Exhaust System Options

Exhaust System Options

Choices: Exhaust System

For the past several weeks, before I head off to bed, I’ve taken a few minutes each night to listen to exhaust system sound clips.  The sound is what it’s all about.  I want a deep, mellow, yet healthy sound.  I don’t want a mind-numbing drone, and I don’t want to deafen myself.  I also don’t want it to constantly sound like I’m farting into a gas can.  But I DO want some throaty-ness when I thromp on it.

One thing has become abundantly clear in my research: Most guys go overboard when it comes to exhaust systems (and engines and carburetors and pretty much everything else, too).  Guys throw on these 2 1/2″ or 3″ pipe dual systems on cars making 300 horsepower, which is excessive.  Mounting pipes that big is also a huge pain because they don’t tuck up under the car nearly as well as smaller systems do, and they have a propensity to scrape over bumps and things, causing your rectum to pucker every time you go over a speed bump.  A dual-exhaust setup with 2″ pipe is more than adequate for anything making less than about 290 HP.  2 1/4″ can easily handle 370 HP.  It’s all about flow.  I won’t bore you with the details here, but there’s a great explanation over at ExhaustVideos.com.  Suffice to say, bigger isn’t always better, and going too big can harm performance.

My thought is to go with a 2″ system like the factory used, since my engine makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 270 HP.  I’ve considered future-proofing the car with a 2 1/4″ system, since there’s no increase in cost, which would also help compensate for any restriction from bends in the piping and the GT exhaust tips, but even that small increase in size changes the fitment.  The last thing I want to do is fight fit, and since the 2″ system is plenty, that’s probably what I’ll go with.

Having decided on a general direction isn’t really helpful, though.  It brings up more questions than it answers, the first of which is, do I buy a pre-made system or do I have a custom system done for me at a local shop?  Pre-made 2 or 2 1/4″systems run the gamut from affordable ($220 or so) to exorbitant ($1000+), I haven’t priced out custom systems yet.  Even a prefabricated system needs to be fitted and sized for the car, but I figure having the manufacturer do all the bends up front could save a shop time.  The main differences between systems are:

  • Muffler brand / type
  • Exhaust system material (stainless or aluminized)
  • H-Pipe or X-Pipe crossover

Whether I have a custom exhaust system made or base my system off of a prefabricated system, a primary factor in how it sounds is, of course, the muffler.  Because of their popularity, Flowmaster sound clips are easy to come by.  I’ve listened to clips of almost all of their mufflers, installed on cars very similar to mine, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of how they’ll sound.  MagnaFlow is another, albeit slightly less popular, contender, but their systems are harder to get a read on.  The no-name mufflers are the hardest, for obvious reasons, but I’d like to hear them before I step up to higher-priced units.  An exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers is easily $200 more expensive than the base muffler option.  The basic mufflers sold by most of the parts houses are “Turbo-style,” whatever the heck that means.  And for some reason, nobody is proud to show off their turbo mufflers, so finding sound clips of turbos on a car has been a chore.  One dark horse is the Arvinode system, which was briefly fitted on K-Code Mustangs in 1965.  It’s a bit pricey, but it’s got a unique sound to it that would certainly set me apart from the other guys at Cruise Night…

Obviously I’m far far FAR away from needing to make a choice, but it’s a lot of fun to think about.  What do you guys think?  I could even recreate the previous system (shown in the picture at the top).

Here are some clips:



Arvinode (I love the sound of this one in the first two clips, but the third one…not so much)

Possibly Turbo-Style Exhaust System Clips?

2 thoughts on “Exhaust System Options”

  1. The very last one of the potential “turbo” type mufflers (red mustang with green paper over the license plate) is what I recall as a true turbo muffler sound.

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