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Camaro V8 LS3 / L99 Engine, Exhaust, and Bolt-Ons Bolt-Ons | Intakes | Exhaust

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Old 06-18-2013, 11:44 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Best Quality Long Tube Headers for the Money



Due to frequent requests from our customers, we decided to make a quick reference thread to help guide customer's on their Long Tube Header selection.

Where do I start?

Selecting the right set of long tube headers can be a daunting task with so many brand options and so many variances in price. If you stick with ARH (American Racing Headers), Stainless Works, Kooks, Borla and Stainless Power (listed from most expensive to least expensive) you simply can’t go wrong. All the above produce roughly the same gains and meet the highest criteria of the industry.


What to look for?

Stainless Steel grade, specifically 304 SS, is the most common Quality material used. Stay away from an inferior Stainless Steel such as 403 SS. Stainless Steel in the 300 series will not rust or discolor. The cheaper 403 SS will discolor easily and rust quickly in wet/humid climates. Highly recommend buying protection coating / ceramic coating if going with cheaper headers, however at that point you may as well pay the same for the quality headers. Cheaper brands tend to push coatings, but coating offer little to no reductions in under hood temperatures and do weigh slightly more. Coatings are good for protecting inferior quality steel and for aesthetic purposes. Note: If the manufacturer does not say “304 SS” it is most likely made of inferior steel.

CNC Mandrel Bent pipes should be a minimum when considering what headers or exhaust to purchase. This process allows the best unrestricted airflow, superior fitment and allows for thinner tubes for weight saving benefits. Mandrel Bent is quickly becoming a standard in the industry for most headers, however if they do not advertise Mandrel Bent that is a red flag.

Last but not least, country of origin. More attention to detail is paid by the manufacturers in the USA. American Racing Headers for example is hand ported and has a scavenger spike where the primaries merge. Cleaner craftsmanship such as clean tig welds. If you are looking for the greatest performance, a quality header like American Racing Headers or Stainless Works are solid options. If you are looking for the biggest bang for the buck, Stainless Power will get the job done.


What Primary Diameter Should I Choose?

The Header Primaries are available from most manufacturers in three sizes listed below. The 1-3/4’’ headers are too restrictive for the 6.2L. The most common size is 1-7/8’’ headers since they are sufficiently free flowing. We however recommend 2’’ headers for the 6.2L as they offer the same benefits of the 1-7/8’’ but are typically only $45 more and offer greatest potential by complimenting additional mods very well. Obviously stock dynos do vary, but below are some typical gains compared to stock.

Bone Stock LS3: 380 RWHP 385 RWTQ
1 3/4’’ Headers with high flow cats: 410 RWHP 415 RWTQ
1 7/8’’ Headers with high flow cats: 420 RWHP 420 RWTQ
2’’ Headers with high flow cats: 425 RWHP 420 RWTQ (Auto Agenda Recommended)


High Flow Cats or No Cats?

Once you have settled on the brand of headers and the size of Primaries, the next task is to decide on the Mid-Pipes with High Flow Cats or Mid-Pipes with no cats (Off Road Pipes). High Flow Cats are not like the Cats of our father’s generation, they are extremely free flowing and flow nearly identical to a straight pipe. The performance hindrance is only 1-2 rwhp at mid range RPM levels, if that. Frankly the two biggest drawbacks from choosing no cats are the strong exhaust fume smell and the hassle of trying to pass emissions testing and inspection. The only time we may recommend going without Cats is for a car used primarily on the track.


Which Mid-Pipes?

Now that you have decided on Mid-Pipes with or without Cats, you will need to decide if you you want Connection Pipes (connects to your factory or aftermarket Cat-Back) or X-Pipe (connects to your factory or aftermarket Axle-Back) The shorter Connection Pipes will be cheaper, but the greatest performance will be seen with the X-Pipe and preferably to the tips. Note: Some form of Connection Pipes are essential to install.

Click here to send us a private message with any questions!

Last edited by AutoAgenda; 06-19-2013 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:34 AM   #2
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Best LT's for the Money: ARH 1-7/8 w/ Cats.

The 2's are more for higher HP applications (SC, T/TT, etc).

Edit: I like your guide/article though! Chalked full of facts that can't be argued with.
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:37 AM   #3
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:38 AM   #4
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Sooooo I am going to go against all that spend the $$ blah blah blah. I paid under $400 for my headers and connection pipes. Clear image headers in 304 stainless steel. I made 366/388 with headers, cai, and tune.
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocx View Post
Best LT's for the Money: ARH 1-7/8 w/ Cats.

The 2's are more for higher HP applications (SC, T/TT, etc).

Edit: I like your guide/article though! Chalked full of facts that can't be argued with.
Can't argue with 1-7/8'' ARH Headers We have found it to be a common misconception that 2'' is too large. Absolutely no downside to going with 2'' Primaries. If your going with an Intake and Tune, 1-7/8'' is plenty. However if you want to continue on and to a Cam or SS we highly recommend the 2'' especially since 2'' Primaries in most cases are only an extra $45.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:48 AM   #6
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IMO best bang for the buck for the 5th Gen camaro is the TSP headers.

I'm running 1 3/4" headers on my ls3 and they do just fine.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:51 AM   #7
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IMO kooks 1 7/8 with hi flo cats coated and shipped 1300$
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:14 AM   #8
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http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=300251
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:37 AM   #9
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IMO Stainless Power
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:03 AM   #10
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Did I over pay for ARH?

Very debatable....but what does Chevrolet run on the COPO? Oh ya...ARH!
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:07 AM   #11
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Did I over pay for ARH?

