Subscribe to the Free

Breathe Right

Installing Headers and Exhaust Is a Sure-Fire Hit!

Andrew Schear Mar 21, 2005

In the past we've produced bolt-on power with nothing more than off-the-shelf parts and a few hours time. But power is just one of the ingredients in musclecar soup. In other words, we've yet to see a speed limit imposed on the rumble of a cool exhaust system.

It's no secret that the stock LS1 exhaust has room for improvement with respect to both sound and power. It was this train of thought that led us on our search for a new radical exhaust system for our '02 LS1 Camaro. Our goal was twofold, to gain power and even more importantly, end up with a raspy exhaust note that we would love and expect from a Chevrolet engine.

While the notion exists that installing a set of headers on an LS1 is a near impossibility, we're here to tell you otherwise. The Hooker 50-state-legal headers and Borla adjustable cat-back exhaust were installed by Jeff Kay at BE Custom, in Chatsworth, California, using common hand and air tools with very minor exhaust fabrication. We think you'll agree that the workmanship of these parts is well worth the expense.

Since numbers don't lie we found 9 hp at the rear wheels on Morgan Motorsport's chassis dyno, and quite a difference behind the wheel. After a trip to nearby Irwindale Raceway, we showed astounding gains of .2 seconds and 2 mph in the 1/8 mile, and made lots of noise in the process. I guess one might say that our bark was as menacing as our bite.


The fit and finish easily rivaled the stock exhaust system. The Borla system is a two-part arrangement, consisting of a full cat-back and a Y-pipe.

Remove all the exhaust hangers, starting at the rear.

Detach the clamp between the Y-pipe and the exhaust.

Remove the exhaust support brace.

Disconnect the Y-pipe from catalytic converters on both driver and passengers' side.

Remove the Y-pipe and exhaust.

Install the cat-back, beginning at the rear of the system, leaving all the fasteners hand tight until the entire system is in place. The installation of the new exhaust follows the same route as the stock system.

When installing the tips, the fitment should be slightly below the bumper. After the entire system is installed, additional adjustment may be necessary.

Where the passenger side tip meets the muffler, an aluminum plate is installed to control backpressure. Depending on how radical the motor is, a determination can be made for which plate to use. We found that the middle plate provided a likeable exhaust note and ample backpressure.

After all the tubing is in place, begin to snug clamps starting at the front and moving to the rear.

Reconnect the new Y-pipe and fasten the exhaust brace back in placeA slight bending of the brace may be necessary to fit the larger diameter tubing. Start the car and check for exhaust leaks


Borla Performance Industries
Oxnard, CA 93033
Morgan Motorsports Inc.
Reseda, CA 91335
Holley Performance Products Inc.
Bowling Green, KY
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print