OUR HISTORY

Our History

 

This GoodFabs' history was written by Ian Wagstaff, a freelance journalist specialising in motorsport and the automotive components industry.

 

The early 80s – a Good start

Good Fabrications, one of the world's leading fabricators of exhausts for motorsport as well as a top manufacturer of tube and custom bends, first came into existence in May 1982. It was then that Steve Good, a fabricator with the Grand Prix winning McLaren team, left to start his own business.

 

His company's first premises was a workshop in Dick Bennett's Ashford-based West Surrey Engineering, then a leading Formula Three entrant. Within less than a year, Steve had moved to leased space at Spirit Racing in Slough.

 

Another former McLaren fabricator, Jeff Hill, started with him on a self-employed basis. At this time the business was just a two-man operation working on things such as suspension; tubes were yet to come.


Customers at this stage included Toleman, which went on to become the Benetton Formula One operation and eventually Renault. The most notable achievement for the little team during Good Fabrications' first year with it was a fighting second place for the then up-and-coming Ayrton Senna in a rain-soaked Monaco Grand Prix. The mercurial Brazilian additionally finished on the podium in Germany and Portugal that year.

 

Steve also carried out work for his former employer - McLaren - fabricating uprights and wishbones.


Steve's landlord, Spirit, had, like Toleman, moved into Formula One with Good Fabrications assisting in the building of its Hart-engined cars in 1984 and 1985. With no tube bender at this stage, Good Fabrications bought in bends for the exhausts.


Move to Windsor

After about 18 months in Slough, Steve purchased an old coach house in Windsor with a forge enabling him to move his workshop into his back garden. It was about this time that he purchased his first tube bender and started serious work on exhaust systems.

 

Amongst the first customers for these was March for its Formula 3000 cars, the Bicester racecar manufacturer winning the F3000 championship in each of the first three years during which it was run. Steve was to continue supplying to the formula working for its engine manufacturers Cosworth and Zytek.


Good Fabrications also moved into World Championship sportscar racing, supplying exhausts systems for the charismatic Group C TWR-run Jaguars, which won the Le Mans 24-hours in 1988 and 1990.

 

The company was now beginning to concentrate heavily on exhausts, a business that was proving to be more lucrative than other fabrication work.

 

Work continued for McLaren, fabricating the systems for the turbocharged TAG Porsche engines that the team used from 1983 to 1987, winning the F1 World Championship with Niki Lauda and Alain Prost in 1984, 1985 and 1986.


Rallying with Prodrive

At this time, few others were supplying motorsport exhausts systems at such a high level. There was also work for leading rally teams - Prodrive was to become a regular customer.

 

Good Fabrications developed the exhausts systems for the Banbury operation's highly successful works Subaru team which won three drivers' - for Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg - and three manufacturers' World Rally Championships.

 

Good Fabrications also supplied the systems for the Prodrive developed Ferrari F550 Maranellos that won the GT class at Le Mans in 2003.


The Brits in Indy

After a couple of years at the forge, Steve moved his workshop to Datchet and then, in August 1988, to Langley, and expanded the business into the lucrative IndyCar world.

 

Work for the F3000 Marches led to more for said manufacturer's Indy cars, which, during the mid-1980s dominated the field at the Indianapolis 500, winning the race on five consecutive occasions.

 

It was an era when British cars were the only ones to have for Champ Car racing as it then was and Good Fabrications went on to work for Lola, which took over as the dominant IndyCar supplier from March in the late 1980s, winning the 500 in 1990.

 

It also supplied Reynard, which came first at the Brickyard in 1995, driven by future F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, and 1996.

 

Good Fabrications had really taken hold of the IndyCar market, which now became its main business. It is thought that, in the mid-1990s, when every one of the 33 cars on the Indianapolis 500 grid was either a Lola or a Reynard, that the company supplied exhausts for the entire field.

