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Answering the question nobody asked: Can Camaro shorty headers be used on a V?

9555 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  AAIIIC
A few months ago I updated my oil cooler setup, and I mentioned in the oil cooler sticky thread that in order to do so I had gone with shorty headers for a Camaro/G8. I've been meaning to document that here and just haven't gotten around to it. Finally, it is time.

As I said in the oil cooler thread, I wanted to change up my oil cooler setup so that I could put the oil filter back in the stock location and use one of the LS-specific take-off adapters that a few companies offer. With the Kooks headers, there just wasn't enough room to make it happen. I looked at a variety of hose routing options, I tried to visualize some way to modify the Kooks headers to make more room, but I just couldn't come up with an answer that made me happy. In light of how much I ended up investing in this project, perhaps I could've paid someone to modify the driver side Kooks header (or even make a new header), but... I didn't.

So, I figured I would look at other header options. My stock headers/cats were long gone, so I picked up a used set to eyeball. I briefly thought about getting the stock manifolds Extrude Honed, but they're just such a compromised design that I figured that would be a waste (and isn't even all that cheap). I was pretty sure that any long tube headers for another car would be a no-go, as LTs are typically a pretty tight fit even on the car they're supposed to be on, so fitting Camaro/G8 (or GTO or Vette or truck or whatever) LT headers would require them to be extensively modified. So, that brought me to shorties. I still have a Fox-body Mustang, which was the first car I modded - it had shorty headers on it for years, and I would say shorties are still very common in that community. Based on that experience from the Mustang world, I've always been kind of surprised that nobody made shorties for the V. However, there are shorties for the Camaro/G8. I did some looking at the options on Summit and ordered a set of JBA shorty headers. Here they are compared to the stock headers:

As you can see, the fitment lines up reasonably well. What you can't see in that 2D picture, though, is that the JBAs extended away from the head quite a bit further. Of course, there was only one way to determine whether they would actually fit on the car, so I put the car up on jack stands in the garage and went to work pulling the Kooks headers out. I was worried about how much further back the collector of the passenger side JBA header was compared to the stock routing - I was afraid it might be too close to the firewall - so I did that side first. Turned out the passenger side wasn't an issue at all.

From below:

From above:

It turned out it was the driver side that was an issue, for two different reasons. First, the steering shaft was in the way - the collector flange on the JBA header and the steering shaft wanted to be in the same place. Second, the way that the rear-most primary is routed meant that the wiring harnesses on the inside of the strut tower were in the way.

From above (with the harness unplugged and pulled out of the way):

From below (with the steering shaft unbolted and just resting there):

The two fitment issues on the driver side would be resolved if the header didn't stick out quite so far from the head, so I got to wondering if there might be a different brand of headers that would either be configured to fit a bit tighter. I ordered the Borla shorties and Pacesetter shorties from Summit to compare. (Other than being out the cost of shipping, I could return all this stuff and get a full refund, so it was no big deal.)

The Pacesetters were pretty terrible - the collector was only 1-3/4"!! That's worse than even the stock header. Here's a shot comparing the Pacesetter and JBA collectors:

The Borlas fit a bit better, but the primary tubing diameter was smaller. It was kind of weird - they flared out to 1-3/4" at the flange, but then immediately necked down to 1-5/8" or so. I didn't get a good picture of one of them off the car, but in this test-fit picture you can see the bulge on each of the primaries just before they're cut off by the valve cover being in the way of the shot:

There was nothing to be gained with either of those sets, so I returned them and stuck with the JBAs. I also went ahead and ordered the JBA cat pipes to go along with the headers. I debated that a bit - will it be cheaper to buy the cat pipes and then have them modified to fit my car, or should I just order some cats and then pay the shop to make me some cat pipes? The cat pipes fit the car pretty well, with the exception of them being angled out a little too much, so they weren't pointing at the two humps in the trans mount crossmember:

If they hadn't been even close to fitting, I would have just returned them to Summit, but since it was clear they would fit with just a minor rotation of the flange, I kept them. The cats even lined up perfectly with the angled section of the floorboard, so there wouldn't be any need to worry about them hanging low.

