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Corvette Headers Guide - Go With The Flow

Vette's Official Guide To Corvette Headers

Christopher R. Phillip Apr 8, 2010
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Here's an easy quiz for VETTE readers:
Q: Why are headers a great bolt-on choice for Corvettes?
A: They produce more horsepower and torque than factory exhaust manifolds.
B: They create a more aggressive sound than factory exhaust manifolds.
C: They give your Corvette a custom, race-car look.

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No matter what your answer (and all of them are right), there's one thing for sure: headers go great with all Corvettes. That's why this month we're bringing you our "Official Guide to Corvette Headers."

The goal of a header is to improve exhaust-gas flow out of the engine. With the right headers and a well-matched exhaust system (VETTE, "Great Pipes," Aug. '09), you should be able to greatly reduce the exhaust-gas flow restrictions that prevent your Corvette from reaching its full horsepower and torque potential.

Because choosing a header system for your Corvette is a personal choice based upon numerous factors, we won't be favoring one of these manufacturers over the others. Instead, we'll list them all (half this month and half next month) and allow them to state their case. All that's left is for you to decide which of them is right for your car.

(800) 848-5850

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Brief description:
We offer 100 percent stainless-steel long-tube headers, with bolts, gaskets, O2 extension cables (if required), installation hardware, and triple-layer, stainless-steel gaskets. All EGR and AIR connections are in factory locations, our O2 bungs are designed for use with factory O2 sensors, and a color instruction manual is included for easy installation. Our C5 headers have 1.750-inch primary tubes and 3.00-inch collectors. When used with our 2.50-inch intermediate system, they provide a 30hp gain with a stock tune. Our C6 and C6/Z06 headers have 1.875-inch primary tubes and 3-inch collectors. When used with our 3-inch (Z06) intermediate systems, they provide a 16hp gain with a stock tune (more on tuned vehicles with additional hp boosters). Our headers provide an excellent torque curve that gives any Corvette owner great balance between low-end torque and higher-rpm horsepower.

We are known for our quality and consistency. Our prototyping and production processes provide an excellent fit every time. Installers, as well as customers throughout the U.S. and internationally, rave about the quality, consistent fit, ease of installation, and impressive performance.

Quote from company:
"For the best in fit, function, quality and performance, demand Dynatech's SuperMAXX."

American Racing Headers (ARH)
(631) 608-1986


Brief description:
ARH stormed into the header manufacturing world with our C5 and C6 lines. Attention to detail, quality materials, and some innovative thinking helped us get to the forefront within a year's time. Some of the most powerful naturally aspirated and boosted Corvettes breathe through American Racing Headers and set records worldwide. What sets ARH apart is that our Corvette lines cater to a wider range of applications, with various options in primary size (13/4-, 17/8-, and 2-inch), merge-collector size, and midsection (3 or 3x21/2-inch). This allows you to fine tune the header system to better suit your needs. A trademark with ARH is that we're not a "one size fits all" company.

Trademark Features:
To maintain a smooth transition from the cylinder head to the header and provide a leak-free seal, all ARH systems come with 3/8-inch-thick flanges with TIG-welded and hand-ported inlets. Merge collectors have always been standard on everything we build. Our Corvette systems place the X-style crossover pipe directly in line with our collectors (ahead of the cats) to improve low and midrange torque, without compromising top-end power. Our 200-cell metallic-substrate cats are the most durable available anywhere.

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Quote from company:
"We're quite proud that our systems are 100 percent U.S. made. We will never compromise quality for profit, and we will back our products with the finest customer service."

Bassani Xhaust
(distributed exclusively by West Coast Corvette)
(888) 737-8388

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Brief description:
West Coast Corvette (WCC) has joined forces with Bassani Manufacturing to bring you the all-new Dominator GT Performance Series exhaust headers systems for all C5, C6, Z06, and ZR1 Corvettes. If you're looking for superior performance, killer sound, and stunning good looks, your search is over. With a "performance first" motto, Bassani spends countless hours on research and development to squeeze out the most horsepower possible, while maintaining a smooth, resonance-free sound.

Trademark Features:
All Dominator GT headers are constructed of 100 percent stainless-steel, mandrel-bent tubing, are made in the USA, and come with a limited lifetime warranty. The unique design produces the widest torque band of any available header. The 17/8-inch primaries have proven in testing to be the minimum-needed diameter to maximize the potential of the Corvette's incredible LS-series engines.

