Adrian's Pilgrim Bulldog Kit Car - Rolling Chassis
First I stripped down the engine, had it rebored, fitted high compression pistons and a Stage II reprofiled Camshaft from Kent Cams. I gas flowed the head and exhaust manifold myself. I used David Vizard's wonderful book on "Tuning the A Series Mini Engine" as my guide to tuning. My Morris 1800 engine was know as the B Series but in most respects it was simply a scaled up A series Mini engine with a 5 bearing crankshaft. I replaced the crankshaft bearings and the big ends, I then fitted a new clutch, reassembled everything and painted the engine and gearbox. It only took a couple of weeks to paint the chassis and fit the running gear although I had to find a better fuel tank. The exhaust was a straight through MGB design from Bainbridge which really helped the performance. I was on a tight budget and I had to retain the single carburetor to keep insurance costs down. The original inlet manifold was part of the exhaust manifold as a one piece casting. This setup was a poor design so I found a much better inlet manifold from another BL car (Princess 1.8 from memory) which cave me a setup just like a big, oversized, single carb Mini Cooper as per David Vizard's book. I put the Bulldog on a rolling road and it gave 85 bhp at the rear wheels. I was told that a typical MGB GT only produced 55 bhp at the rear wheels and a standard 1.8 Marina could be as low as 45 BHP. My Bulldog was quick on the road, it only weighed 13 cwt so I had a better performance than the Golf, Escort and Peugeot 1.6 GTi's which were around to play with. The aerodynamics were not so good and once 85 was reached it was a struggle to get to 100 mph, and very unpleasant when I got there with the canopy trying to rip the screen off it's mountings.
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On one of my many visits to the 5 big scrap yards in Peterborough I found a Marina GT with an aftermarket Girling shock absorber conversion. They let me take the parts for £5. The front suspension on the standard Marina is from a Morris Minor with lever arm shock absorbers that are woefully inefficient. This modification allows conventional shocks to be added to supplement the leaver arms. The effect transforms the suspension and steering. Note the torsion bar front suspension which made the Marine such a popular kit car donor because there are no big springs or struts to compromise the design
Would you believe that in the Morris Marina the engine sits in front of the steering rack which passes over the gearbox which results in a terrible nose heavy design. Not helped by the sheer weight of a cast iron block and cylinderhead Pilgrim cleverly mounted the engine behind the steering rack which placed the weight between the axles and endowed the car with a wonderful balance and poise. On a good day I would drift the car round corners on the throttle making the Bulldog such fun to drive.