Shop Talk and More

Mandrel Bending Solutions – Gregory Jones Interview

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As part of a new series we’re going to start interviewing various shop owners and workers to get their insight into working on your cars, why they do what they do, and how they managed to get into a job that they love.

Our first interviewee is Gregory Jones, a Fabricator and Performance Exhaust Specialist at Mandrel Bending Solutions in Pasadena, MD.  Gregory has done some fantastic work on my own car, and it was amazing to watch him do his magic.

How long have you been working at MBS?
5 years

What do you like best about your job?
Custom exhaust is like creating art.  I like challenges to create proper exhaust solutions for performance oriented cars.

Worst?
It varies…different things bug me at different times, haha.

Besides my car, or yours, what’s your favorite car you’ve had the pleasure to work on?
Its hard to say, I like just about everything, especially cars built right.  Those who know me know I really hate “supercars/high-end cars”.  I’m a more make a slow/cheap car fast kind of guy.  My favorite high end car jobs was a Maserati MC Stradale & a newer GTR, I also liked working on (and getting to drive) the Fisker Karma.  I’m a sucker for G-bodes (I’ve owned 5).  I have worked on hundreds & hundreds of custom builds it’s hard to pick one.  From turbo builds, engine swaps & street rods I have done them all.

What do you drive?
Currently ’82 Malibu (cruiser), ’97 Tercel Turbo (road racer), & a ’10 Yaris (gas sipper).

Any mods?
I just recently made my own custom headers for the Malibu, it’s got a few suspension bits so far.  The Tercel…I built the turbo kit, full suspension upgrades, coilovers, big brakes, etc etc.  The Yaris has a full suspension upgrades along with minor engine mods, better speakers, yadda yadda.

How did you get into exhaust work?

I’ve always been fascinated with exhausts and how they work ever since I was a very young kid.  You can find drawings of cars I drew when I was five years old and they all have some form of an exhaust under them.  I was excited when Dad would take me to Pep Boys and other parts stores and I go visit the exhaust tips and such at that young age.  In school I’ll doodle muffler internals on the side of my worksheets and blank pages in the back of my binders.  Eventually we got a welder and started playing with it at about 14.  Put a turbo muffler on Mom’s 3.3 Caravan and helped construct the exhaust on my Dad’s El-Camino by the time I was 15.  Then when I started driving and all my friends started driving it snow balled from there.

How would someone else get into this position?

I really do not know.  If you have a passion in this kind of work, ultimately you will find yourself in it professionally.  I was extremely lucky to find my current job.  It was totally by chance.  I have grown immensely since I started.  Faster, better and more precise.  I’m very anal about my work.  I usually try to get most of my custom exhausts within an 1/8″ inch (when duals), often within a 1/16″.

Anything you want to add?
A lot of people ask for modifications based on internet forums and usually bad information.  I cannot count the amount of times people ask for exhaust modifications that I recommend against, then only to come back to have me do it the right way and they are often much happier.  Most people believe you need “some backpressure”  or larger is better.  You want natural exhaust velocity.  Too much exhaust area and the outward exhaust pulse is weakened and hampered by atmospheric pressure trying to overcome the pulse by heading up the exhaust.  Too little exhaust area reaches peak velocity earlier but can ultimately result in some backpressure on the top end at WOT.  You want to match the exhaust to the main use of the vehicle.

I met Jeff in the early 2000s after we both joined the same car club and we've pretty much been bouncing ideas off each other ever since. I've owned numerous cars over the years and have not been able to keep a single one stock. While I definitely have a 'thing' for Toyotas, I enjoy and respect the work put into any make, model, year, or type of vehicle.

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