Quote from company:
"Bassani has been recognized as a leader in specialized exhaust components for more than 40 years, and when you add in West Coast Corvettes' 24 years, there is no question that together we can bring you the ultimate header systems."

(951) 296-1771

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Brief description:
We make a shorty replacement set for the C5 and complete stainless-steel, full-length systems for the C5 and C6.

Trademark Features:
We pressure test every header after welding to assure there are no leaks.

Quote from company:
"Why follow when you can lead?"

Billy Boat (B&B)
Performance Exhaust
(888) 228-7435

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Brief description:
For more than a decade, Billy Boat Performance Exhaust has manufactured one of the finest headers available for the C5 and C6 Corvettes. The originator of the LS1 shorty header, B&B applies technology previously found through its extensive racing background to every header it manufactures. By utilizing the firing order of the engine, B&B pairs the cylinders together to use the exhaust pulses for more efficient scavenging and optimum performance gains throughout the entire rpm range. Using only the highest-grade T304 stainless-steel materials available, CNC mandrel-bent, 16-gauge stainless-steel tubing, and 3/8-inch-thick stainless-steel flanges, every header is hand-fabricated and Tig welded in sturdy steel fixtures for precise fit and a finish like no other header on the market.

Trademark Features:
One hundred percent T304 stainless steel, 16-gauge mandrel-bent tubing, TIG welded, limited lifetime warranty.

Quote from company:
"With more than 25 years of experience in the racing and exhaust industry, Billy Boat has learned a few things about performance. Whether it is leading the field as the fastest qualifier at the 1998 Indy 500 or leading a team of highly skilled fabricators, performance is measured by more than just horsepower. Performance is delivering beyond expectations."

Borla Performance Ind.
(877) 462-6752

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Brief description:
Borla Performance builds long-tube racing-type headers for the C5, C6, and Z06. They can be used with either Borla or factory muffler systems and have been carefully tuned to give optimum performance.

Trademark Features:
These headers are made of austenitic stainless steel, not the lower-grade 409, and include an X-style pipe between the collectors and the over-axle pipes.

Quote from company:
"Borla is the 'World's Most Winning Exhaust', used by successful racers from LeMans to Pomona, and every venue in between."

Doug's Headers (Pertronix Performance Products)
(909) 599-5955

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Brief description:
Doug's Headers offers a complete line of headers for the C1 through C6 models, including full-length, four-tube manifold replacement, four-tube shorty, and four-tube tight-tuck designs.

Trademark Features:
Doug's Headers are premium-priced designs using heavy 16-gauge material, 3/8-inch-thick machined flanges with polished metallic-ceramic coatings, and come with all the necessary mounting hardware, collector reducers or connector pipes, premium gaskets, and detailed installation instructions. Doug's Headers have a limited one-year warranty.

Quote from company:
"Doug's will not compromise performance, quality, or fit to compete with inferior designs at cheap prices."

Exotic Muscle, Inc.
(480) 967-4222

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Brief description:
Exotic Muscle has been building its own line of headers for more than 10 years. We are probably most known for our L98/LT1/LT4 header. This header has gone through several revisions and is now the most popular header in the C4 community for its ease of installation, horsepower-producing capabilities, and the facts that it retains all emissions fittings and is reasonably priced. This header has a 13/4-inch primary tube with a 3-inch collector. The flange is a stout 3/8-inch thick, and the header is ceramic coated inside and out. We also offer extension pipes, X-style crossover pipes, as well as after-cat systems to match.

In addition we can do custom racing headers for the C4 Vette. These headers can be made from mild steel to 321 stainless, depending on the customer's preference. The primary tubes can be stepped from 13/4 to 2 inches, or in a straight 17/8-inch size. We can also add a merge collector and ceramic coating if desired. The flanges are CNC cut. This header is truly state of the art and can be customized for your racing needs.

EM also offers headers for C3, C5, and C6 Corvettes. Call for your needs.

Trademark Features:
Exotic Muscle headers are unmatched in design, performance, and craftsmanship. We stand behind our product.

Quote from company:
"Add extra power to your Corvette by bolting on a quality set of EM headers."

