We all love the open header sound of a worked-over V-8, but let's be honest, after a while it starts to wear you down. Besides, unless you want to get to know all your local police officers, you're going to need some sort of exhaust system on your Camaro. The real trick is to find a system that tames the noise while still keeping an aggressive sound we all love.
We've been bolting together a nice budget-minded 1967 RS, and it was time to quiet down the new 450hp 383 stroker. After looking around, we opted to try Dynatech's MuscleMaxx system. We liked the heavy-gauge stainless construction, and the price point seemed to fall where an "average Joe" could afford it. It's a bolt-in deal, but our problem is that we have a Heidts four-link out back—not the leaf springs this and just about every other classic Camaro exhaust system was designed around. Our solution was to roll the Camaro over to our local exhaust guru, Lee Watts, at The Muffler Man in Placentia, California. He took a look and figured out a way to route the Dynatech system around our rear suspension in a way that would look good and sound great.
1. The Dynatech MuscleMaxx exhaust kit (PN 31179391125, $583 from Speedway Motors) came partially assembled, and while it's designed to work with their MuscleMaxx header reducer cones, it can be adapted to work with any brand of header. The mandrel-bent system is made from stainless steel and features a thick, 0.060-inch (about 14 gauge) wall thickness. This system's tubing was 2.5-inches (perfect for our 450hp small-block). Dynatech also offers a 3-inch system.
2. Lee Watts, owner of The Muffler Man, was very impressed with Dynatech's X-pipe construction. This is how they custom make 'em, and doing it this way produces a more efficient and better sounding exhaust. In fact, he thought this was one of the nicest X-pipes he'd seen from an aftermarket system.
3. The 14-inch stainless mufflers come with the hangers already welded in place and ready for the do-it-yourselfer. They call the finish "natural", but it has a nearly polished look.
4. The mufflers feature a "straight through" design, which is one of the best ways to keep an engine churning out maximum power.
5. The Dynatech system is sold in a way so that the average guy can install it at home needing nothing more than basic hand tools. As such, the system ships with all the clamps, hangers, and hardware needed to get the job done.
6. Our engine was fitted with Hooker headers, so Muffler Man's Jake Watts needed to fab up an adapter pipe and add a three-bolt flange. Once the flange was tack-welded in place, Jake worked his TIG around the perimeter to ensure a leak-free seal.
7. One choice you'll have to make when having your system professionally installed is whether you want the sections MIG or TIG welded. TIG welding will look the best, but expect your labor bill to about double since it's far more time intensive. But as you can see, the results sure look pretty.
8. The kit comes with hangers that utilize bolts on the floor of the Camaro. However, The Muffler Man prefers a more secure mounting point. They install longer bolts through the seatbelt anchor holes and use these to hold the hangers. In our case, the bolts were ½-inch course thread.
9. The included hangers on the mufflers were cut away and new hangers are used in their place. You can also see how Jake bolted the hangers to the longer seatbelt anchors. Once the mufflers were aligned just right, the hangers were MIG-welded in place.
10. The system was basically built into three sections, with the mufflers welded to the middle X-pipe section and the left and right tailpipe sections being removable from the mufflers. To ensure the Dynatech clamps seal as good as possible, Jake lengthened the cuts so the clamps could better close down around the muffler exit.
11. Now, this system was designed for a first-gen with a stock leaf-spring rear suspension. We, however, have a Heidts four-link, and this is where going to a professional shop like The Muffler Man really paid off. After sloshing it around his cranium for a bit, Jake figured out a way to go over the axle and under the Panhard rod. The process was trim, fit, trim, and so on, until it looked right. He then tacked the pipes in place.
12. The same trim-and-fit process was used with the tailpipes. Once he had them routed correctly, Jake then tacked it in place and slash-cut the tips in line with the lower quarter-panel.
13. With the pipe tacked together in the right shape, Jake then pulled the assembly and TIG-welded all the joints.
14. To support the tailpipes, Lee welded bolts to the frame for the hangers. He then bent the rods until they fell against the side of the exhaust pipes.
15. The procedure was then repeated for the passenger side. The toughest part of the exercise was getting each side to mirror the other.
16. And just like that, the exhaust system was done. The hanger mounting points made it feel rock solid, and when we fired up the 383 small-block, it sounded awesome. It wasn't too loud, especially in the driver's seat, but had a nice, deep tone. Lee said that the Dynatech system would cost about $250 to get MIG-welded in place on a stock car with leafs. Obviously, our TIG-welded, semi-custom installation would cost more, but considering the leak- and rattle-free system we ended up with, it was money well spent.