Now that I knew the Camaro headers would fit with some minor modifications, it was just a matter of finding some place to do said minor modifications. I didn't want to just take it to Midas. :bigroll: Here's where the magic of the internet comes into play - I ended up taking my Cadillac to an Audi/VW shop based on the recommendation of a couple folks on the local sub-forum of NASIOC (Subaru site). :cool:

Speaking of Subarus, while I was in the midst of all this test fitting of header parts on the V, one day while driving my Legacy home from work in a torrential downpour I managed to hydrolock the engine trying to ford a section of flooded road. Doh! It took almost 3 frickin' hours to get the Subaru towed home :mad:, after which I quickly ate dinner, then went into the garage to put the V's exhaust back together so I would have a car to drive in the morning!

Now, the V was back on the road, the Subaru was taking the 1 useable garage stall (as I started on an engine swap), and it was time to figure out what exactly I wanted the V's exhaust to look like. I had a Magnaflow cat-back on the car along with the Kooks headers, but a while back I had picked up a used Corsa setup. The Magnaflow system had developed a crack, and the piping looked kinda crappy (they use a "lesser" grade of stainless than Borla and Corsa do), so I kind of wanted to use the Corsa setup. At the same time, I thought I wanted to keep the Magnaflow X rather than the Corsa H, and I wanted the ability to possibly still use the Magnaflow mufflers. I decided that for future maintainability of the car, it would be good to have the new header/cat setup bolt right up to a stock (or stock replacement) exhaust. That meant the Corsa setup had to go onto the car, because the Magnaflow setup was no longer "stock" - it had been modified to mate up to the Kooks headers and cats. So, off came the Magnaflow exhaust, which I then broke down into all the individual parts. (That took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, as the clamped together joints did not want to come apart after a few years of being installed!) Out came the Kooks headers and cats (again). On went the stock headers and cats and the full Corsa setup. Of course, I was doing all of this in the driveway, and it started raining with about an hour's worth of work still to go :rolleyes:, but I got it done. The JBA headers and cat pipes and Magnaflow mufflers went into the trunk, and I took the car to the VW/Audi shop for the exhaust work.

I had the shop:
(1) Remove the stock headers and cats.
(2) Install the JBA headers. Modify the driver side header to clear the steering shaft.
(3) Cut the downstream flange off the stock cats. Install the JBA cat pipes, welding those stock flanges onto the JBA pipes so everything would mate up to the "stock" Corsa cat-back.
(4) Modify the Corsa cat-back and the Magnaflow mufflers so that I could swap out the mufflers and decide which I preferred.

Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures of the final product. I had the car up on a lift to change the trans fluid a couple weekends ago, but didn't think to bring my camera with me to get pics of it all. On both sides he used a V-band to join the header and cat (replacing the original 2-bolt flanges) - that allowed the cat pipes to be rotated into the proper position, and took care of the clearance issue on the driver side. The JBA cat pipes were cut off probably 6" or so and the stock flanges were welded on. The only shot I have is this one, which really was taken to show the new oil cooler take-off adapter and hose routing, but you can see the V-band and how the steering shaft clears the header. (The 2D photo is a little deceptive - it's not as tight as the picture makes it seem.)

So there you go. Yes, you can put Camaro/G8 shorty headers on your V1, but only if you're willing to accept the fact that it takes more effort and more $$$ than just using long tubes that are designed to fit your car. For me, it was worth the time and effort to allow me to redo my oil cooler setup the way I wanted it.
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Nice work!

Other than gaining the clearance you needed, would there be any other reason to run the shorties?
If they were made to fit the car, like with the Camaro and G8, then the shorties would probably be cheaper than LTs. That advantage goes away due to the need to modify them in this case to fit our setup.

I'm pretty sure I've seen shorty vs LT comparison tests in magazines and online that show shorties can actually be a bit better for top end power, but typically that's at the expense of a broader torque curve.

Awesome! Did you ever look into other models or just the Camaro/G8? Would the GTO shorties come close to fitting?

