Coachlines - June 2023

28.06.23 Liveryman David Barzilay

205.4mph – mission accomplished

D-day, 6th June 2023 dawned bright on the Mull of Kintyre with just a light mist rolling in from the sea over the former Royal Naval Air Station at Machrihanish.

The scene was set to prove that 40 years on, the famous Aston Martin Bulldog could top 200mph which, it never did in 1979 when Aston Martin wanted it to be the world’s fastest production car.

After the car was found and purchased by owner Philip Sarofim, 6,000 hours went into its restoration by Classic Motor Cars (CMC) of Bridgnorth, Shropshire which won the coveted RAC restoration of the year.

Hours went into testing and fine tuning the engine to surpass the 191 miles an hour that Aston Martin achieved, before the project was scrapped as too costly.

Driver Darren Turner (Photo: Amy Shore)

More time was spent in planning the ultimate run and its location. The former Royal Naval Air Station at Machrihanish near Campbeltown was chosen because of its links to the Royal Navy, which had unveiled the restored car at the Hampton Court Concours, hosted high speed testing runs at its at Yeovilton in Somerset, and showcased the car on both HMS Queen Elizabeth, and HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carriers.

It had been a busy few days. A six-man film crew had flown in from Hollywood several days before the event to film at CMC and follow the car to Campbeltown while shooting the journey on the long and winding road to the Mull of Kintyre.

There was huge interest from global media and while many press did attend, including the BBC’s Lorna Gordon, which resulted in a package on the BBC six o’clock nationwide news, hundreds of others were looking for interviews, quotes and footage and my mobile rang incessantly.

The run was scheduled for 11am, in time to catch the lunchtime news feeds and allow journalists who did attend to get back to their offices in Glasgow and to also ensure we didn’t interfere with regular aircraft movements on the main runway at Campbeltown airport, just a few yards from the massive taxi way we were using.

By 10.30am it was all coming together, the owner had arrived along with Richard Gauntlett, who had overseen the restoration. Richard is the son of former Chairman of Aston Martin, Victor Gauntlett who had originally scrapped the project.

The press was in place, the police had arrived with their radar guns to complement our figures, and Le Mans class winner Darren Turner was behind the wheel. It only remained for me to check that the taxi way was clear with the safety car, and I gave the green light.

Darren powered down the concrete, which by this time was shimmering in the heat haze and disappeared from view. He came back and did it again and asked, “what speed did I do?” I checked and the technicians confirmed 205.4mph.

It was a great achievement for all concerned after years of hard work. A local piper played ‘Mull of Kintyre’, the residents of Campbeltown came to visit the car and everyone went home very happy.