Up to this point in our C5 on a Shoestring project, we haven't performedany modifications aimed at improving straight-line acceleration. Thatchanges this month, when we launch a series of projects intended to makethe car accelerate as well as it handles, brakes, looks, and drives.
Our first order of business is to install a complete high-performanceexhaust system. While the factory exhaust is relatively efficient, it isnecessarily compromised by decibel restrictions, cost concerns, andassembly-line realities. As a result, there's significant horsepower tobe had in the installation of a quality aftermarket system.
We wanted to add more than just a converter-back setup. To get maximumperformance, a set of headers is mandatory. There are a wide variety ofheaders available for the C5, and most share the same basic features. Inthe end, we chose SLP Performance Parts' Tuned Length Long Tube Headersbecause of their reputation for performance, build quality, and ease ofinstallation.
Choosing the right components for the rest of the exhaust system isequally important. One mistake Corvette owners often make is choosingdifferent manufacturers for headers, pipes, and mufflers. Do this, andthere's a good chance the parts won't match up during the installation.The answer isn't to take a 20-pound sledge to the pipes and bash theminto fitting. Instead, we think installing one complete exhaust systemfrom a single manufacturer gives you the best chance of havingeverything fit properly the first time.
Since we had already selected SLP's headers, we chose the company'sPower-Flo exhaust to complete the package. The Power-Flo was designed tominimize interior resonance, so you can hold a conversation withoutshouting, or listen to the radio without cranking it up to 11. It alsohas one of the best-looking exhaust tips on the market and ahigh-performance sound to match. Best of all, the Power-Flo is pricedvery competitively.
We placed our order, and when the shipment arrived, we were like kids atChristmas. We tore open the seven SLP boxes and laid the exhaust out infront of the car. After verifying that everything was there andfamiliarizing ourselves with the layout, we began the installation.
While it's preferable to use a lift-as we did-it is possible to performthis install using jackstands. If you go this route, remember to usequality stands and to follow all safety procedures when jacking yourcar. You'll also need an assistant to provide an extra set of hands. Ifyou decide to have the work done at a shop instead, be prepared to payfor approximately eight hours of labor for the headers and anotherone-and-a-half hours for the rest of the exhaust.
So just how much extra performance did we pick up with the SLP parts?We'll have a better idea once we've completed the rest of our horsepowerupgrades (more on that next time) and run the '97 on the chassis dyno.For now, we're enjoying the considerable sonic benefits of the long-tubeheaders and Power-Flo exhaust. Even at high speed, there's littleinterior noise, and the rumble emanating from the tips is pure Corvettemusic. What's not to like?
SLP Performance Parts, Inc.
1501 Industrial Way N.
Toms River, NJ 08755