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Aston Martin Bulldog breaks 200mph after 44-year wait


As with many a challenge tackled with meticulous planning, there wasn’t much drama when Bulldog finally broke through the 200mph barrier on Tuesday June 6, 2023 – 44 years after Aston Martin set out to make the world’s fastest road car.

In fact, the only physical evidence that the twin-turbo, V8-powered wedge had been anywhere at all was a patch of paint missing from its rear bumper: a mischievous tongue of over-run flame had scorched it off.

It was a quiet reminder that – while Bulldog had ripped along the 1.9-mile runway at Scotland’s Machrihanish airfield with a muted waffle rather than a bestial roar – there was an iron fist inside the velvet glove of its still futuristic-looking William Towns bodywork.

And when driver Darren Turner raised a gullwing door and stepped out in immaculate white overalls seconds after piloting Bulldog to 205.4 mph, he seemed no less relaxed than when he had settled in behind the wheel 15 minutes earlier.

But with more 20 years as an endurance racer and three class wins at Le Mans under his belt, you’d expect Turner to be as cool as a cucumber.

Perhaps a more realistic reflection of Bulldog’s bite could be read from BBC reporter Lorna Gordon’s reaction after later being treated to a gentle, 180mph run in the passenger seat: she emerged trembling uncontrollably.

Finally cracking the 200mph goal made for an emotional moment for everyone there, not least Bulldog’s American owner Phillip Sarofim, the team from Shropshire-based CMC – which spent 7000 hours restoring the car – and Richard Gauntlett, the son of the late Aston Martin chairman Victor who has overseen the project since Sarofim acquired the car four years ago.

“A lot of people talk about their childhood posters – well, Bulldog is my childhood poster made real, and getting the car to reach the 200mph it was always intended to do represents a huge part of my family’s history,” said Gauntlett afterwards.

“It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work involving both everyone at CMC and the original Bulldog design team, who can now justifiably say ‘I told you so’…” he added.

Towards the end of its original development in 1981, the car achieved a 191mph pass at MIRA that was verified by Guinness World Records – but it was then sold to help Aston Martin to raise much-needed funds.

Even at 205mph, however, Bulldog has probably not demonstrated its full potential. According to CMC’s Brett Eggar, who has been leading the rebuild, the V8 has the potential to produce considerably more power.

“Everything we have done to the car has been based on ensuring its strength and reliability, and making sure it would achieve a trouble-free 200mph,” he told Magneto.

“We ran it on Gulf 102 race fuel and set the turbos with a target boost of 17lb, which was actually 15.2 on the day. That gave us around 700bhp. But, in theory, that could quite happily be upped to around 1000bhp…”

So watch this space…

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