What do you think about these?
Looking on Summit, it looks like the GTO headers are quite a bit different - the collector seems to sit farther forward, so I don't know how well they would work. Those Ebay ones are only 1-5/8" primaries - I wanted to stick with 1-3/4".

Going one step looks as if the new Z/28 (LS7) OE shorty style headers may also work:

Wow, those are pretty nice looking. GM Parts Direct won't search for 2014 parts yet, but I'm curious what those will go for once part numbers are available.
Interesting, the B&Bs definitely give more room there than the Kooks do.
Over a year later, I finally remembered to get some installed pics. I was wrong in my initial post, and never corrected it - the shop only put a V-band on the driver side, since that side had to be modified more to clear the steering shaft. On the passenger side there's still a 2-bolt flange between the header and the cat pipe. (Hindsight being 20/20, I probably should've had him put a V-band there, too, as 2-bolt flanges are crap!)

Here are a couple shots of the cat pipes:

And a shot of the reason I did all of this:

Clearance galore! :D

I still need to pull the headers and cat pipes off at some point to send them off for ceramic coating. The V has been my daily driver ever since the Subaru died (as mentioned in the initial post), so I just haven't had the opportunity to get that done. Yesterday I swapped out the catalytic converter seals (the downstream donut gaskets between the cat pipes and the cat-back exhaust). As recommended by a couple folks on LS1tech, I picked up new seals from Trubendz - they provide these seals with their replacement cat pipes, but they'll also sell them separately. They're $15 each, which is much better than the OEM ones ($28 list, about $22 thru Ebay), and they fit perfectly.

Old OEM on the left, new Trubendz on the right (courtesy of isis over on LS1tech):

My old, horribly eroded seals. (The orange residue is some Ultra Copper that I put on the one last week when I initially discovered they were in need of replacement):

And the shiny Trubendz ones installed:

If you need to replace those seals, I would say the Trubendz parts are a great option.
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Fast forward a few years... When I installed the headers initially, I didn't have time to get them coated. Although they're stainless, so they should be fine, I think things look cleaner when they're coated, and theoretically it keeps some heat out of the engine bay. (Can't say I've ever measured to see if that's true.)

So, my car has been out of action for a few months, and a couple weeks back I decided to pull the headers and cat pipes off to get them coated locally. I haven't had them off since they were installed, so I never got any pics of the headers to show the modification to the driver side header.

(That's after they were media blasted by the coating shop. When they came off the car they looked quite a bit dirtier.) If you compare back to the pics at the start of this thread...

... you can see how the driver side header has been extended (to clear the steering shaft) and the V-band flange added. In hindsight, I wish I had had them do a V-band on the passenger header, too, as that 2-bolt flange between the header and cat pipe has been a recurring issue.

Speaking of the cat pipes, while I had things apart, and before I got the cat pipes coated, I wanted to get the old, rusty studs out of them:

It took some work with angle grinder, MAP torch, drill and tap, but I got them all out and replaced with new stainless hardware from McMaster-Carr:

Oh, spoiler, that's what the cat pipes look like when they're coated with satin silver Cerakote. Here's another shot, before the stainless hardware was installed:

The longer one with flanges on both ends is the passenger side.

Unfortunately, the headers weren't that easy. The coating shop called and said when they media blasted the headers they found some cracking. Both headers had some cracking around the welds where the primary tubes come into the merges. The passenger side was worse - I could look up through the collector and clearly see daylight. It looked to me like JBA's welding just hadn't gotten much of any penetration into that primary tube. On the driver side I couldn't tell if the crack actually went all the way through, or if it was just the weld bead pulling away from the tubing a bit creating a crevice.

So, I had to go back to the coating shop, pick up the headers, bring them to a nearby exhaust shop (like, less than 1/4mi away), get them to throw some weld beads on there, then bring them back to the coating place. [I realize it's not the coating shop's job to take care of that sort of thing, but I was a bit surprised and annoyed that they weren't willing to coordinate the quick repairs. Instead, I burned 90min of my work day (because of course they're not open on the weekend) to get it resolved.]

Weld repairs:

Not particularly pretty, but I don't care about that, they'll look fine once they're coated. I should be able to pick them up Monday or Tuesday.
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