 

Wastegates were also made for the turbocharged Cosworth XB engine that competed at the Speedway, winning in 1995 and 1996. The XB was also the engine that powered Nigel Mansell's Lola during the two years that he competed in Champ Car, winning the championship in 1993 as well as Rookie of the Year award at Indianapolis.


McLaren and Ferrari in F1

Good Fabrications had not, though, forgotten its Formula One roots.

 

The company supplied Brabham right up to its final, Judd-powered season in 1992.

 

McLaren continued to be a customer and when its iconic designer, John Barnard, who had been responsible for the 1984 to 1986 title-winning cars, moved on, becoming responsible for the Ferrari F1 cars from a base in Guildford, the company also took on work for the world-famous Italian manufacturer.

 

The Beatrice-backed Carl Haas Lola raced in Grands Prix by former World Champion in 1985 and 1986 also used Good Fabrications exhausts.

 

Other F1 customers in the 1990s included famous names such as Lotus and Tyrrell plus Pacific, which took part in Grand Prix racing in 1994 and 1995 and Forti that competed in 1995 and 1996.


Reynard was also a customer during its time as a production Formula 3 manufacturer, Good Fabrications again supplying stainless steel systems, mainly built by Jim Claridge, for virtually every F3 car on the grid.

 

It was a formula in which there was also profitable aftermarket business.

 

British Touring Car Championship contenders, such as MGs, Volvos and Andy Rouse's 'works' Ford Mondeos, were also to find their way onto GoodFab's customer base.

 

In the mid-1990s the Opel teams in the then Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), such as Joest, Zakspeed and Rosberg, also began to use Good Fabrications stainless steel exhaust systems. This proved to be an excellent market.


The inconel era begins

While exhausts had effectively taken over the business, the company carried out suspension work for the Peugeot 905 Le Mans winners of 1992 and 1993. (Good Fabrications was to supply to the French manufacturer again in 2007, the year that it returned to endurance racing.)

 

However, the company had come to realise that exhausts were a far more profitable sector.

 

Weight saving Inconel had come into use on F1 turbo systems in the mid-1980s and, by the end of the 1990s, this had found its way onto the IndyCars.


In September 1993, Good Fabrications established a well-equipped base in Indianapolis close to the workshops of racecar constructor Riley and Scott and with assistance from the latter's Mark Scott who had worked with Steve at McLaren. Good was supplying systems direct to both Lola and Reynard but the opening of a US base gave the leverage to both protect and grow what became a massive aftermarket business. Steve regularly attended the Indianapolis 500.


When the spilt occurred in IndyCar racing in 1996 and Champ Car and the Indy Racing League went its separate ways, the US operation was closed down. However, Good Fabrications continued to supply for the Lolas and Reynards of the former, and such teams as Penske Racing and Target Chip Ganassi, while also manufacturing bends for Ilmor's IRL Chevrolet engine.

 

It continued to supply for the championship-winning Toyota and Honda powerplants of Champ Car until the series became a single engine formula in 2003. In NASCAR, Good Fabrications also became a supplier to the three-time Cup championship winning Joe Gibbs team.


Steve’s tragic accident

In November 1999, Steve was tragically killed in a helicopter accident and the company was inherited by his wife, Angie. Phil Levett, who had been with Good Fabrications since April 1989, and Warren Briggs took over the day-to-day running of the company, while Simon Cavey returned, as with Steve's death there was again a need for his tube bending expertise. At about this time the company commenced doing all of its jig work in-house.


GoodFabs, as it is now known, has continued to supply Inconel exhausts systems from its current base in Long Crendon to the highest level including F1 and NASCAR, as well as to lesser series such Formula Palmer Audi and Caterham racing and to non-automotive sectors such as the defence and marine industries.

 

When, in 2002, Toyota entered Formula One, it turned to GoodFabs as a supplier.

 

McLaren, third in the constructors' championship that year, was still amongst its customers.

 

Other F1 operations that have sourced from GoodFabs since then are BAR/ Honda, Arrows, Jordan, Minardi, Renault, Midland, Spyker, Force India, Asiatech, Toro Rosso and HRT.

