The specialist: Milltek Sport

| 24 Jul 2023
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

Founded in ’83, Milltek Sport has become one of Britain’s biggest names in exhausts, albeit one normally associated with tuning relatively modern rather than historic cars.

Now, though, as the cars Milltek started out on become bona fide classics, the firm is relaunching many of its early products.

The company is staffed by enthusiasts, so this move has been inspired by internal passions as much as requests from customers.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

Tricky shapes are scanned prior to laser cutting

“The quattro is our founder and owner’s car, and has been a development vehicle for one of our modern-classic systems,” says Steve Pound, managing director of Milltek, pointing at the red Audi above our heads on a ramp.

Employees’ own cars have formed much of the development fleet for Milltek’s new classic range, which now includes the Golf Mk1 and Mk2, Peugeot 205 GTI, E30 BMW M3 and more.

“Every car goes through a journey,” continues Steve.

“Initially owners want something warranty-friendly, then people look to push the limit of modification more when a car gets less valuable.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

Automated lasers have taken over from old-school saws at Milltek Sport

“Then, in another 10 years or so, it will come back around and people want them to be more original again,” he explains.

Milltek has done exactly that with the quattro. The exhaust never went off sale, but has been redesigned for the preferences of modern-day owners.

The tailpipes, for example, have gone back to their stock size, 76mm, from the old design’s 90mm.

“We’re not looking to make what a performance exhaust was when the car first came out,” says Steve.

“Now we want something that is close to the original.”  He calls it “OE-plus”.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

A five-axis machine produces complex exhaust sections

The firm has recently reintroduced a redesigned system for the Mk1 Audi TT V6, and was working on both the DC5 Honda Integra and the E36 BMW M3 at the time of our visit: “We still make some of the products we were building 40 years ago, such as Triumph Stag and MGB exhausts, for other suppliers.

“We’ll increasingly look to bring those back into the Milltek classic range.”

Whether for an employee car, one of its own development fleet or a customer car, Milltek’s exhausts are all tested with precise measuring equipment on repeatable test routes – and with old-fashioned expertise.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

Milltek says that its classic car systems are “OE-plus”

“When we pick up a resonance we don’t want, we’ll increase or decrease the size of parts, or add pieces such as reflecting plates that bounce the sound waves off each other,” says Steve.

“We have computer simulations for that, but our team members also have a sense of what they need to do.”

It’s not just older designs that have been modernised, but production methods, too, with automated laser-cutting having been introduced at the company during the recent pandemic.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

The Volkswagen Golf Mk2 (left) and Audi quattro development cars belong to Milltek Sport staff

“For nearly 37 years, we were processing tube on saws, so you’d end up with burrs and oil on the cut, which meant there were still lots of manual processes,” explains Steve.

Computers that are able to instantly calculate how best to cut each batch of components from given lengths of tube without wastage have reduced the firm’s off-cuts by 30% and energy consumption by 25% almost overnight.

“The operators who were doing the manual processes have been transferred to better-quality jobs, and our workforce has still grown,” Steve adds.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Milltek Sport

Milltek’s warehousing is growing as exhausts continue to get bigger

The firm has opened offices in Germany – a decision hastened by Brexit – and most recently in the USA, as it looks to expand its operations.

With a primarily electric future on the horizon, Milltek’s strategy is to capture the enthusiast market wherever it can reach it, both geographically and by type of vehicle, whether it’s classics or the limited number of new cars being run on synthetic fuels.

“We’re not panicking,” says Steve. “We’ve got other exciting projects, too, but I can’t talk about them yet!”

Images: Max Edleston

The knowledge

  • Name Milltek Sport
  • Address Unit 3 Victoria Way, Derby DE24 8AN
  • Specialism Performance exhausts
  • Staff 71 (62 in UK)
  • Prices £730 for a Mk1 VW Golf GTI exhaust system
  • Tel 01332 227280
  • Web

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