It might be hot rodding’s first commandment: “Thou Shalt Install a Dual Exhaust on Thine Muscle Car.” And for good reason: the symmetry improves the sound and exhaust tuning of our favorite V-8 engines.
While 1998-’02 fourth-generation F-bodies have a lot going for them (capable chassis, modern LS engines, six-speed transmissions, and iconic aesthetics), the single exhaust system is a hang-up for the ponycar faithful. The torque arm/Panhard bar rear suspension was a traction revelation for GM’s rear-drive ponycar, but it also dictated a compromised, “single” exhaust system.
F-body enthusiasts demanded an affordable, well-designed dual exhaust system for their beloved ponycars. Familiar with the packaging restraints in the fourth-generation chassis, Hooker BlackHeart exhaust designers accepted the challenge. The result is their cat-back and header-back true dual exhaust systems for 1998-’02 Camaros and Firebirds.
Systems are available that connect to the factory catalytic converters, Hooker’s mid-length headers, or Hooker’s long-tube headers. The cat-back system is 50-state emissions legal, while the header-back systems are designed for race-only vehicles.
Customers can choose high-quality 304 stainless steel tubing or more affordable 409 stainless material. All systems feature lightweight 18-gauge, 2.5-inch tubing with a merged X-type crossover for improved scavenging and sound over a single-tube system. Polished 6-inch mufflers rumble through 3-inch polished, laser-etched stainless steel tips.
Hooker’s designers knew that room around surrounding components and the pavement is minimal so they carefully designed the exhaust system to maximize clearance in critical areas. The result is an exhaust system that fits as great as it sounds.
We’ve heard owners rave about this system so we wanted to learn what all the excitement was about. We traveled to Hooker’s facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to witness the installation of their Race Only Dual Exhaust system (PN 705013128RHKR) on an ’02 Camaro equipped with Hooker’s long-tube headers. CHP
1. The Hooker BlackHeart exhaust system for 1998-’02 Camaros and Firebirds converts fourth-generation F-bodies to a true dual exhaust. It’s constructed from lightweight 18-gauge, 2.5-inch stainless steel tubing and features an X-pipe; polished mufflers; and polished, laser-etched tips. The kit includes detailed instructions, all the necessary hardware, and clamps.
2. The polished, laser-etched exhaust tips are compatible with Camaro and Firebird rear valances.
3. This ’02 Camaro sported a set of Hooker’s long-tube headers for 1993-’02 LS-equipped F-bodies, which connect directly to the dual exhaust system (PN 705013128). Exhaust kits are also available to connect to the factory catalytic converters as well as Hooker’s mid-length headers.
4. To gain the needed clearance for the over-axle pipes, Hooker includes these spacers for the Panhard bar mount brace.
5. Next, we installed the included bracket to reattach the heat shield to the Panhard bar brace.
6. We installed the exhaust system starting at the headers and worked our way back. Using the supplied couplers, we connected the adapter pipes to the header collectors.
7. Then we connected the X-pipe inlet tubes to the header adapter pipes. We snugged up the clamps to keep the parts in position, but loose enough to allow for adjustment.
8. Next, we removed the center brace and connected the X-pipe.
9. The X-pipe uses the factory exhaust hanger for support and vibration isolation.
10. After reinstalling the center brace to support the X-pipe, we snaked the over-axle pipes into position and loosely connected them to the X-pipe with the supplied couplers.
11. The over-axle pipes are secured with a tab close to the end. We used the supplied nut and bolt to fasten them together, which keeps them in alignment to avoid rubs, rattles, and squeaks.
12. Hooker includes these nifty nut plates that slip inside the framerails for hanging the rear mufflers.
13. We also added the included hanger bracket to the left-side framerail.
14. Before hanging the mufflers, we assembled the included hanger brackets and rubber isolators using the supplied hardware.
15. Then we attached the isolator brackets to the framerails using the supplied bolts.
16. Next, we installed the crossover pipe for the left-side muffler.
17. Next, we hung the left-side muffler and connected it to the crossover pipe.
18. We then inserted the front hanger into the supplied isolator.
19. We transferred the OEM isolator to the front of the right-side muffler.
20. Then we installed the right-side muffler and installed the hangers into the rear isolators.
21. Next, we reattached the OEM isolator using the factory fasteners.
22. Finally, we slipped the tips over the mufflers and adjusted their length to our taste. Then, we went back and adjusted the alignment of all the tubing and tightened the clamps and couplers securely.
23. Not only does the Hooker BlackHeart dual exhaust system sound great, it offers exceptional ground clearance. It’s a win-win for any fourth-gen F-body owner!