We paid a visit to the Winterbourne Abbas workshop, near Dorchester, run by owner Gary Osborne and experienced fabricator Jarek Szlek.
Joining a larger service-centre garage across the courtyard is a devoted bay for custom-build exhausts.
Gary explains: “A four-post ramp is essential to build and fit a bespoke exhaust system – the car needs to be at its natural ride height, resting on the wheels, to allow for suspension movement.”
Clockwise from top: new pipe is cut; diameter and swage are carefully checked against old pipework; old exhaust pieces are often used to guide correct shapes
Over the years, Longlife has built exhausts to customer specifications for all types of performance and luxury cars, but Gary loves to work on classics.
At the time of our visit, he’s just back from The Classic at Silverstone, supporting a team that enjoys a 15-year relationship with the firm. Now, it’s increasingly part of the day-to-day.
Old exhausts are carefully measured, although systems can also be built from scratch – an appealing option for cars without off-the-shelf availability.
Tungsten Inert Gas welding – here, fixing the fold flange – produces a neater finish than MIG (left); new brackets are made
Jarek, an exhaust fabricator at the firm for 12 years, considers the latest car on the ramp: “This old system is totally wrong for the car, but that’s not uncommon.
“With only one back-box silencer fitted and a number of welded repairs over the years, the mild steel has rusted through.