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 similar
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 retro look.
I think the rear bumpers came from a Morris Minor and the
light fittings came from Woollies who specialise in retro parts
for older cars.
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
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 often became 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...