Adrian's Pilgrim Bulldog Kit Car - Additional information on the build
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My mystery leather front seats?
I wanted some classic looking seats but the Bulldog had an
unusually narrow gap between the tunnel and the body tub. Many
builders used aftermarket Recaro race seats which were expensive
and to my eyes looked completely wrong as the whole Bulldog theme
is 1950s retro. Armed with a tape measure I searched hundreds of
cars in all the breakers yards round me and I finally found these
seats in an err... Skoda Estelle. They were loosely attached with self
tapping screws so they must have been taken from another car and
fitted to the Skoda. I think I paid £15 each. Once cleaned up they
looked perfect in my Bulldog. Many other Bulldog builders asked me
which car my seats came from and I could not help them. My guess
is they were originally fitted to a quality foreign sports car as
headrests were not common in small UK cars. Or they could have
started life in a special edition sports salon e.g, Escort Mexico or
I put a great deal of thought into the final finishing touches. I had
tried some fake, spoked wheel trims which looked awful. So I
cleaned up the standard wheels and searched out some
undamaged chrome wheel nut covers from a Morris Minor. Once
the wheels were painted cream they helped achieve the 1950s
I think the rear bumpers came from a Morris Minor and the light
fittings came from Woollies who specialise in retro parts for
The trim on my floor boards are the side trims off my original
I never found a front bumper that I liked the look of so I did not fit one.
These fog and spot lamps came off an old Ford Anglia in a scrap
yard. They were clearly 1950s with a little chrome peak above the
glass, they looked perfect to me.
I took a "Morris" motif from a Morris Minor and I cut it down to fit on
the front of the Bulldog. I also took a Morris Minor bonnet handle and
fitted it to the bonnet.
I was really tempted to fit "Riley" badges but I thought that would
have been one step too far.
The finished look of my Pilgrim Bulldog Kit Car was very important
to me. I chose the Marina based Bulldog kit partly because I
thought the design of the body really evoked the look and feel of a
1950s sports convertible and that was the effect I was trying to
achieve. Other builders fitted wide alloy wheels, low profile tyres,
square fog lamps, racing seats, full width front bumpers etc. The
great thing about building and owning a kit car is you can park 10
cars together and every one of them looks different. There is no
right or wrong it really depends on the look the builder wants to
achieve. In photo on right the furthest car is a Mark II Bulldog which
used Ford components.
My Best modification was?
I felt the Bulldog was under geared because the finished kit was so
light and engine had 7cwt less to propel. After much research I
discovered that the rear axle on the Marina was shared with the
Triumph Toledo. I sourced a differential from an 1850 Toledo
Automatic which raised the gearing by around 20% (The auto had a
unique differential). This made the Bulldog much better to drive. In
the early days, before the Internet, there was an ex-policemen who
produced a Bulldog newsletter. I remember reading some good
articles and writing a few of my own
Most difficult part of the build was?
I took the engine out of the donor before I attempted to remove the
huge nut holding on the crankshaft pulley. Big mistake!
Any problems with the finished car?
Marina's are fitted with a gearbox from a Triumph Herald 1200. The
gearbox was weak and the synchromesh had it's limits. I learned to
drive in a Herald so I can double de-clutch (Sometimes called a
racing change where changing down briefly you put the car in
neutral, de-clutch, rev the engine, re clutch and select the lower
gear) . When I really thrashed the Bulldog it would often get stuck in
3rd gear, which is embarrassing when you've just overtaken another
car. I would have to stay in 3rd revving hard. To make my next gear
change I had to slow down to a crawl or even stop before the gear
lever could be moved.
Earlier I mentioned the overheating problem, I think this was caused
by the front bulkhead being vertical with no attempt to assist air flow
out of the engine bay.
Looking back would I have done anything differently?
If I had my time again I would have had the chassis galvanised
because it started to rust after a couple of years.
I would also have reseached to see if I could fit a better, lighter twin
cam engine with a decent 5 speed gearbox. I'm thinking Toyota
Celica, Fiat Supermirafiori...