The History of Pilgrim

Pilgrim have been building cars since the 1960’s, and became an incorporated company under the joint ownership of Den Tanner and Bill Harling in 1985. The company was purchased by Tony Holmes in 2002, and then reclaimed by Den in 2009. In 2014 Den sold Pilgrim to Trade Direct Sussex, owned by Paul Bennett and Adrian Hewetson. The company was renamed, Pilgrim Motorsports.
The years of manufacture are shown from the time each model was produced in final Prototype, but it is helpful to remember that a small number of cars fall outside of the production dates shown because they are pre-prototype releases, trials or realised ideas. The numbers of each model produced are best estimates, not exact figures. Even with these exceptions, all Pilgrim’s models have passed the necessary tests of their day, and are fully road legal, low volume production motor vehicles.

Current Models

Pilgrim 356 Speedster 1986 –
The Iconic 356 began its life as a production vehicle as early as 1986. The SWB & California versions are built using a shortened chassis from a VW Beetle, complete with all suspension and running gear. The LWB chassis does not require shortening. All the standard Beetle engines fit, and rumour has it that the flat 4 & 6 cylinder engines from Subaru and Porsche will also go in there. The National Kit Car show in 2016 saw the re-launch of the model, an example built by Dave Tassell from Car SOS, and an all new and easy to follow construction manual is now available. The LWB and California versions are currently on the back burner, with no immediate plans to bring in to production.

Pilgrim Sumo 1985 –
The Sumo is Pilgrim’s most successful model, designs began in 1980, during which a small number were produced, with full production commencing in 1985. Over 12,000 have been built and put on the road. The Sumo is still in production and is the undisputed flagship of the Pilgrim range. It is a replica of the AC Cobra; The Sumo was originally built using a Ford Cortina donor car. It had a ladder frame chassis with a GRP inner tub and outer body shell. The introductory price in 1985 for a basic kit was initially £2000. As the car developed a steel frame chassis and V6 engines followed, and later still a Jaguar chassis was added, and V8 engines could be fitted. The chassis’ of the later specimens were stiffened with floor plates and received box-shaped transverse beams from sheet metal, the manufacturer called this semi-monocoque. The sumo currently uses parts from Ford Sierra’s or Mk3 Ford Granada’s.

The Factory

We fabricate chassis, suspension components and manifolds and many other parts in our metal shop.

We produce our body shells in our fibreglass and laminating workshop from our own moulds.

At its height Pilgrim was producing ten kits a week as well as building turnkey cars at the factory. It is believed that Pilgrim has produced in excess of 15,000 kits as cars and kits since its inception in that small garage.

Along the way Pilgrim has also built other cars/kits which have included The Bulldog, Family Tourer, Haldane, Jeepster, Hawthorn, Minotaur, Martini and of course the ever famous Sumo Mk1 Mk2 & the current Mk3. Pilgrims production numbers must surely exceed the combined output of all its competitors put together.
Just to give those customers who have not visited us an idea of the scale of the business.
The factory is 16,500 sq ft + a car sales area of 14,000 sq ft.
The factory consists of:
1) The factory workshop where we produce right or left hand drive cars to order. These cars are factory built ready to drive away.
2) The metal fabrication and welding shop. Where our chassis are manufactured by highly skilled craftsman .
3) The fibreglass and laminating shop, here our expert staff produce the Cobra bodies and associated parts.
4) The 2,000 sqft store room where all your parts are housed!
5) The 500 sqft packing room where your parts are packed.
6) The car sales area under renovation 14,000 sqft

So you can see that the car is manufactured entirely in house. However we do send the chassis away for galvanising.

Previous Models

The Pilgrim 3000, formerly the Haldane HD300 started product in Glasgow Scotland in 1988. It was added to the Pilgrim portfolio in 1994. The car is built from a mixture of Ford Cortina and Ford Sierra. More recently the mechanical rights of production have been sold on, although it is understood that the entire project has been shelved. Pilgrim retain the moulds for the GRP Bodywork. Approximately 150 cars have been produced. There are no imediate plans to relaunch this model.

The Pilgrim MX2 was a reproduction of the Lancia Stratos HF. It utilised the engine from a Ford Escort, which was mounted in the middle of the car. The concept never took off, and the project was scrapped.

The Z3 was simply as body kit that was designed to fit the Body of a Mazda MX5. It was a joint project between Pilgrim and Hawk Cars, and was well ahead of its time. The BMW Z3 was still in production, and BMW took exception to this project, warning of legal action if the project was ever brought in to production. The project was immediately shut down and no cars were ever produced. The Moulds have since been sold.
(If you have a photograph, we would be thrilled to hear from you.) The Pilgrim Martini was a failed attempt to reproduce the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Saloon. It is believed that only 5 ½ cars were ever made, two in the factory, and 3 ½ kits sold. The Martini was built in 1992 using a Ford Capri to which a few GRP panels were attached.
The RV Eagle spent a short time under Pilgrim management between 1998 – 2004 before being sold. The eagle has been in production for 34 years under different management groups.

The Minotaur was built under licence between 2003 – 2009. The most exotic project so far, originally designed by John Forakis. Only 8 cars were produced. The shape of this kit car is based on super sports cars such as the Ferrari Enzo Ferrari or McLaren P1. A demonstrator was put on the road, but has since been sold. The cost of building this car was very high, and demand was, therefore, limited. The project has since been abandoned.

Address & Contact

Units 12-14
Mackley Industrial Estate,
Small Dole, Henfield
Nr Brighton, West Sussex,
Great Britain


Phone +44 (0)1273 493860

Map & Location