Car Choices

Since moving into our house, I had been doing lots of research into the kit car market, both from magazines and on the Internet. I also watched the "A Car is Born" series by Mark Evans where he built a Cobra replica with a 5.7 litre Chevrolet V8 for around £14,000 and, despite knowing very little about cars and mechanics at the time, it didn't look as though it would be too difficult a job for me to undertake.

By April 2000, we had a good idea where we were financially and I could afford to take my ideas one step further. I went to the "National Sports Car Show" at the NEC with Neil, my younger brother, and we saw a lot of nice cars, but little in the way of kits.

When researching the various kit cars available, I found that there are an amazing number of different options available, varying from back to basics sports cars to classic replicas to off-roaders to tourers to modern GT cars to 'normal' cars. The number of engine choices almost seem to match the number of cars available.

To help shortlist potential cars I could build, I set myself a budget of £7,000 to complete the project and get the car on the road. I also set myself several pre-requisites, the car had to:

  • look different from the majority of cars on the road
  • have an open top, with an optional roof for the English weather
  • have good performance and handling
  • be reliable

From the above criteria and the research I had done, I shortlisted the following cars:

  • Pilgrim Sumo
  • Sylva Mojo
  • Robin Hood 2B
  • Tiger Super Cat

On the May 2000 bank holiday weekend, Neil and I went to the Stoneleigh kit car show armed with the above shortlist of potential kit cars.

Pilgrim Sumo

I think that Cobras are stunning looking cars, but after looking at the car, I found a few potential problems. To build the car within my budget, I would have to leave the car in a gel coat colour, fit the Sierras 4 cylinder engine and forego any chrome or leather trim which are many of the things that make a Cobra special, none of which would do the car any justice. The 4 cylinder engine wouldn't sound right and also wouldn't give a 1 ton car much in the way of performance. The other major problem is that they are quite a wide car and I was concerned that it wouldn't fit in my single garage with enough space around it for me to build it.

Sylva Mojo

This is a mid engined 'Seven' style roadster. The pictures in magazines made it look quite attractive, but in the flesh, the front didn't look too bad, but the rear looked very high and dumpy in order to accomodate the engine.

Robin Hood 2B

This car is definately at the budget end of the 'Seven' style market and seeing it from afar across the hall immediately helped me decide that I didn't want one. It looked positively huge when compared to other 'Seven' style cars and seemed to weigh almost as much as the Sierra donor car. Also, the front sliding pillar suspension arrangement definately looked a bit suspect.

Tiger Super Cat

Again at the budget end of the 'Seven' market, this looked infinitely better than the Robin Hood. It also seemed to meet all my criteria with good reviews and performance. It was visually well proportioned and the Super Cat rear bodywork which was 4" wider than the standard bodywork allowed the fitment of 15" wheels which also looked good. Another plus was that Sue, wife of the owner, was willing to spend time talking to a pair of lads in their early twenties and was genuinely enthusiastic about their product.

The weekend after Stoneleigh, Tiger were holding an open day at their headquarters near Peterborough. I went down with Neil and somebody took me out in their Tiger. My mind was made up, I had to have a Tiger Cat, though I still had to save up to buy the kit and didn't know when I would finally be able to afford one.

Engine Choice

With a car chosen, the task of deciding upon an engine was to be made. The normal engine installed in a Tiger Cat is the Ford Pinto from the Sierra. The main problem I could see with this was that I had no knowledge of how engines work and wouldn't feel confident stripping down and rebuilding my own engine and hence would require to purchase a reconditioned engine.

I calculated that a reconditioned Pinto with a cylinder head modified for unleaded fuel, carbs and a performance camshaft kit would cost around £1,600.

I then started looking at the 2.0 Zetec as found in the Mondeo. With a performance carburettor kit replacing the standard injection setup, this would cost around £1,900.

This would give more power than the Pinto engine and would also be more reliable due to the engine being under less stress than a modified Pinto engine for, what I believed to be, only a small difference in price.

I spoke to Tiger about my choice and it turned out that nobody had actually completed a Tiger Cat with a Zetec, though there was somebody else with one in the process of being built. Tiger did have experience of the Zetec in both the Super Six and R6, so there would be help available should I need it.

It's ordered!

I finally placed the order for my Tiger on Monday 7th August 2000 and got Jo to post it for me. I had decided to fit a 2.0 Zetec, though would buy this later on during the build.

On 9th August, I got a call from Sue at Tiger asking if I wanted the senders for the optional gauges and asking if I wanted the Zetec option pack which would be another £200. I also added the shortened prop shaft to my order. I was also given a choice of collection dates, either 23rd September or 11th November. Due to it being both Jo's Mums and my Mums birthday on 23rd September, I chose 11th November.

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