Exhaust Talk 05 - Custom Build vs Direct Fit Performance Exhausts

Posted by Cobra Sport Admin

Back with more answers to your common exhaust related questions, in this episode we explore direct fit and custom built exhausts comparing the similarities, differences and reasons each may best suit your car project.



In this educational series we answers your questions on everything exhaust related from resonators, to sports catalysts, to what is a legal exhaust modification for your car.

Many elements of our exhaust systems are exactly the same whether purchasing directly from the website or visiting our HQ for a fully custom-built system.

304 Stainless Steel Pipework

304 stainless is utilised across our range of exhaust systems from Nissan GTR’s to Polo GTI’s. Perfect for its composition alongside its heat and corrosion resistance, 304 is used across a range of manufacturing industries, also providing the perfect acoustic chamber to deliver Cobra Sport’s signature sound.

TIG Welding

TIG welding is another superior factor of all Cobra Sport Exhausts. Our TIG specialists expertly craft each and every Cobra Sport Exhaust system by hand resulting in an unparalleled weld that will stand the test of time, other advantages to TIG welding are lightness and precision. Weight is always a contributing factor when considering aftermarket upgrades and the intricate detail that is highlighted on our exhaust systems often gets referred to as ‘weld porn’, this can partly be accredited to the oxidisation process that occurs through TIG welding leaving behind the beautiful, blue, purple, and gold colours that can be seen across all our exhaust systems.


Our silencers are always the same specification Cobra Sport signature soundtrack creators no matter if purchased as a custom-built system or directly from the website. That could be a simple resonator required to take the edge off a raspy tone or a huge backbox needed to really reign in the sound on your track spec V8, again these all utilise 304 grade stainless steel ensuring high quality throughout our product.

Mandrel Bending

Mandrel bending is another plus point to our work, a lot of custom exhaust shops won’t have the facilities to mandrel bend on site and may either buy in bends or use a hydraulic bender producing lower standards, this may include creases and pinch points within the pipework. This can lead to restrictions in the exhaust system that affect flow and performance. As the mandrel bender operates from the inside of the tubing it ensures all pipework is crease free, smooth, and perfect for optimising flow and performance.

Custom Building

A custom-built exhaust will be manufactured specifically for your vehicle and can be altered from the factory exhaust to suit your individual requirements, most customers will opt for something similar to our direct fit exhaust systems however others may require something a little more creative to showcase their passion for performance.

Examples of this can come in all shapes and sizes, race cars for example can arrive to us with a very specific set of requirements dependent on the race series and the regulations in place. Other examples may be customers building show cars and require an exhaust system that is going to help them stand out from the crowd, this can range from side-exit exhausts, hood dumps and snorkel exhausts amongst many other weird and wonderful set ups.

A popular request is dual exit and quad exit conversions, for vehicles traditionally supplied with a single exit tailpipe (usually left or right), tidying up the rear with symmetry is common practice for many enthusiasts, the main thing to consider is the rear bumper, does it allow for the exhaust set up you desire? If the bumper/diffuser isn’t sufficient to house the tailpipes you have your eye on then it may be worth searching the market for a suitable diffuser or bumper so that we can work the rear of the exhaust system and the tailpipes around it to suit your needs.

See below for a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of a custom-built exhaust system.

  • Designed specifically to your requirements.
  • One-off design unique to your vehicle.
  • Can produce a custom exhaust for any vehicle.
  • Design options are limitless.
  • Sound can be tailored to your specific requirements.

The only limitation to a custom-built exhaust system is the installation process, as this will be designed especially for your car and your needs the vehicle must be with us whilst we produce the exhaust, most custom systems can be designed, manufactured, and installed within the day however very specific systems may require a two-day trip to Cobra Sport HQ to complete.

Direct Fit

Direct fit exhaust systems are manufactured to bolt directly onto your vehicle, replacing your standard exhaust system. 9 times out of ten this will not require any modification to the system and after removing the standard system will fit directly onto the vehicle utilising the same routing and hangar placement as the standard exhaust, however, please note some exhaust systems do require the standard system to be cut so the Cobra Sport system can be installed.

The manufacturing process for a direct fit exhaust system follows several weeks of research & development with the vehicle. Several systems will be produced with varying levels of silencing, these will be tested and the most suitable selected for re-sale. The exhaust systems are then ‘jigged’ so that they can be precisely replicated through batch production.

Tailpipes are the most stylistic part of an exhaust being the only real visible element of the system for 95% of the time, our direct fit systems will have a limited selection of tailpipes that we deem most suitable for that particular application, however, if non-of these options are to your liking you may want to explore the custom route where your tailpipe selection is somewhat limitless.

See below for a summary of the benefits and drawbacks to a direct fit system:

  • Easy installation.
  • Minimal modification to standard exhaust system.
  • Designed specifically for your vehicle, fits like an O/E part.
  • Complete solution with all parts included, no need to buy components separately.
  • Developed for optimal sound and performance.
  • Limited availability for less popular models.
  • No option for individuality.