Now that I've swapped in a 5.0 from a 93tbird for my 95's 3.8N/A engine, there's no prayer of my tbird passing CA smog. That's OK because it now means that I have no reason to keep the cats on my car.
Given the age of the existing pipes on my car (I used one of the exhaust systems from my 93 donor cars) were so old, I started looking for an alternative system that would be:
b) an improvement in flow over my existing system
c) offer increased ground clearance over my existing esystem
d) Pop out of my trunk where a license plate would normally go with a Pagani Zonda Quad Exhaust tip (stupid yes, but why not?)
I first looked at piecing together a system with various bends from summit racing.
I then found that Mandrel Exhaust Systems offered bends for cheaper.
On a lark, I sent them an email asking if they could put a package together for me based on their existing Exhaust tubing kit in 3" + some extra bends.
Over the course of 24-25 emails, Josh and I put together a deal whereby he would sell me:
- (2) 2.25" downpipe sections w/ flanges he wanted test-fitted. They would arrive ~4.5" apart (the typical center-to-center distance for most X and Y pipes with 2.25" inlets). BTW, 2.25" was suggested to me by Rayo as the largest pipe that would fit the stock exhaust manifold balls. As usual, he was right.
- (1) 3" Midpipe section to route the exhaust underneath the gastank and out near the diff (to which I would replace a small section with a 12" glasspack)
- (1) 12" Glasspack
- (1) 3" 90-degree bend to route my exhaust up into the trunk area (it helps not to have a spare tire well anymore).
- (2) O2 Bungs
- Misc Hangers
- (4) Header Flanges to make my exhaust easily removable at the racetrack (in case I need to swap engines again)
I supplied the following parts from Summit Racing
Flowmaster Y pipe, dual 2.25" input, 3.0" out, FLO-Y214300 $43.99
Schoenfeld Header Collectors SO63049H, 4-to-1 Collector to use as an exhaust Tip , $36.95
What Josh @ Mandrel Exhaust Systems Sent Me Far Exceeded My Expectations!
While I haven't completed my exhaust install yet, my initial findings stunned me as I expected to make far more cuts and splices/rewelds than it looks like I need to do.
Observations - Shipping
* Everything was shipped as promised which is always nice.
* There were a few holes punched in the box by UPS (a think another layer of cardboard would have helped at the end) but none of the pipe tips were banged up.
* I also think MES's packaging person going nuts with the industrial stapler (esp stapling the small box with the small parts + glasspack to one end of the big box) is a really smart practice.
Observations - Downpipes
MES nailed the angles of the downpipe exactly right!
* While the angles from the exhaust manifolds were already well known (45 and 90 degrees), MES nailed how quickly to make the 2.25" pipe transition to a horizontal plane and how quickly to converge them to the X/Y-pipe inlets.
* Most importantly, the downpipes sit in the cutouts on the transmission brace AND above the frame rails so I have no concerns about scraping these pipes anymore (this was an issue with a catless SC system a friend traded me that used glasspacks for downpipes. They hung below the frame rails and definitely scraped the track at times given my ride height.
* This ability to adjust the different lengths of the downpipes let me center the Y-pipe underneath the driveshaft AND account for the different distances INTO the y-pipe (The Y-pipe inlets aren't symmetrical -- I suppose to make welding easier). I also appreciated the fact that MES gave me a little extra tubing so I can adjust how far back to place the Y-pipe.
- I had a follow-up chat with Josh at MES (in my two or three conversations with the guy, he has always been friendly and polite BTW -- another HUGE plus), he told me he can also pre-weld on any O2 bungs people might want installed.
PS. The last time I checked, it was NOT illegal for any company to sell you catless downpipes for offroad/racing use only. This is why there is no problem with Summit Racing selling these parts as well.
Observations - Midpipe and Beyond
* Besides cutting into the mid-pipe to fit the glasspack, the only cut I needed to make so far is ~2" off the front tip of the mid-pipe. Since MES didn't know how long my Y-pipe would be, I can't imagine the could have easily planned how far from the front of the mid-pipe to make the first bend. Given that fact, 2" of excess isn't bad at all.
* The only thing I find myself needing that didn't come in this package that I needed to take my Lemony "pagani zonda" style exhaust tip to a muffler shop to be expanded so I could slip it over the last 90 degree bend.. $5 and 30 sec later I was happy.
* This system is a good deal lighter than the stock system.
Q: Finally, what should you do with the stock system?
A: Keep it or cut it up and sell the cats here http://www.sellyourcatsdirect.com/
(recommended by some folks on the 24 Hours of Lemons Forums)
BOTTOM LINE: You have to keep in mind that MES does NOT sell a "bolt on" exhaust system. If you accept this fact, I think you'll find that you can get yourself a quality exhaust system for relatively little money -- esp if you weld it together yourself. Not all shops have a mandrel bending system (vs a crush bender) so you might even find it cost effective to buy this kit and bring it into a shop. Josh's customer service was excellent and I couldn't be happier with the results.
I will post additional pics (and maybe a youtube clip) as soon as I finish installing the exhaust for but now, here are some pics I've taken so far...