Very debatable....but what does Chevrolet run on the COPO? Oh ya...ARH!
guessing I did too
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidcroft View Post
Did I over pay for ARH?

Very debatable....but what does Chevrolet run on the COPO? Oh ya...ARH!
+1, If you have the means, we highly recommend it.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidcroft View Post
Did I over pay for ARH?

Very debatable....but what does Chevrolet run on the COPO? Oh ya...ARH!
Overpaying is a question of funds, NOT if said product is the best. GM put Pirelli's, flimsy control arms, extremely soft bushings, and extremely soft paint/clearcoat. Does that mean they are the best? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

ARH headers are fantastic headers but they are at the very highend of pricing, just like Kooks, and Dynatech.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Overpaying is a question of funds, NOT if said product is the best. GM put Pirelli's, flimsy control arms, extremely soft bushings, and extremely soft paint/clearcoat. Does that mean they are the best? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

ARH headers are fantastic headers but they are at the very highend of pricing, just like Kooks, and Dynatech.
Valid point, but that just speaks more to the point of why GM went with ARH instead of designing their own.

After GM's research and development, the ARH headers would likely be half the price of their own in-house headers with similar performance.
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:39 PM   #15
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Valid point, but that just speaks more to the point of why GM went with ARH instead of designing their own.

After GM's research and development, the ARH headers would likely be half the price of their own in-house headers with similar performance.
I'm sure ARH gave them one helluva deal on them as well.
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:06 PM   #16
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I'm sure ARH gave them one helluva deal on them as well.
Agreed. Copo is limited production but bragging rights are not.
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:08 PM   #17
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I'm sure ARH gave them one helluva deal on them as well.
I doubt they cared with the low production numbers of the COPO.
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:52 PM   #18
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If I were buying new I would probably buy the 1 7/8" but I got a hell of a deal on 1 3/4" that I couldn't pass up.

With that being said, don't discount 1 3/4" so much. Did I make less HP than the average 1 7/8"....yes by maybe 3 rwhp. Now, I still have plenty of torque and when it comes race track where it really counts I've beaten plenty of Camaros with 1 7/8" and even one that had a supercharger and a couple that had good sized cams plus all the bolt-ons. Most of these guys fail to do the more critical suspension stuff that helps put the power to the ground and/or they have so much HP that street tires kill them. Either way when it can time to put up or shut up it was my car that took the win light.

Again, if I were buying new I would go 1 7/8". Why not...for the extra $100 or so plus the ability to go with more power adders it only makes sense but the difference is so minimal that I even turned down a set of ARH 1 7/8" headers. It wasn't worth my time and effort to switch them for a few HP. Instead I sold them and took the profit to put towards my gears.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:43 PM   #19
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We knew a similar write-up would bother some, but we simply can't change many facts. We do however have a few differences. We highly recommend the 2'' primaries as there is no downside, especially when modding beyond a CAI and Tune. We are open to debate, but our dyno results consistently show 2'' having a slight but solid performance advantage. (Dollar per HP, picking up the last 5 hp for $45 is very beneficial, especially if adding additional mods, that 5 hp quickly turns to 15)

Everyday we have a customer ask about what LT Headers to go with, so we had to make a thread. As a company, we can't point customers to another company's thread. We had to make a logical step by step thread to help answer customer questions and unfortunately that type of information will overlap in some areas, however we do fundamentally disagree with recommending 1-7/8'' headers to everyone as the standard best choice.

Just as if we make a general intake thread, you better bet we will highlight and recommend Cold Air Inductions, Roto-Fab, New Era, etc. 95% of the content are undisputed facts.
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Old 06-19-2013, 09:58 PM   #20
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juice2SS View Post
Sooooo I am going to go against all that spend the $$ blah blah blah. I paid under $400 for my headers and connection pipes. Clear image headers in 304 stainless steel. I made 366/388 with headers, cai, and tune.
Just installed a set of Clear Image headers the other day. I bought them and had them JetHot coated for still hundreds less than most headers that are offered. Sorry but its completely ridiculous to spend more than $1k on a set of headers
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:50 PM   #22
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Just installed a set of Clear Image headers the other day. I bought them and had them JetHot coated for still hundreds less than most headers that are offered. Sorry but its completely ridiculous to spend more than $1k on a set of headers
Clear Image only makes bolt-on 1-3/4'' correct? Stainless Power is another option which is about half the price of ARH.
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Old 06-19-2013, 11:46 PM   #23
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We highly recommend the 2'' primaries as there is no downside, especially when modding beyond a CAI and Tune. We are open to debate, but our dyno results consistently show 2'' having a slight but solid performance advantage. (Dollar per HP, picking up the last 5 hp for $45 is very beneficial, especially if adding additional mods, that 5 hp quickly turns to 15) .
There is a possible downside, the fitment. There isn't much room on the driverside around the steering column. There are people that have fitment issues with the 1 7/8 headers as well. 2in would hit even more people. It has been noted that some engines have been known to sit one way or the other a few mm, which could be one of the culprits. Not everyone has the ability to lift their engine and move it over the few mm necessary to gain the room.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:02 AM   #24
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Clear Image only makes bolt-on 1-3/4'' correct? Stainless Power is another option which is about half the price of ARH.
Ya that's right 1 3/4" primaries. But still about half the price of Stainless Power. So unless the 1/8" difference in primary diameter is that important I don't see a point in spending double your money.

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Old 06-20-2013, 04:43 AM   #25
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Jba only made(don't anymore) 1 3/4" for the g8 which was fine to me.
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