C-Body Headers and Exhaust - Nice Pipes
Gain power and torque with C-Body headers and exhaust
From the August, 2012 issue of Mopar Muscle
By Dave Young
Photography by Dave Young
When new, a Mopar C-Body was a status symbol as it meant you could afford one of the most comfortable and roomiest offerings by the Chrysler Corporation. The C-Bodies also offered the best ride qualities, with a long wheelbase and straight-tracking torsion bar suspension, and we feel their sheer bulk makes them some of the safest cars produced during that era as well. And while C-Bodies like our '69 Newport convertible are still desirable and collectible, certain sectors of the aftermarket have been slow to provide many of the parts needed to restore these cars, which might be why we don't see more of them at the events we attend or while driving on the road.
Fortunately, Tube Technologies Incorporated (TTI) hasn't forgotten about those of us who love C-Bodies, offering both headers and exhaust systems for both standard and station wagon versions of Chrysler's biggest cars. When we purchased our Newport, our intent was to make it a driver that we could fix up as we go along, and drive this car we have. In fact, after performing some necessary maintenance and upgrades to the brakes, suspension, and engine, we've put several thousand miles on the car, including a nearly 2,000 mile round trip last summer to the Mopar Nationals and back from our Florida home. And even though we replaced the exhaust manifold gaskets and hacked together some decent exhaust for our car to get it on the road, exhaust leaks and sub-standard exhaust components resulted in leaks and our lack of tailpipes meant a substantial amount of exhaust fumes were entering the cabin of our Newport. Additionally, the mufflers installed on our Newport weren't exactly quiet, and the constant drone of exhaust mixed with the vibrations of the exhaust tubes hitting the car's floor made for a noisy ride. Needless to say we needed a good exhaust system if we wanted to continue enjoying the car, and our research led us to two distinct options.
The first option for new exhaust was to simply take our car to a local shop and have them bend up and install a new system for us. And although it can be convenient to have a local shop do the work, there are several drawbacks to this option. First, the factory exhaust manifolds on our Newport are more than 40 years old, and were never known for their exceptional flow capabilities. Additionally, the manifold-to-cylinder head mating surfaces of factory manifolds warp over time, making it difficult for the gaskets to seal and lead to annoying leaks between the manifolds and cylinder heads. At the "donut" gasket area where the manifold attaches to the exhaust pipe corrosion causes another problematic area to seal. Yet another drawback to the local exhaust shop is that the tubing benders that most shops use actually crush the pipe at the area of the bend, which restricts flow and robs power. If you think it's less expensive to use a local shop, think again. The shop we went to quoted us over $600 for dual exhaust and mufflers, more expensive than a full system from TTI, and this didn't offer any option for replacing our aged factory manifolds.
Because of all these reasons, we decided our best option would be to get a pre-bent exhaust system and a pair of aftermarket headers, and install it ourselves. We checked the TTI website, www.ttiexhaust.com, to see what they had for our C-Body. Catering to Mopar enthusiasts, TTI hasn't forgotten about those of us who prefer the largest Chrysler products, offering long-tube headers for '65 to '73 C-Bodies featuring 1 7/8-inch primary tubes and three inch collectors. Smaller primary tubes might make more sense for our stock 383 four-barrel engine, but these headers should provide unrestricted flow and will give us room to grow as we modify our engine with an aftermarket camshaft, cylinder heads, and other components. The TTI headers work with either a stock starter or Chrysler mini-starter, and we chose the ceramic coated units so they'd look good for a long time to come.
To back up our headers, TTI offers complete 2-1/2 or 3-inch exhaust systems made from 16-gauge aluminized pipe, and fitting either factory exhaust manifolds or aftermarket headers. Like all of TTI's exhaust systems, the C-Body systems are CNC fabricated for accuracy and proper clearances, and mandrel bent so there is no restrictive crushing of the tubes at the bends. Each TTI exhaust system features an H-pipe crossover, and is available either with or without mufflers. We ordered TTI's 2.5-inch diameter kit for our car that included Dynomax super-turbo mufflers since they flow great, and don't drone like some other performance mufflers when cruising at highway speeds. Our parts arrived quickly, and we were impressed at the care TTI takes in packaging their products. The headers and exhaust components were wrapped individually in bubble wrap, then plastic, and boxed in heavy-duty cardboard containers. Even better, each end of the exhaust tubing had a protective plastic cover to keep the ends from being dinged, ensuring all the parts would slip together easily. We were eager to get our exhaust installed, but first decided to put the Newport on the chassis dyno to get some power and torque numbers prior to installing the new headers and exhaust system.
1 The TTI C-Body headers...
1 The TTI C-Body headers feature 1 7/8 inch primary tubes and three inch collectors. The flanges at the collector and cylinder head are 3/8 inch thick, so warping or leakage is unlikely. They even added clearance where needed for spark plugs and header bolts. These headers are available in bare finish, ceramic coated, or with a polished ceramic coating. We chose the plain ceramic coating which gives a satin-nickel type finish.
2 Here's the old exhaust,...
2 Here's the old exhaust, hacked together from the remains of what was on our car when we got it, and some extra mufflers and pipes we had here at the shop. We've been eager to get new exhaust on this car for some time as it will make the Newport much more pleasant to drive.
3 TTI exhaust systems that...
3 TTI exhaust systems that come with mufflers generally come with Dynomax Super Turbo muffler, resulting in good flow and a nice rumble at idle, without causing a drone at cruising speeds. Stay tuned for an upcoming issue where we test several different mufflers for noise and horsepower.
