Two Royal Naval apprentices unveiled the fully restored 1980s Aston Martin Bulldog supercar today.
It is now being prepared for its first test runs at a Royal Naval air station, which will ultimately see the supercar being driven to its intended top speed of 200 miles an hour – a feat it has never achieved before.
It follows an 18-month nut and bolt restoration at Classic Motor Cars.
Technicians spent more than 6,000 hours working on the car, which caught the headlines of the world’s media in 1980, and then disappeared.
Aston Martin planned that it would become the fastest production car ever, running at 200mph.
But it fell short at just 191mph and due to financial constraints, the project was axed.
“It became something of a mythical beast,” said project leader Richard Gauntlett, whose father Victor Gauntlett was managing director at Aston Martin when Bulldog was axed in the 1980s.
“It disappeared from view when it was purchased from Aston Martin by a Middle Eastern buyer.
"Over the years Bulldog was ‘sighted’ in various locations around the world before turning up in the United States where it was bought by Phillip Sarofim, who has flown to the UK for the unveiling of the car.”
Today, air engineering apprentices, Lewis Delaney, 27, from Llanddulas, Wales and Andrew Earl, 23, from Kings Lynn, who both work at the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton, unveiled the car.
It came after the world-famous Corps of Drums from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Portsmouth (The Royal Band), carried out a “Mess Beatings” to announce its presence.
The apprentices were accompanied by Warrant Officer Baz Firth who said: “It was an easy choice to select these two AETs to help unveil the Bulldog as it was an excellent opportunity to recognise and reward their good efforts and for them to see the engineering involved in such a special restoration.”
David Barzilay, who looks after PR and marketing for CMC, said: “It seemed fitting to involve the Royal Navy.
"CMC is an employee-owned trust which over the years has run an apprentice programme, as have the Royal Navy.
"Our engagement with the Senior Service will see apprentices from Yeovilton, where testing of the car takes place being involved.
"CMC apprentices will be involved when Bulldog visits a Royal Naval warship.
“It will mean that old technology will meet the Royal Navy’s latest technology. Two UK icons coming together in a unique picture shoot to be announced shortly.”
Nigel Woodward, who has masterminded the restoration of the famous car, said a team of 11 people worked on the project.
He said: "When we received the car, it didn’t look too bad. But closer inspection revealed that there was a great deal to do. It was decided to carry out a full nut and bolt restoration.
“The car had received damage by being lifted at some point, by a forklift truck. It had not been run for years, and it immediately became apparent that many parts would have to be rebuilt if it were to run at 200mph.
“We have tried to be as faithful as possible to the original design and concept by not only returning the car to its paint and trim scheme, but also engineering the car in such a way that major mechanical components are now located as the designers originally intended.
"This, and future proofing the car so that it remains drivable now for ever, has been achieved by incorporating state of the art engine management systems and modern components such as liquid cooled turbochargers which will ensure that Bulldog is preserved for future generations.
“We were fortunate in having a great team and being able to work with two of the original engineers Keith Martin and David Morgan, as well Lizzie Carris the wife of the designer of the car, William Towns.
"This gave us a huge head start on the project and their help was invaluable to the completion of the car.”
Mr Sarofim, the owner of the car, said: “Richard and the team at CMC have done a great job. The car looks truly amazing.
"Now we must work on the tests which will be carried out by Aston Martin racing driver Darren Turner to make sure that it reaches the 200mph. I have every confidence we will achieve it.
“I am proud to be the custodian of Bulldog which is a true British icon and delighted that young people are involved and will be inspired by this project both from a Royal Navy and CMC perspective.”