What Are Some Considerations When Choosing An Exhaust?
One of the most popular upgrades anyone can do to their muscle car is to upgrade the exhaust system from the stock pipes. However, many considerations must be considered before ordering an exhaust system.
What Type Of Upgrade Is Important
Many car owners have visions of massive amounts of performance and sound coming out of their exhaust, and it is possible to accomplish that. Yet, others are trying to increase horsepower but aren’t worried about the sound. They just want to go fast. Any consideration of a new aftermarket exhaust system must include a determination of how loud and powerful you want to go. Be sure that your engine can handle the expected increase.
What Configuration Is Needed?
Exhaust systems are usually made in Cat-Back, Axle-back, and Header-back systems. Let’s look at them below.
A cat-back system involves installing pipes from the catalytic converter to the exhaust pipe tips. These systems include the mid-pipe, muffler, tailpipe, and exhaust tips. The advantage of this system is that airflow is improved because the installed pipes are usually more extensive than the stock. The larger pipes provide improved performance and better sound enhancement. At the same time, a cat system will not improve emissions (because the exhaust gases are already passing through the catalytic converter).
This is the exhaust piping from the exhaust manifold next to the engine and hook it back. Anyone who has worked with exhaust manifolds and exhaust systems in Mopars will tell you that they can be a pain in the butt to replace. You will need to ensure that the pipes are bent to the exact specifications of your make and model, and even then, there isn’t much room, so it is likely to take some work. These systems are more expensive due to the number of pipes involved. (If you are replacing the whole system, consider installing a Dynomax Super Turbo and exhaust manifold for major high-performance upgrades).
If you decide to replace the entire exhaust system, you must decide if you want an H-pipe or X-pipe configuration. (They get their names from their shape). Generally, an H-pipe can give you good performance boosts, while X-pipes offer a higher raspy sound and performance upgrades to the exhaust system. (Our personal opinion is that the H-pipes are an excellent choice if you want the deep growl that Mopar muscle is known for)
As you might have guessed, these systems are the easiest to replace since they slip off the stock piping after the muffler. While they may provide less power boost than you wish, depending on the type of tips you purchase, they can look great and install easily. So, if you are all worried about looks and a little sound, opt for the axle backs and use the money you save for another part of your restoration project.
What Is The Budget?
Exhaust systems come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. For most systems, you will spend about $1000 - $1200 for a quality system, depending on how much exhaust you replace. Determine your budget ahead of time so there are no surprises. Consider an axle-back or cat-back system if you are on a tight budget.
What Is The Piping Made From, And Is It Dyno-tested?
Most exhaust systems are made from stainless steel or aluminized steel. Stainless steel is more robust and does not conduct heat like the cheaper aluminum pipes. While aluminum is lighter and less expensive, it also is more susceptible to discoloration and corrosion. Dyno testing will ensure that it meets or exceeds performance figures.
What Are The Best Mopar Exhaust Systems?
There are several aftermarket producers of exhaust systems for the best performance difference for your Mopar, and we have detailed them below.
Flowmaster American Thunder Exhaust System
Flowmaster’s American Thunder is a quality exhaust system that has been around for years. Using various chambered mufflers to provide performance gains and bone-chilling sounds (even during idle). This system ranks high on our list for full-throttle production. Available in various configurations, including cat-back, axle-back, and header-back applications. Made with 16 gauge tubing, and a choice of steel or aluminized steel, the American Thunder will bring a smile to your face.
Most American Thunder systems will run $750 - $1500 depending on your car's year, make, and model. (We loved the look of the American Thunder Cat-Back exhaust for the 2015 - ‘18 Charger SRT, even though it was a bit over our $1500 limit). The four-inch stainless steel tips work on this car).
Flowmaster is a part of the Holley family of companies and makes its headquarters in California. The company has existed since 1983. It was initially called HushPower when it designed exhaust systems that could quiet down the overwhelming sounds of race cars without killing their performance.
- Moderate to Aggressive Sound Quality
- Racing roots
- Stainless Steel or Aluminizes steel
- Various fits and applications
- American made
- Three-year warranty
- The return policy could be better
MagnaFlow Axle-Back Performance Exhaust
The Magnaflow Axle-Back is a high-quality dual exhaust system that optimizes airflow with a race-ready, lightweight dyno-tested design. The system is built to offer good quality aggressive resonance (you will want to double check your noise ordinance or just take your chances, but don’t say we didn’t warn you).
