken over by Victor Gauntlett in 1981, to raise funds the Bulldog was sold to an unknown middle-eastern buyer Subsequently it journeyed around the world, before making its way back to Britain for Aston’s centenary celebrations at St James’s Palace in 2013. However, whilst the bulldog’s spirit endured, it was no longer in working order.
This changed six months ago, thanks to the American buyer, and the resurrection is now well under way.
Despite being one of a kind, and having racked up many miles on the clock, the Bulldog retains almost all of its original parts, bodywork and trim. “Only the fuel injection had been removed and the carburettors replaced,” said Mr Woodward.
Fittingly the project leader is one Richard Gauntlett, son of the late former owner Victor.
”The first six months of this heroic project have been truly fascinating,” he said.
“This car illustrates that British ingenuity in the face of financial adversity can be so deeply impressive which seems so relevant at this time. The future’s bright, the future’s Bulldog!”
If talk of the Bulldog's restoration has whet your appetite for supercars, here are 10 of the best in 2020 to date.