Come on, we've all done it ... you know, making engine noises as a kid. Only, well, some of us still do it—yep, guilty as charged. The difference these days is that now we can follow through and get our street machines to sound like we want and enjoy those tunes via a blip of the throttle.
Regardless of the powerplant you're into, be it a small-block, a big-block, or an LS variant, a good exhaust system will do a number of things: the great sound you're looking for, the quality of material used, and even throw a little more horsepower into the mix.
This month, we swapped out the exhaust in our '02 C5 Z06 Corvette with a new cat-back system from Borla Performance Industries. This new system comes with everything you need for a complete installation, including the gaskets and clamping assemblies.
And if you didn't already know it, Borla offers a number of muffler choices to help cater the sound levels to your own personality. If you're looking for maximum performance with an unrestricted sound, Borla offers an off-road racing type of system. For street cars, you'll want to look into their line of Touring, S-Type II or ATAK cat-back packages. The ATAK line, which stands for Acoustically Tuned Applied Kinetics, has an extremely aggressive tone for the street. For reference, the ATAK system features the highest available decibel levels in Borla's street-legal lineup. If you prefer something a bit more on the milder side, there's the Touring muffler systems.
These days, since our Z06 sees regular track and street duty, we wanted a system that featured a deep, low, throaty tone that resembled more of a traditional American muscle car sound. The obvious choice for us; the S-Type II. While everyone's tolerance for noise levels will vary, we really dig the tone and wouldn't have it any other way.
As we learned from our install with Stevie Morrow at Stevie's Garage in Simi Valley, California, Borla's cat-back system is a true bolt-on, requires minimal tools to complete, and the quality is truly second to none.
01. Borla offers several cat-back systems to accommodate your needs. If you're looking for a system for your track-only car, there's an aggressive setup that eliminates the mufflers all together. For the street, you've got a number of choices to pick from, with varying sound levels. For our Z06, we ordered up the S-Type II stainless steel cat-back assembly (PN 140427) with the dual split rear exit pipes.
02. Disassembly will be contingent on your current system. If you're removing the factory assembly, you'll need to loosen up the four sway bar bolts; this isn't the case with most aftermarket systems. For non-Z06 applications with an automatic transmission, you'll also need to remove the muffler hangers to take out the pipes.
03. Beginning with the passenger side, the mounting flanges were then scraped to ensure a smooth sealing surface for the new gaskets.
04. The Over Axle pipes were then routed into position and secured to the factory H-pipe; we used the same procedure for the opposite side.
05. All of Borla's cat-back systems are built out of T304 stainless steel, inside and out. More than likely, it'll outlive your ride—a pretty safe bet with Borla's million-mile guarantee. We've mentioned earlier that Borla offers a variety of systems. Sound aside, if it's a different look you're after, you'll be happy to know you've got a choice of exhaust tips, and you can also opt for a system with single-split exit pipes, which has two tips instead of four like ours. Note: If you're looking to upgrade the entire system, Borla also offers a long-tube header assembly with your choice of front resonator or X-pipe.
06. With the Over Axle pipes in place, Morrow placed the factory hanger assembly onto the mufflers and mounted it directly into its proper location. Just be sure to keep the bolts loose for the time being; this will help align the tailpipes for final fitment.
07. With the cat-back mounted, it was just a matter of eyeing the exhaust tip placement and tightening down the hardware: the exhaust flange that connects the Over Axle pipe and the four hanger bolts. That's it.
08. There you have it. In less than an hour, we had the new Borla system installed and looking great. From here, it was just a matter of firing up the LS6 and checking for any leaks. Final thoughts: We couldn't have asked for an easier install and the sound quality is exactly what we were looking for.