(270) 782-2900

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Brief description:
FlowTech headers are precision engineered and leak tested to get maximum performance and fuel economy from your engine. They're available with either a high-quality, electrostatically applied satin-black paint finish or with a specially formulated, NASA-developed silver-luster ceramic coating for rust and corrosion resistance.

Trademark Features:
Each header is formed from specially selected 0.049 cold-roll, flash-controlled tubing, and features our exclusive thick, mandrel-formed Power Plenum collector. All ports are precisely fitted and finished with sturdy, leak-proof O-ringed port seals. All FlowTech headers include mounting hardware, including bolts, nuts, and premium gaskets.

Quote from company:
"No other brand offers more in the way of value in performance."

Hedman Hedders
(562) 921-0404

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Brief description:
Hedman Hedders manufactures application-specific header designs for '55 to '91 Corvettes. We offer full-length models for SB and BB powerplants, including sets for D-port heads. If you run side pipes, Hedman also offers long-tube hedders that are configured for use with them.

Trademark Features:
Hedman has been manufacturing headers for more than 50 years, and with that longevity comes quality and consistency. Every set of Hedman Hedders is backed by a limited lifetime warranty from the factory. Each model offered is designed to fit a specific vehicle, which means that it installs easier and provides maximum performance gains for your sweat equity. Hedman's Corvette headers are manufactured using mild-steel materials, and are available in either standard-duty uncoated or standard-duty with HTC ceramic coating. Several of our Corvette models are also available as an Ultra-Duty Elite Hedder that utilize thicker flanges and tubes than standard-design headers.

Quote from company:
"Hedman Hedders was the very first hedder production company in the world, and over the years, we were responsible for many 'firsts' among exhaust header manufacturers. Functional improvements such as ceramic coating of headers, stepped tube headers, and flat race collectors are only a few of the innovations that have made Hedman the number one name in headers. In fact, Hedman is the most searched header brand on the Internet."

Hooker Headers
(270) 782-2900

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Brief description:
With Hooker Super Competition headers, the objective has always been to make the maximum horsepower and to put it at the optimum point in the power curve. Super Competition side-mount headers deliver the most aggressive style and performance for your early Corvette.

Trademark Features:
Hooker Super Competition headers are built from lightweight 18-gauge tubing. Side tubes slip directly to the collector for a leak-free seal. Hooker side-mount headers and side tubes come with three choices of coating: show-quality chrome, high-heat-resistant black paint, and Hooker's metallic-ceramic thermal-barrier coating.

Quote from company:
"Hooker Headers-the winningest header manufacturer in automotive drag racing history. When only the best will do!"

JBA Headers (Pertronix Performance Products)
(909) 599-5955

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Brief description:
JBA Headers offers premium-quality, heavy-duty, stainless-steel construction and massive power gains. JBA offers a wide variety of smog-legal "Cat4ward" shorty and long-tube racing headers for most Corvette applications.

Trademark Features:
JBA headers are made from heavy, 16-gauge stainless-steel material, 3/8-inch-thick machined flanges, and are also available with metallic-ceramic or titanium coatings as an option. Each header features the patented Firecone collectors for maximum horsepower and torque, and comes with premium gaskets and fasteners.

Quote from company:
"JBA builds performance through technology. Each header design accommodates the differences in each application for maximum performance gains and durability."

Kooks Custom Headers
(866) 586-5665

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Brief description:
Kooks Custom Headers has dominated the Corvette header market since the first C5 hit the showroom in 1997. We have proven time and time again that our headers will make more overall horsepower throughout the entire rpm band than any other header company. Pair our headers with one of our X-style crossover pipes for the most performance gains.

Trademark Features:
When you deal with Kooks, a sales technician will work with you from the start to figure out what your plans are, then tailor a header-and-exhaust package to your needs. This includes the diameter of the primaries and emissions-systems requirements, and it may include high-flow catalysts.

With the best 304-grade stainless steel, 3/8-inch-thick stainless flanges, Kooks' patented Scavenging Spikes (Patent #D589,982), True Merge collectors, and aerospace-quality welds, Kooks has set the standard when it comes to header excellence. Kooks also provides a multi-layered aluminum gasket so that your Kooks headers seal up the first time. We also sell optional locking header bolts, so that they stay sealed up the whole time. We give a lifetime warranty on all of our stainless-steel header systems.

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Quote from company:
"When you think of Kooks, think of quality. And don't forget to 'Get Kookin' with Kooks!'"



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