The MagnaFlow uses a 2.5-inch main pipe ending in a quad-split rear exit, with 3.5-inch polished, welded double-wall, angled cut folded-edge tips. The exhaust pipes are easy to install with minimal effort and include all necessary hardware. MagnaFlow makes all types of exhaust systems, from RAM trucks to Charger Scat Packs, to older model B and E bodies.
The MagnaFlow Axle Back will cost between $850 - $1400, which is average based on other competitors' pricing. The system offers a limited lifetime warranty on all stainless systems and provides free shipping on most components (the order has to be more than $25).
MagnaFlow has headquarters in Oceanside, Ca., and has existed since 1981. The parent company, Car Sound Exhaust, owns them.
- Good aggressive sounds
- Premium airflow
- Near perfect ratings
- Lifetime warranty
- American made
- Free shipping
- Better fuel economy
- Be sure of fitment before ordering
- The restocking fee is too high (20%)
Magnum Mopar Performance
Depending on the year, Mopar makes some quality performance exhaust systems. We particularly like this Cat-Back exhaust system that is guaranteed to fit as an OEM substitute. The system has a smaller 2.5 pipe designed to provide modest horsepower and torque gains while providing moderately enhanced exhaust sounds. This particular unit is made for 5.7L V8s, and the polished tips look superb.
If you are a purist who doesn’t necessarily want to put a non-Mopar part on your car, then these MPP systems are the route you should go. The Cat-Back will cost you between $1,200 - $1,500, depending on the fitment. And while it isn’t as in your face as other purveyors systems, it will provide you a healthy dose of power and perception without getting you in too much trouble.
Mopar’s first offering was Chrysler antifreeze (Chrysler needed a brand name for the antifreeze and chose Mopar - a combination of “motor” and “parts”). Today, Mopar is the parts and accessory arm of Stellantis (parent company to Dodge, Jeep, RAM, and the former Chrysler Corp). Mopar does offer free shipping for any order over $99 but does not offer limited warranties on any product used for racing or damage caused by installation.
- Quality OEM parts
- Good solid system
- Moderate power and torque levels
- Minimal to moderate sound increases
- No real warranty
- Shipping can take up to 7 days
TTi Performance Exhaust and Headers
One of the best exhaust system makers is TTi Performance (Tube Technologies). They design exhaust and muffler systems exclusively for Mopar vehicles, and we like them, particularly for older classic Mopar motors. This TTi Performance Exhaust system is for a 1970 - ‘74 E body, but they also make parts for A, B, and C body applications. In addition, you have a choice of H-pipe or X-pipe mid-section. The H-pipe will increase horsepower over the straight stock pipes, while the X-pipe provides both horsepower and a more aggressive sound.
A TTi system will run with or without the Dynaflow Turbo mufflers, although if you use a different company other than Dynaflow, you may have to do some modifications to ensure that it fits. This system is prebent, bolt-on, requires no welding and has all the brackets and hardware you need.
TTi offers both 2.5 and 3.0-inch pipes, so you have options. The cost will be between $750 - $1,000. The pipes are super clean and look great underneath, and have an adequate sound level.
The company operates out of Corona, Ca. All components are made in the USA. They offer free shipping for most orders and have a rewards program. For your classic car needs, Tube Technologies can more than help you out.
- Good classic Mopar purveyor
- Only make parts for Mopar
- American made
- Reasonably priced
- The website could be updated
Borla is one of the premier exhaust system companies in business since 1978, when they started making exhaust systems for Rolls Royce and Ferrari. The company used its experience to grow in size and stature to become a supplier of all makes and models of exhaust headers, pipes, and mufflers.
One of the reasons that Borla products are so good is their construction. Rather than pulling a part off a shelf that was made, who knows when, Borla units are designed on a scratch basis for each order, using every vehicle's specific acoustical and performance needs. Borla uses a unique compound with nickel to help minimize corrosion from exposure to the elements. Don’t be surprised if the Borla unit improves your fuel economy and offers increased performance and moderate to aggressive sound levels.
The downside of Borla systems is that they are often more expensive than others. A typical Borla system will run around $2,000, so you must determine if it is worth it. Borla offers Cat-Back and Axle-back systems, so you do have some options. (In addition, you need to be very clear about your expectations so the exhaust system can be made to your exact specifications).
Borla operates out of its 100-acre factory in Tennessee. The components are made at their factory and shipped directly to their customers. They offer a million-mile warranty (you read that right). Borla offers free shipping on qualifying purchases.
- Made from scratch
- American made
- Million-mile warranty
- Effective anti-corrosion compound
- It may Be Too Expensive For Some Budgets