Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

Hooker Blackheart F-Body Bolt-in Header and Exhaust System

I Love My Hooker Headers

Aug 31, 2018
View Full Gallery

Typically, when starting work on a project car with the idea to do a gradual build-up, one of the first things us muscle car guys do is toss the stock exhaust system onto the scrap pile in favor of something much better. A vintage muscle car equipped with a stock exhaust tends to sound wimpy and lack an aggressive tone, and more importantly, it’s likely stifling the car’s ability to move spent fuel freely to the tailpipe. So not only does the car sound docile, it’s being robbed of precious performance. On a previous project armed with an LS3, we gained approximately 40 horsepower by replacing the stock exhaust manifolds with long-tube headers. That’s just too much horsepower to leave on the table for such a simple modification.

Let’s face it, we all want our cars to sound cool, and the end goal is to get the most horsepower and torque out of our engines. There’s really no reason to settle on a stock or underperforming exhaust system unless you are building a concours restoration. In that event, then a stock exhaust system makes sense.

We got our hands on a 1968 Camaro that had recently gone through an LS engine swap, but had yet to be fitted with an exhaust system. This was a situation where we didn’t want to spend a ton of time working on a custom exhaust, so we got in touch with the guys at Holley Performance and they recommended using their Hooker BlackHeart 1967-’69 GM F-Body LS Swap Full-Length header and their stainless steel 1967-’69 GM F-Body exhaust system.

This is a fully bolt-on exhaust system for those running a stock F-body suspension system. For us, 90 percent of the exhaust system bolted right in, but since this car had an aftermarket rear suspension system and had been mini-tubbed, we came across a few challenges that required just a little bit of cutting and welding to enable us to run the exhaust over the rearend and locate the exhaust hangers. Had this been a stock rear suspension, the Hooker BlackHeart exhaust system would have bolted right in with all the parts offered in the kit.

Follow along as we show how simple it is to install long-tube headers and a full exhaust system on a first-gen Camaro in just a few hours.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 002 2/20

1. The Hooker BlackHeart 1967-’69 F-Body LS Swap 1 3/4-inch Ceramic Coated Full-Length Headers (PN 70101507-1HKR) and 1967-’69 F-Body LS Swap Header-Back 2.5-inch Exhaust System (PN 70501318-RHKR) is just what we need to wake up our LS-swapped ’68 Camaro. This system offers excellent performance and it will sound killer.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 003 3/20

2. Chevy High Performance Tech Center Manager Jason Scudellari got started by disconnecting the negative cable from the battery, disconnecting the spark plug wires, and removing the dipstick tube. He then swung in the 1 3/4-inch first-gen F-body Hooker BlackHeart LS Swap long-tube headers from under the car. This little trick required resting the headers on the spark plugs then slowly lowering the lift enough so Jason could continue the installation from up top.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 004 4/20

3. Jason then slid in the supplied header gasket for a tight, no-leak seal. No one likes the ticking sound of a leaky exhaust header. Especially us.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 005 5/20

4. Jason then tightened up the supplied header bolts with a 13mm socket. It’s a good idea to tighten them by starting with one of the inside bolts then work your way out to the ends.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 006 6/20

5. With the headers tightly bolted up and looking good, we reinstalled the dipstick tube and are ready to get cracking on the 1967-’69 Camaro Hooker BlackHeart 2.5-inch exhaust.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 007 7/20

6. Being that our LS-swapped Camaro was previously outfitted with long-tube headers, we just simply bolted the existing O2 sensor to the bung on new Hooker BlackHeart headers.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 008 8/20

7. Because we forgot to order a set header adapters from Holley, due to time constraints on this article, we hit up our friends at The Muffler Man (Placentia, California) to quickly whip out a set with some tubing they had laying around. Holley offers them (PN 42107HKR) so you don’t have to go through the hassle like we did. Plus, the Hooker BlackHeart adapters look a whole lot better, being they were specifically designed for this application.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 009 9/20

8. Moving forward, Jason connected the crossover-pipe to the turn-in, which mates to the header adapters. As a helpful tip, be sure to slide on the supplied clamps before connecting the crossover pipe. We made that mistake … once.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 010 10/20

9. With a pole jack holding the crossover pipe in place, we lightly bolted on the clamps, making sure the ends of the bolts are pointed up for maximum ground clearance. Don’t fully tighten them down just yet.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 011 11/20

10. Next, Jason slid on the mufflers. It’s important to make sure the crossover-pipe is centered using the driveshaft as a reference point. We used a small piece of wood as a shim to get the system dialed in and even on both sides. We’ll hold that muffler position by using one more pole jack.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 012 12/20

11. Here, the two mufflers are mocked in place. We’ll fine-tune the fit just a little more before final tightening.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 013 13/20

12. Next up, Jason worked on fitting in the over-axle tubes. If you have an aftermarket rear suspension system or sway bar, there is a good chance of running into interference. At some point this car was upgraded with an aftermarket rear sway bar, which was in the way of the exhaust tube, so we removed it to illustrate how easily the over-axle tube goes in.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 014 14/20

13. Prior to tackling the rear portion of the exhaust, Jason made sure the headers, crossover pipe, and mufflers were lined up properly, and then snugged them down. This ensures correct alignment so the rear section will line up nice and even.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 015 15/20

14. Before cranking down the muffler sleeves, make sure the mufflers are installed in an equal distance length-wise. We used the driveshaft yoke as a reference point.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 016 16/20

15. Although this is a bolt-in affair on a stock Camaro, we had to do some minor welding and fab work to locate the supplied muffler hangers and rubber isolators that normally connect to the rear seatbelt bolts. If your car still has the rear seatbelts, you’ll have to remove the rear seat and replace the factory seatbelt bolts with the longer ones provided in the kit.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 017 17/20

16. Since the car has also been mini-tubbed, the stock muffler hangers are long gone. This also meant we had to shorten the end of the over-axle tubing a few inches near the frame. We marked the cut line with a black felt-tip pen.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 018 18/20

17. Jason added a little custom touch by pie-cutting the tip to add a little more style to the exhaust outlet.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 019 19/20

18. It’s all about using proper angles, and you can see how good the outlet tip looks lined up with the bottom of the quarter-panel between the leaf spring.

Hooker Blackheart Header And Exhaust 1968 Camaro 020 20/20

19. And there you have it. A great-looking, bolt-in exhaust system that also offers excellent performance and an aggressive sound that we muscle car guys dig. This installation will cost you just about four hours of time and a few beverages if you have a buddy helping out, which is always a good idea.

Photos: Nick Licata

Sources

Muffler Man
714.524.7818
www.ocmufflerman.com
Hooker BlackHeart Speed Exhaust
270-782-2900
www.hookerheaders.com

MORE PHOTOS

VIEW FULL GALLERY
X

Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print
CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS
TO TOP