In 1983, when our Z28 was the king of a very weak army, its exhaust consisted of dual mufflers and twin, concealed outlets. It was considered somewhat exotic for the time. But after 15 years and 140,000 miles of service, it was definitely time for a change and an upgrade in exhaust technology. However, with a bone stock and very tired 305 huffin’ and puffin’ to make the wheels roll, we knew it wasn’t fair to expect much (if any) performance gain from a new exhaust system. But having fresh, new tubes is always a good idea. It will ensure even the most tired engines are breathing as easily as possible. Oh yeah, and they sound real cool.
Under the direction of third-gen Camaro guru Bruce Hawkins, owner of Hawks Third Gen Parts, Stainless Works has created a bolt-on, clamp-together, full 304 stainless steel, mandrel-bent system as a direct fit for later cars with 2 1/2-inch exhaust manifold outlets and without a catalytic converter. The 3-inch systems, which incorporate a true turbo crossflow muffler, are sold exclusively through Hawks. Unfortunately, since our ’83 had 2 1/4-inch outlets and a cat, we weren’t able to take full advantage of the Hawks’ system by using their optional Off Road Y-pipe. We also had to do a bit of cutting and welding to adapt things in the converter area.
We look forward to the day when the Crossfire Z gets a new engine and larger exhaust manifold outlets that will accommodate the Y-pipe so we can complete the system. Because Hawks designed the package with optimum ground clearance in mind, the muffler tucked up against the gas tank shield quite nicely and the outlets peeked out from under the corners of the car just like they were intended to. While the stock mill didn’t give the new muffler much to work with, the sound of the Hawks’ system was smooth and rich. The tone was also much cleaner without the numerous exhaust leaks that had been squeezing from the eroding seams of the stock pipes. A “before and after” trip to the chassis dyno also gave us an added bonus when it showed that the upgraded exhaust provided about five extra horsepower.
01. Before we did anything, the Camaro got tied down on the chassis dyno for a little flogging. We were surprised to find that the anemic smog engine actually moved the dial and lived to tell about it.
02. The over-engineered stock system had so many twists and turns it would have taken more than a week to knock all of the rust off to get it removed. Nothing a little persuasion from a Sawzall couldn’t handle.
03. Ahh, high performance at its best, circa 1983
04. We first laid everything out on the floor to figure out what went where.
05. It didn’t take long to figure out that there was a little mismatch of sizes with the high-flowing Hawks Y-pipe and our early-model smog manifolds. We’ll use this one next time.
06. We mocked up, and temporarily connected, the bends that routed over the rearend and connected to the muffler and outlet assembly.
07. Once we determined that everything fit (never a doubt), we removed the outlets and used a transmission jack to hold the new muffler in position. At the TEN tech center we have all the right equipment.
08. Once we had the muffler in position, we reinstalled the tips.
09. We left the clamps loose so that we could rotate them as needed for the best fit once the rest of the system was attached.
10. With the back half held in place, we began working on the front side, which unfortunately, wouldn’t be quite so clean.
11. Since this is a California car we had to keep the catalytic converter in place and work around the stock, intermediate mount.
12. Working around the converter required the ugly task of “necking down” the 3-inch tubing supplied in the Hawks’ kit to make a connection to the intermediate mount.
13. This made it necessary to make a trip to the local muffler shop where we picked up this small piece of reduced tubing to make the connection.
14. We also had to break out the welder.
15. Fortunately for those in the 49 other states, this will be a “none issue” and the system will bolt right in with the heavy-duty stainless steel clamps that are included.
16. With the front side all buttoned up, we needed to permanently secure the muffler assembly. The late-model system didn’t match up with the hangers on our ’83. Nothing a trip to the parts store couldn’t cure. These universal hangers only cost a few bucks and worked well.
17. We had to fire up the welder again.
18. We were really happy with the way the muffler assembly fit up against the gas tank shield. We won’t have any ground clearance problems with the Hawks setup.