Aston Martin will soon launch its first mid-engined production vehicle. Dubbed the 'Valkyrie', Aston's extreme hyper car should challenge all that we know about luxury performance. Yet, the marque boasts of further plans – paralleled by a failed project from three decades ago.
A separate contemporary project, christened ‘Son of Valkyrie’, will see the British brand introduce a second mid-engined model. However, this modern-day pairing isn’t the first time Aston Martin has toyed with mounting and engine centrally. That honour goes the the criminally-overlooked Aston Martin Bulldog.
This wonderfully ‘prim and proper’ 1979 walk around of the Bulldog is a flashback to a period where car shows remained a strictly formal affair. Thames TV has released this clip of Tony Bastable presenting the show ‘Wheels’, which focused on the Aston Martin Bulldog for this instalment. Also making a guest appearance is the car’s designer, William Towns.
The Bulldog was designed to promote what Aston’s new engineering facility in Newport Pagnell was capable of. Built with the aim of becoming the world’s fastest road car, the vehicle was powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.3-liter V8 producing 600 hp and 500lb ft of torque. It is said that the engine was actually capable of 700 hp, but was detuned for added reliability.
The extreme wedge shape of the Aston Martin Bulldog reduced drag, as did its innovative hidden headlamps that were revealed by a retractable panel. The alien shape was a means to propel the car to a targeted 237mph top speed. The Bulldog only ever managed 192mph – still hugely impressive, yet some 45 mph short.
Aston Martin’s original plan was to build 15- 25 Bulldog vehicles, but the project was deemed too costly for continued development. The only functioning car created was then sold in 1983 for £130,000. That, it seemed, was the end of Aston Martin’s foray into the world of mid-engined cars. It would take a further 40 years before development continued.
The snippet of TV footage was recorded shortly after Aston Martin revealed the Bulldog for the first time. It’s a fascinating watch as it details the interior and those ever-cool gullwing doors that the car possessed.
Well-dressed designer William Towns is clearly rather proud of his creation and begins to talk about the development process with Tony. Towns remarks: ‘I’m not interested in a styling adventure that’s going to be wholly impractical and impossible to get into.’
One of the most interesting parts of the video comes when it is speculated that William might be responsible for designing a new MG sports car in the future. Presented with a blank sheet of paper and a pen, he’s then asked to sketch what he might expect the car to look like. While not designed by Towns, the 1985 MG EX-E concept car does share a resemblance to the rough drawing.
Today the only existing Aston Martin Bulldog has changed hands several times, and has since been modified from its original specification.
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