4 Installing the headers...
4 Installing the headers is performed from under the car, and the engine needs to be jacked up about 1-1/2-inches on each side to slide the TTI header in place. This was a tight fit, but by following the instructions we had our headers in place with minimal hassle.
5 The exhaust installation...
5 The exhaust installation starts with the tailpipes and hangers, and works forward toward the headers. The muffler hangers with our kit bolted directly to existing holes in the car's frame, but we did have to drill holes for the tailpipe hangers.
6 We had previously installed...
6 We had previously installed an aftermarket rear sway bar on our Newport, and had a slight interference issue with the rear tailpipe. We corrected this by simply shimming the sway bar bushing away from the frame.
Since the exhaust we're replacing ended at the back axle, we knew there was a chance that the full TTI system could be slightly more restrictive since it included tailpipes. Even so, we figured the headers would definitely improve our stock 383's power numbers and were eager to see by how much. On the dyno, our Newport made a best pull of 209.87 horsepower at 4,400 rpm with the stock manifolds and hacked together 2.5-inch exhaust system. Peak torque was 286.56 lb/ft at 3,300 rpm, which is about right for a stock 383 measuring power at the back wheels. With our baseline established, we got busy removing our car's old manifolds and exhaust and installing the new headers and exhaust system from TTI.
We've installed TTI systems in the past, and have always found that if we read the included instructions, installation is easy. In fact, the only time we had a problem with TTI products was on a vehicle in which the engine was moved from the factory location, so it really was our problem and not TTI's. Luckily, the TTI instructions listed how to check for proper engine location and we quickly corrected the issue. Working on our Newport, we decided to install our headers first, which required pulling the engine mount bolt out and jacking up each side of the engine for clearance. As a test, we checked to see if the headers could be slid in without jacking the engine and they can't. Of course if the engine isn't in the car yet the headers can simply be put in place prior to engine installation, but in our case we jacked the engine up and installed them from the bottom per the instructions. It was a tight fit, and the starter had to be removed, but we got the headers in place in about an hour using a lift for the car and transmission jack for the engine. You could probably install the headers with jack stands and a jack, but the lift made the operation much easier.
Working from the rear of the car, we began installing the exhaust next and started with the tailpipes. TTI tries to utilize factory holes for hanger mounting when able, and on our Newport, the muffler hangers bolted directly to holes in the factory frame. For our tailpipes, we had to drill a hole in the side of each rear frame rail for the hangers, but this was the only fabrication necessary. Working forward, we installed our mufflers and H-pipe, and connected the system to the headers with the pre-bent and welded adapters supplied in our kit. For headers of different brands, TTI also has an adapter system to connect the headers to the exhaust. Because our car has an aftermarket rear sway bar, the tailpipes were too close for our comfort, but by shimming the sway bar mount we got adequate clearance. This isn't a TTI problem, just one of those issues you run into when utilizing equipment that the Chrysler never had from the factory, like a rear sway bar.
TTI offers a choice of exhaust tips, but since we prefer a factory look for this car we chose the stock-style turn downs. The turn downs (or tips) simply slide over the tailpipe and are held on with band-style exhaust clamps. The instructions say that for certain applications the ends of the tailpipes may need to be cut for proper tip placement, but the tips fit perfectly on our '69 Chrysler Newport. With the exhaust installation complete, it was back to the dyno.
One of the best feelings when modifying a car is getting to hear the sound of new dual exhaust for the first time. When we fired up the Newport we were impressed by the quietness of the car. Without the ticking of manifold leaks and noise of the loud mufflers the car was amazingly smooth and quiet. During the drive over to the dyno we were further impressed as we experienced no rattles and no drone at highway speed. And no fumes either which was an even better benefit.
Strapped to the Dynojet chassis dyno, we made two back to back dyno pulls netting nearly identical results. Horsepower was up by over five percent at 221.81, and torque was up as well at 297.99 lb/ft. This is an improvement of some 12 horsepower and nearly 12 lb/ft of torque, simply by installing an exhaust system that fits great and is far quieter than the exhaust it replaced. The 383 in our Newport is milder than even a stock 383 HP, with dish pistons and only 8.5:1 compression, but simple math tells us that replacing manifolds and exhaust on a more powerful engine would net even more dramatic results.
The Cash Outlay
|TTI Coated C-Body headers
|TTI C-Body 2.5 inch exhaust
|Silicone for Header Bolts
Run Date: 3/27/2012 10:54:05 AM
Run Date: 3/30/2012 9:10:27 AM
7 With the tailpipes in place...
7 With the tailpipes in place the mufflers and then the exhaust pipes between the mufflers and headers can be installed. The TTI system incorporates an H-pipe to equalize back pressure between cylinder banks. An H-pipe has been proven to reduce exhaust noise, and improve power over a non H-pipe equipped car.
8 Since we used TTI headers,...
8 Since we used TTI headers, we simply bolted the exhaust to the headers using the supplied collector pipes. TTI also offers kits that bolt up to factory manifolds or universal kits for use with other brands of headers.
9 Our exhaust fit nicely...
9 Our exhaust fit nicely with no interference and plenty of ground clearance. The tailpipes are tucked nicely under the rear bumper, and the factory turn downs we chose for our kit give our Newport a factory look. TTI also offers polished stainless steel exhaust tips if you prefer that look.
10 We dyno'd our Chrysler...
10 We dyno'd our Chrysler on our Dynojet chassis dyno with the old exhaust and again with the TTI components installed. Yeah, it barely fit on the dyno.
11 Our stock, low-compression...
11 Our stock, low-compression 383 gained 12 horsepower and nearly 12 lb/ft of torque by adding the TTI headers and exhaust. Power and torque were up throughout the rpm band, making our C-Body that much more fun to drive.