It's the little details that can sometimes make or break a Vette. And it was one of those little details that recently almost broke "The Phoenix." Before the last owner handed me the keys to his newly wounded '87 coupe, he had custom-built himself a replacement set of pipes for the car's rear. With a nice set of tips out back, the look fit the Vette well. It's just too bad the exhaust didn't fit the Vette equally as well.
The stock versions are fitted with a "muffler hanger" system that secures both sides firmly to the impact bar, which is, in turn, surrounded by the bumper skin. Along with a pair of rubber dampeners, the hangers provide a safe and rattle-free ride. Somewhere along the way during the install, the system was removed and replaced with a couple of "L" brackets when the new mufflers and pipes went in. While we're sure this system-used on several other kinds of custom installs-worked when the last owner drove the car, the accident tweaked most of the rear and probably the exhaust along with it. Now, as it turns out, those brackets were much too short and required constant attention on weekends after five days of trips back and forth to the offices of Team VETTE.
It was on one of these weekends that the exhaust finally gave up its ghost and "self adjusted," breaking free when the bracket snapped-much to the surprise of the Mercedes-Benz driver behind me. Being on a section of interstate where there were no shoulders, I had little choice but to drive the quarter-mile dragging part of the Vette behind me. When I arrived at a spot I could stop, the exhaust neatly dropped off after having bounced enough to shake the retaining bolts loose. Giving the metal time to cool, I packed it in the hatch and made my way home (loudly) to give my catalogs a good looking-through. My requirements were simple: Cheap. Since the Vette is still basically factory, an aftermarket system didn't make a lot of sense, especially when I might need another one after I do any serious changes to the '87. With that, I phoned up Zip Products and soon had a stock exhaust in my hands
Since it's a stock system, nothing special was required other than a free couple of hours, two C-clamps, and a muffler hanger set also available through Zip. In no time, the car was on the lift at the Tech Center and we were in, out, and on the road once again-this time without scaring the cars behind me. Looks like shedding season for this Vette is over.