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Aston Martin Bulldog shatters 200mph barrier

Matthew Macconnell reports on the day’s events.

44 years after its first attempt, the restored one-off Aston Martin Bulldog smashed the 200mph barrier with triple Le Mans winner Darren Turner at the wheel.

The conditions were perfect and the horizon clear at the RAF Machrihanish’s long runway in Argyll – the Aston Martin Bulldog, which took 18 months to restore, was ready to crush its previous 1979 191mph MIRA record. Final preparations were made and Le Mans winner Darren Turner climbed into the Bulldog and fired up its twin-turbocharged, 600bhp 5.3-litre powerplant. Nearby, owner Phillip Sarofim, the restoration team and project leader and son of former Aston Martin owner, Richard Gauntlett, eagerly awaited.

The Bulldog catapulted down the runway, returning with a recorded top speed of 205.4mph. This resulted in a large celebration and the team called the original Bulldog project leader, Keith Martin, to share the result.

Unable to tell how fast the car was going during the drive with the speedometer limited to only 154mph, Darren rejoiced after the achievement and described being part of the legacy as a “fantastic feeling”. Local traffic police were positioned further down the runway to capture the car’s speed using radar guns while the Bulldog’s onboard tech allowed for further analysis after the run.

Aston Martin intended to build 15-20 Bulldogs but unfortunately due to the oil crisis and other important financial factors, the project was canned after finishing only one car. The Bulldog was sold to its first keeper, a Saudi prince, for £130,000 who blew the engine up after driving it for the first time. It was then sold to American businessman Phillip Sarofim in 2020 who approached the Classic Motor Cars in Shropshire to have it restored and the Gauntlett family to manage the project. The restoration took 7,000 hours over 18 months. In 2021, Darren attempted a top-speed run in the Bulldog at the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton and reached 176mph.

Owner, Phillip Sarofim, who has had the Bulldog for four years, told Matthew Macconnell: “I feel a tremendous amount of joy and excitement. I think it’s incredible to see this chapter closed after 44 years. This is something that the car was destined to do and I am happy that this is such a sense of pride for so many people; it’s a sense of national pride and a sense of pride for people who built the vehicle originally. This is truly amazing and inspiring – history has been made.”

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