Exhaust shops boosting sound, performance for car enthusiasts
Published: Friday, June 7, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 9:21 a.m.
A man transforming his 1977 Pontiac Gran Prix into a bona fide muscle car came to Chris’ Auto & Transmission in Ocala with a succinct request.
Make it loud.
Owner Chris Davis said the man had the car for many years and decided to make a street rod out of it. So he dropped in a 455-cubic inch engine. Now he wanted a bark to match the bite.
Davis said it’s a common request among hot rod and muscle car enthusiasts, and he understands.
He, himself, owns a 1971 Plymouth Scamp with a 360 motor tricked up to more than 400 cubic inches and low restriction exhaust.
“The engine has to breathe,” he said. “The (improved flow) and dual exhaust systems provide increased fuel economy, horsepower and give the engine better low-end torque.”
And, of course, there’s that sound.
“Mustangs have a distinctive sound all their own, sort of mellow and throaty. MoPars rev quick and ‘crack’ sort of like a chain saw, while a Chevy doesn’t rev as quick but above 6,000 rpm it screams,” Davis said.
John Dunn, owner of Modern Muffler Shop, a fixture on South Pine Avenue since 1972, said the shop sees a wide array of customers coming in for upgrades from single exhaust to dual systems.
One of them is Quinty Dean, 26, who wanted custom exhaust fittings for his late model Pontiac GTX with a 5.3 liter V-8.
“I wanted a deep sound but not noisy,” Dean said as the Pontiac idled nearby.
“A lot of drivers of cars with V-8 engines, Mustangs and muscle cars want a deep rumble sound,” Robert Solway of Modern Muffler said. “Drivers of imported sports cars want a good flowing exhaust and a car that doesn’t sound like a weed wacker.
“Glasspacks (mufflers) are popular with the older car owners and mud truck drivers. We have the Flowmaster muffler which has a deep rumble and the Magnaflow which gives better performance and is quieter.”
Solway said there’s more to it than just sticking big pipes on a vehicle. In many cases, the horsepower determines the pipe.
For a 250 to 350 hp engine, a 3.5-inch pipe is recommended on single exhaust while the same diameter pipe on a dual exhaust system will handle 500 to 700 hp.
And it’s not just about the noise,
Modern Muffler Shop installer Jack Jones said he finds many truck owners also want the performance and economy gains of an upgrade to a low restriction exhaust system.
Dunn said upgrading an existing dual exhaust with Flowmaster or Magnaflow mufflers and tailpipes would typically start around $300.
Bruce Stover, who owns Pro-Formance Exhaust on NW 10th Street, says that dual exhaust installations has always been the ticket for his shop, which he bought seven years ago.
“Some people want performance with loudness,” Stover said. “Some people want performance without the sound. We see a little bit of everything.”
Stover, who also owns a tree service, prefers to keep things as simple as possible when dealing with exhaust systems.
“It’s how the car breathes,” he said. “If you throw things in (the engine, gas tank, etc. to boost performance), it’s going to get congested on the way out and clog up things like the (catalytic converters). If you leave it alone and let it breathe, it’s going to run great.”
Hot rod enthusiast Ron Leonard said it usually all comes down to what the owner is building.
Leonard, nicknamed “The Ocala Kid,” said hot rod makers normally want a sound like the hot rods of the 1950s and 1960s, while the muscle car builders were looking for “the (low restrictive) exhaust needed for a big engine.”
“I used Smithys,” a type of glasspack on my 1934 Ford hot rod. Some hot rod builders use a glasspack called a Cherry Bomb to get the sound, Leonard said.
“Some of the old hot rods with flat head engines used nothing but a straight pipe off the manifold. That will give you a lot of popping and cracking noise,” he said.
Correspondent Ted Beck contributed to this report.