Factory Tour Series: Supersprint Exhausts, Mantova, Italy

Building exhausts since 1955 in the outskirts of the historic walled city of Mantova, Italy, Supersprint have one of the most interesting back stories in the business, which positively oozes Italian flair.

Nestled in the north Italian countryside, situated equidistantly between the fashion houses of Milan and historical Venice, the family-owned factory specializes in producing their own versions of handmade Italian goods. I had been thinking about using one of Supersprints exhausts on my Volkswagen Golf Rallye, so when the opportunity to visit their headquarters arose, of course, I had to go. For FTC disclosure, I was provided with a flight, accommodation in a centuries-old aristocratic house, and treated to wonderful pasta, but did not receive payment for this article.

Growing up in the car tuning world of the 1990s, I remember seeing Supersprint exhausts in adverts and on featured cars in magazines. The famous horse logo was also easily spotted underneath rear bumpers of the time. This has continued on non-stop to this day, especially in Germany where the companies retention of many of their original jigs (metal templates that act as maps for building the exhaust systems), has meant they can still offer original government-approved period correct systems for many Volkswagen and Audi cars.

The company is run by two brothers, who followed on from their factory. Both brothers are fascinating, and dare I say a perfect metaphor for Supersprints balance of aesthetics and performance. Federico, who embodies Italian charm and fashion sense, is the perfect company chairman and host. He knows the best coffee shops, never has a hair out of place, and I’m immediately impressed with his business knowledge and poise. His brother, Alessandro, conversely is absolutely an engineer. His eyes light up when showing me the MAHA 4×4 dyno room, and he gives off an air of confidence that he would know the minutia of practically every exhaust they’ve ever produced. Indeed, his desk is much like my own workspace; there are bicycle pedals and motorbike parts next to blueprints for unreleased car models. We spent time looking through hand-drawn sketches that had been sent back and forth to Germany using faxes in the 1990s, around the same time that the Golf Rallye was still new. This professionalism fused with the artistry of engineering, with all of the history mixed in, is what I think forms the very heart of the company.

While the historical side of Supersprint is what piqued my interest, the company are still continuously developing new products. My most recent hands-on experience with their products was on a high end 2017 Audi RS V10 Plus. A new Fiat 124 Spider (AKA new Miata…) was in from Germany to be fitted with a new system while I was visiting. This process starts with the in-house, and very fancy, dyno and continues on through sound tuning, testing, and production. Supersprint has long had a reputation for being able to produce fantastic exhausts even for niche or small run applications. While I was walking the production floor, my eyes were drawn to a batch of downpipes being produced – which turned out to be for the Peugeot factory Rallycross cars! The factory produces FIA approved components, and it’s not unheard of for enclosed trailers to pull up directly to the doors with special projects that have to remain out of public sight.

This ability to make custom solutions has led to direct relationships over the years with fabled names such as ABT, Oettinger, Hartge, and dozens of other tuning houses and manufacturers. Many of these tuners offered their own branded exhaust systems, which were made right here in the Supersprint factory. As I was given free rein of the premises, I walked through rows upon rows of jigs, finding everything from BMW E30 systems, to Audi S and RS models, Golf GTI mk7, to Fiat, to Ferrari, and then…

Hanging from a hook in the back of a prototype storage area, I found the Volkswagen Golf Rallye twin-exit-slant-angle-tipped back-box! The famous limited production Mk2 Golf had a special back-box, both for size and because of the Syncro all-wheel-drive rear axle. And while I want to increase the performance (and sound…) of my beloved project, I don’t want to sacrifice the aesthetics. Supersprint had not only designed and built the solution already, but they had the foresight to keep the prototype for future verification.

Each exhaust system is built in-house with hand-welded stainless steel as the basis. Manifold flanges, outlet tips, logo engraving; everything is made in the same factory. Even the resonators and mufflers are produced there, with a huge roller of steel wool being fed around the perforated tubing at the hands of a skilled Italian craftsman. 

Most of the employees live very locally, and employment time is measured in decades rather than months. Each system is welded on a jig, and then one small extra detail is added. Every craftsman has their own small numbered plates, which they hand weld onto every exhaust they are responsible for. While the company doesn’t view it as being anything other than business as usual, I was immediately enamored with this small touch. It’s not quite a hand-signed Italian exhaust, but it absolutely is the next best thing once you know what to look for.

The exhaust systems are then finished with a final hand polish, then shrink-wrapped and packaged in the same premises before being shipped around the world. 

From the beginning of the process, with measurements, testing, visual design flair and every other time-honed skill involved, through to the fabrication process, each Supersprint exhaust is brought to life in the same historical Lombardy region of Italy. The same region that the company was founded over 70 years ago. Knowing that a small part of this history will be underneath my car, I can’t help but raise an extra smile. Grazie Mille Supersprint.

For their full catalog of fitments offered by Supersprint you can visit https://www.Supersprint.com/ 

Supersprint exhausts are distributed in the USA by http://ECSTuning.com 

Written and photographed by Jamie Orr. You can follow his adventures on http://Instagram.com/xjamiexoe