 

When, in 2008, long-term customer Prodrive assembled the first Lola-chassied Aston Martin-engined Le Mans prototype since the 1960s, it also used GoodFabs bends.

 

Another loyal sports car customer has been Rollcentre's Martin Short who has used GoodFabs' systems on his Radical LMP2 car as well as his Moslers, one of which won the Britcar 24-hour race at Silverstone in 2005.


Looking outside F1 after the 2008 downturn

Although Honda withdrew from the World Championship in 2008, GoodFabs again grew its Formula One business so that, during the 2011 season, it supplied product to over one-third of the cars, including outright Grand Prix winners.

 

Other European customers were to be found in Formula Two, the World and British Touring Car Championships as well as the Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg.


In 2009 the company also entered the motorcycle world through collaboration with Austin Racing. Inconel exhausts systems, designed with Austin Racing and manufactured by GoodFabs, became available for the Aprilia RSV4 and the BMW S1000RR.


In 2009 Neil Morgan took over as managing director from Warren Briggs. The next year GoodFabs opened a 3,000 sq ft workshop in Mooresville, North Carolina, USA, in order to better service NASCAR, Subaru Rally Team USA and its other North American customers, ranging from ESPN X Games competitor Vermont Sportscar to Pro-Stock bike drag teams.


In 2012 GoodFabs employed its own machinists and invested in CNC Machining Centres to be able to supply its own machined parts and make all jigs in-house. The ability to quickly make tooling for pressed parts enabled GoodFabs to create shaped tube that was not possible through standard mandrel bending techniques. The quantity and range of tooling available to GoodFabs for mandrel bending of exotic materials, such as Inconel and titanium, is believed to be the largest outside the aerospace industry.


An NDT line was established as part of the new inspection area which houses a state of the art Faro arm with full laser scanning capability. A laser etcher facilitates laser part marking in addition to chemical and dot marking. Inspection and NDT staff now process fabricated, machined and DMLS parts on a daily basis.


The new turbo era

In 2014 Ross Allen was brought into GoodFabs as general manager to look after customers in the new V6 turbo era. Ross was heavily involved in the development of the Mercedes V6 Formula One engine, having come from Mercedes AMG High-Performance Powertrains, where he worked in strategic buying and technical buying roles. Ross was approached by new F1 entrant Haas in 2015 and joined them as Head of Purchasing.  


For confidentiality reasons, GoodFabs cannot reveal is present customer base but it continues to serve multiple F1 teams and engine builders supplying development and race parts.


In late 2016, Austin Racing made the decision to move its production of motorcycle exhausts in-house which freed up GoodFabs to design and fabricate its own Inconel and titanium systems using new techniques and ultra-lightweight materials. Titanium headers for the Honda Africa Twin CFR1000L and a full Inconel manifold for the BMW S1000RR will be the first systems to carry a GoodFabs badge after 34 years of service to F1 and top motorsport. Under the new brand GFMoto, some of the world's best fabricator welders employed by GoodFabs are now making the lightest and strongest motorbike exhausts available for road and track use today.  Go to www.gfmoto.com to see all our products and find out how we fabricate them.

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A member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, Ian Wagstaff writes regularly for a number of magazines in both Europe and the USA including Racecar Engineering, Race Engine Technology, Performance Racing Industry, ATZautotechnology, The Red Bulletin, Car & Accessory Trader and Import Automotive Parts & Accessories.

 

In 2006 he was awarded the Mercedes Benz Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy for his book 'The British at Le Mans'. He was also given the Guild's Pierre Dreyfus Award in 1986.

 

His books include 'The British at Indianapolis', which won the Association of American Auto Writers and Broadcasters Book of the Year award for 2010 and 'Audi R8', which was published in 2011.

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Good Fabrications Ltd
Unit 3a Drakes Farm

Drakes Drive
Long Crendon

Aylesbury

Bucks
HP18 9BA

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