Greetings to my fellow travelers. I finally got a 2009 V sedan, 6 speed manual, 8k miles and in mint condition after scheming and dreaming about this car for almost two years. After a full maintenance check, inspection, and base line dyno (501/498) I installed my Stainless Works Cat Back System on 09/03/09. I have had the system on for a while now and felt it was time to post a review. I received the boxes and inspected them for damage and saw none. After unpacking, I saw that the end of one of the pipes was deformed/flattened out of round and would have to be bent back. I also found the same type of damage/deformity to one of the mufflers. Not a good start. On closer inspection, the other muffler was dented on the body. Because of the bubble wrap and other packing materials protecting it it is my impression that it was shipped out of the factory this way. While moving one of the pipes I cut my hand on a sharp shard of metal that was left hanging and had not been cleaned off from where the pipe had been cut. After applying a tourniquet and two blood transfusions later, it was time to do the install.
First, give up any illusions of doing this job on the ground or using jack stands. You will never be able to get the leverage necessary to put this thing on. After putting the pipe ends back into round and laying out the pieces we began assembly. Note, the pieces are designated left and right with a sharpie and not a sticker or tag. This just seemed odd to me and a lower quality way of doing things that might lead to confusion at some point. After removing the factory exhaust and getting to look at it first hand, I was really surprised to see just how badly crimped and restricted it was. Right from the start, assembly of the SW system was problematic. First piece - first problem. The flange on the right connector pipe was improperly drilled and the bolt holes would not line up with the studs coming off of the catalytic converters. I checked the studs closely for signs of damage and there wasn't any. So we used a grinder on one of the flange holes until it would slide onto the studs without issue. The X-Pipe went on without to much trouble and looks like a quality piece. After putting the rear pipes into the X-Pipe it became apparent that any thoughts of hooking up the tunnel brace were going out the window. The pipes hang too low and wide to be tucked up into the space so any structural rigidity gained from the cross brace is now lost. After hooking up the mufflers the real fun began. Getting this thing to hang properly was downright impossible. The right (passenger) side is tucked in nice and neat and overall looks great. The left side however hangs way low and wants to drag the muffler inward - bad. After adjusting this thing over and over again I decided to button it up and call it a day. After all, it was Labor Day weekend and there was beer and barbecue to eat. After getting a clear bra and tint on Monday I decided to take it to a specialty exhaust shop on Tuesday and have them do whatever it took to get it to hang right. I picked it up last night and the story is this. After 2 hours of fussing, fiddling, pushing and pulling it will never hang right because "that is the way it was designed". Also, the muffler tips will never be symmetrical coming out of the rear valence because one of the tips was welded an inch further back on the pipe than the other. No way to fix this one without grinding the shit out of the pipe and re-welding. But is this something that I should have to do? I do not think so. This system hangs way too low on the left side and will pose a clearance problem for many drivers. Visually, it looks out of balance and degrades the looks of the car when viewed from behind. Also, it hangs so low that I do not know if I will be able to install the Eibach spring kit which slightly lowers the car without causing even more problems. As far as my driving impressions of this system after having it on and putting over a hundred miles on it, well here they are. First, at start up and idle this system sounds deep and throaty just like I wanted. It burbles with a sound that says I am a bad dog and when you goose the motor it roars without being raspy. Overall, my neighbors have all given me a big thumbs up on the way it sounds from the outside, deep and resonant, without being raspy or obnoxious. However, the experience from the inside is not as pleasant. Unfortunately, the drone with this system is off the chart, downright miserable and totally degrades the driving experience for both passenger and driver. Under any degree of acceleration between 1600 and 2400 RPM this thing resonates and vibrates like crazy. It is a very unpleasant experience and makes conversation or listening to the radio very difficult. Also, it "feels" bad when it drones. Kind of like when the dentist is scraping on your teeth with one of those metal picks they use. With windows up you cannot actually hear the exhaust note coming from the mufflers because of the crazy loud drone. With windows down the problem is magnified. No one who has ridden in the vehicle has commented favorably on the harmonics of this exhaust system while under acceleration from the inside. As far as any performance increase is concerned, my seat of the pants tell me yes, it has picked up a few ponies and this thing definitely roars under full throttle acceleration. I was planning to put it back on the dyno later this week in order to objectively quantify the horsepower changes made by installing the SW cat back system on an otherwise stock V for you guys. However, given the severe drone, fitment problems and quality control issues associated with this product, I really cannot recommend this system to anyone out there, and feel that another dyno run, just on this system is just more wasted time and money. I have a New Era CAI system on order and hope that maybe with better airflow to the motor this will somehow improve the internal harmonics of the SW system. But this is just a hope and not an educated guess. Overall, putting the Stainless Works cat back system on my car was a disappointing step or two backwards and I feel that this product does not do our fine cars justice. At this point I kind of wish I had bought a Borla. Regards to all, Mark (Secret Weapon)