This page is just an overview of my first build, a Pilgrim Sumo. It is not a detailed build diary, just some of my experiences. Hope you enjoy it!


I started my Sumo in January 2003, well that was when I collected the donor vehicle, my chassis didn’t arrive till February. I put out some feelers to some friends that I was looking for a ford Granada mk3 and it wasn’t long before a mate told me of one going locally. I went to see it and found out it was a non runner on a G plate so asked how much the owner wanted and was told to just take it as he wanted it off his drive. I towed it back to my mate Sarge’s house where he was letting me use one half of his double garage for the build. It didn’t take long to strip off the wheels and suspension parts that I needed and a quick call to one of the car collection firms in the local paper and the bodyshell was gone. In hindsight I should have stripped other things off the car like lights, interior trim parts etc and sold them on eBay. I stripped, wire brushed, cleaned and painted with hammerite the suspension parts and ordered new brake discs, front and rear, and exchange callipers all round. That was the suspension overhaul done!

I received the phone call saying that my chassis was ready and went down to pilgrim with a hired Mercedes van to collect the bits. I fetched the chassis and enough bits to get me up to a rolling chassis.  As I stated earlier this isn’t going to be a page detailing how to build a Sumo but an article giving a rough chronological order to how I did things and about my experiences, there are some good Sumo building sites on the web as well as Chedz’s very good Wiki site which is well worth looking through. I fitted the suspension parts, the fuel lines and fuel tank then went looking for an engine and gearbox. I scoured the local papers, trade magazines and the internet looking for a cheap Rover V8 engine to put in the chassis. I wanted a RV8 because I knew that particular engine well (I had rebuilt quite a few from my SD1 owning days) and I believed that it would be powerful enough, initially, for my lightweight kit car. I planned that once the car had been on the road a while I could save up for a larger capacity RV8 to fit in its place still utilising the gearbox and exhaust etc. I soon came across a complete SD1 nearby and went and looked at it, I was told it only needed a battery and it would start and run but as it wasn’t MOT’d or insured I decided to tow the car back to my house. It didn’t take long to realise that the engine was knackered with a valve broken and wedged in the piston, of course by this time I had already removed the engine and gearbox from the car. Once again, in hindsight I should have checked the engine before I bought it, but you live and learn! I did sell off parts of the SD1 though and recouped my costs for the vehicle. I was on the lookout again for an engine but was going to use the auto box that came with the SD1, after much searching I was told about a bloke near Manchester who may be able to help. I got in contact and he only had one engine available but he wanted to sell it with the attached manual gearbox, I’d been looking for a while with no success so agreed to buy the engine and box off him with the understanding that if either the engine or ‘box were no good he would not only reimburse me but also come and take the engine/box back out of the car. The engine was soon fitted along with the radiator and cooling system and I couldn’t resist starting the engine after doing some rudimentary wiring. The engine started relatively quickly but the noise with no exhausts at all was pretty loud! While I went hunting for an exhaust system I got on with fitting the Pilgrim wiring loom. The electrics were pretty straightforward apart from a few errors where some wires in the relays were backwards but I soon had it fitted. After having the car on the road for a while I quickly realised that the position of the fuses and relays isn’t ideal and although they are easy to get to in the bare chassis stage once the body is on they’re a pain. I soon had an exhaust system from a supplier who I won’t name on here, suffice to say I had major problems with it and it is all detailed on the Cobra forum if anyone cares to do a search under my user name tonym and exhaust. I fitted the exhaust manifolds and started the engine again; although it was quieter it was still very loud. I couldn’t resist though, so sitting on a toolbox I took the chassis for a quick drive along the “private” road outside Sarge’s house.