Marlin Sports Cars was a specialist British manufacturer, that design, build and sell sports cars that stand apart from the mainstream. Marlin produce the Marlin Sportster and Marlin Cabrio. Both are aimed at those with more traditional tastes, with their unique mix of classic roadster styling and sophisticated BMW performance. These cars take the exhilarating nimbleness of the Caterhams and Westfields and fuse with the roomier, touring car appeal of classics like Morgan.

Marlin is now closed and looking for a new owner. (2023)

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Marlin Sports Cars Ltd
Holmfield House
Nr Crediton
EX17 3QA

Marlin Sports Cars is a British sports car manufacturer of Unique British Sports Cars and Self build Kits. The first kits were sold in 1979. Today, Marlin produce two makes of cars The Marlin Sportster which is aimed at those with more traditional tastes, with its unique mix of classic roadster styling and sophisticated BMW performance. It takes the exhilarating nimbleness of the Caterhams and Westfields and fuses it with the roomier, touring car appeal of classics like Morgan. The Marlin 5EXi is a modern, lightweight, mid-engined sports car powered by a choice of various VW models, Honda or Rover. With its spaceframe chassis, up to 450+bhp, and independent wishbone suspension, the Marlin 5EXi is the modern, more practical alternative to the Westfield and Caterham Seven.

Avatar Sports Cars is a track and race division of Marlin Sports Cars, Avatar is born from over 35 years of experience in sports car development and manufacture. Its sister company Marlin is synonymous with innovative design and purist driving thrills. Based in Crediton, Devon, the company has designed, built and introduced six Marlin models with 2017 marking the introduction of the first Avatar production model. With an established manufacturing and sales base and successful model range, the stage was set for Marlin to respond to a new demand for an exciting, affordable sportscar that would take the clubman sportscar concept to the next level


For over 30 years, the name of Marlin has been synonymous with innovative design and affordable home-built sports cars. Originally conceived by ex Rolls Royce engineer, Paul Moorhouse, the Marlin Roadster first entered production in the late Seventies and immediately caused a sensation with its robust construction and excellent driving dynamics.

Typical of his forward thinking approach was the development of a roll-over bar built into the windscreen frame – a feature which placed the little Marlin a number of years ahead of Audi, who then claimed the idea as its own with the Audi Cabriolet. Towards the end of the eighties, those who had bought Roadsters now had growing children who also wanted to come along for the ride. The pretty Berlinetta was Moorhouse’s response, a thoughtfully designed 2+2 with the option of a hard-top for year-round motoring comfort.

Pushing the boundaries With the nineties came new possibilities when it came to engine and suspension components. As one might expect, Marlin was one of the first to embrace the new technology, and the Sierra-based Cabrio was the result. With lines inspired by Vanden Plas and featuring a unique combination of stress-free aluminium panels clothing a chassis of advanced semi-monocoque construction, the Cabrio was an instant success.

In many aspects, the Cabrio was probably far more advanced than it needed to be at the time of its introduction. But, as later events were to prove, these hidden strengths were crucial to Marlin’s next phase of growth. Having achieved so much, Moorhouse moved onto new challenges (amongst other things, designing a series of small submarines!) and today’s pairing of Terry and Mark Matthews took up the Marlin reigns.

A new focus With a change of ownership came new ambition. Where previously the cars had only been available in component form, a thorough programme of development would see Marlin launch its first turnkey model – The Hunter. Owing much to the groundbreaking Cabrio, the new model entered a marketplace previously dominated by Panther and Morgan. Marlin effectively re-wrote the rules of the English sports car world. Never before had such a combination of handling, ride comfort and sheer practicality been seen on a car of this type. The goal set by the Marlin factory was to create something which had the looks and style of the pre-war era, but with none of the drawbacks – the Hunter delivered on all counts.

Young at heart If the new model satisfied the turnkey market, the Cabrio was still doing it for those who wanted to have a more hands-on approach to creating their own special car. But there also appeared to be room for something new. Marlin noticed that a demand existed from people who wanted a vehicle in the Lotus 7 mould, but with a more room inside, good weather equipment, doors and boot space. In 1997 the Sportster was launched – a car with all the Marlin styling cues, but with a far more overtly sporting ethos. Answering the call for a Lotus Seven style car without the compromises, the Sportster ticked all the boxes, while building on the Lotus’s reputation for superlative handling and extraordinary performance. The Sportster had it all.

In 1998, and to celebrate twenty years of the Marlin name, the factory embarked on its most audacious project yet, the Makaira. A benchmark car for Marlin, embodying everything the company had learnt in developing the turnkey Hunter, in order to produce a highly exclusive, all aluminium bodied traditional roadster. With a price tag of over £40,000, this beautiful car will always remain a rare sight on our roads, but it took Marlin into yet more unchartered waters and continued the company’s heritage of pushing the boundaries… Something the company would once again remind us of when it relaunched the Sportster in 2002 with a brand new suspension and engine package. Taking a leap of faith that other manufacturers seem unable to grasp, the company ditched the ailing Ford components in favour of parts sourced from BMW’s acclaimed 3-series. It was a stroke of genius. With the upmarket, yet extremely affordable new donor came the promise of ever more exciting engine options (over 320bhp with the M3 Evo unit) allied to more refined and capable suspension and braking components. What’s more, the new BMW package allowed the builder to assemble a Sportster using just one donor, thus making the build both easier and more affordable.

A bright future The original launch of the Sportster also saw Marlin coming into more regular contact with a younger, more driving focused customer. And as a natural consequence, the company looked to meeting this fresh demand with yet another new model. In 2003, to celebrate Marlin’s silver jubilee, the 5EXi was launched. Ushering in a brave new world for the company, the 5EXi offered utterly contemporary styling, while the move to a mid-engined layout was also completely fresh.

But while the styling and design of this car are brand new, the 5EXi maintains many of the traditions of Marlin engineering. Not only does this car utilise another previously unheard of donor car (in the form of the Rover 200 series), but it again uses an unusually large number of components from the one source. Most recently, the addition of full height doors and the option of using Volkswagen 20 Valve Turbo & Honda’s extraordinary Type R VTEC engine have once again kept Marlin in the headlines. The 5EXi and Sportster embody everything that has always made Marlin one of the leading lights in the UK’s specialist car scene. They are wonderfully engineered, hugely innovative and always exciting.

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