Camaros are incredibly fun to drive, but even being amazing cars with stock parts, many enthusiasts enter the world of modifying their vehicles. Aside from ECU tuning, lowering a car, and putting on racing tires, you can do many more things to improve the power output.
Some of the commonly overlooked modifications include replacing the engine headers and exhaust. Replacing the engine headers and the exhaust system needs to be done simultaneously to get the best results.
We’ll talk about exhaust headers, what headers do, and which header types are best for modifying a Camaro.
What Do Exhaust Headers Do ?
Exhaust headers are aftermarket parts that replace the exhaust manifolds. This is done to improve the exhaust gas flow by eliminating the restrictions in the exhaust manifold and using separate pipes for every cylinder. Exhaust headers on a car basically have the same goal as exhaust manifolds, but they offer better performance.
The reason why it’s important to replace the exhaust system at the same time is that stock exhaust systems restrict exhaust gas flow. On the other hand, an upgraded exhaust may provide a better sound to your car but won’t have an effect on performance because the exhaust manifold is restricting exhaust flow.
In essence, headers on a car reduce backpressure at the beginning of the exhaust system, giving the engine additional power.
Types of Headers
Although engine headers come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, these aftermarket parts can be divided into 4 specific categories which include long-tube headers, shorty headers, Lakester headers, and Tri-Y headers.
Long-tube headers are mostly used to improve low and mid-range torque. In long-tube headers, you’ll most commonly find four tubes running into one collector. These types of headers are commonly used in four-cylinder and eight-cylinder engines. Overall, these provide the best performance compared to other types of headers. The downsides to using long-tube headers on a car include the usage of more space in the engine bay as well as louder engine noise.
Shorty headers are an adequate upgrade for engines where more torque is required at higher RPMs. Compared to long-tube engine headers, shorty headers are less noisy and require less room in the engine bay. Shorty headers are designed the same as long-tube headers, however, the tubes that connect to the engine are much shorter.
Lakester headers are used in old, classic hot rods, and can’t be used in modern-day vehicles. But for a classic Camaro, they may be an option in a completely custom build. They’re sleek, relatively straight tubes, so fitment is often the issue.
Lastly, Tri-Y engine headers are a combination of long-tube headers and shorty headers. When it comes to performance upgrades, these are used when both torque and horsepower are needed. They provide the best of both worlds. Also, in most applications, they’re easy to install due to their simple design.
Aside from the design, another thing to take into consideration is the primary tube diameter, and additional modifications required to properly fit the replacement part. There are also header options that include direct fit parts, semi-universal, and universal headers.
When it comes to materials, there’s a choice between regular steel and stainless steel. The biggest difference between materials is the price. Regular steel engine headers cost significantly less than stainless steel headers but aren’t as durable. Stainless steel headers are resistant to rust and resist extreme heat conditions much better. If you know what headers do, and you plan on keeping this modification on your car for a longer period of time, going with the stainless steel option is a much better choice.
Which Headers are Best for Camaros?
It’s not an easy task to pick engine headers for a car, especially for a Camaro, which is very powerful even with stock parts. Headers on a car are known to improve the overall performance but are commonly overlooked.
To pick one particular header for your Camaro, it’s important to know your expectations, and why you’re upgrading your manifold with a header. Fitting headers on a car has its pros and cons, so before deciding on this upgrade, make sure you’re familiar with both. Aside from the pros and cons, you should consider the price as well, because these parts cost $200 and more depending on the manufacturer, tube diameter, header type, and material.
Being such a popular car, it’s no wonder why there are so many options when it comes to engine headers for Camaro. It’s an iconic model that hasn’t lost its popularity since it was first introduced to the market. This is why there are a lot of aftermarket manufacturers offering engine headers such as Hedman Husler, Schoenfield, Hedman, JEGS, Flowtech, Stainless Works, and more. These and other header manufacturers can be found in the Jegs catalog.
The best header in a Camaro is the one that fulfills all your expectations and needs. This may be more torque at a lower range, or more horsepower at a higher RPM. There are a few options that stand out.
Our first choice is the JBA 1-¾” shorty headers for the 2010-2015 Camaro SS 6.2L. This particular model is made out of mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing with a patented Firecone collector that allows maximum horsepower and torque gains. The great thing about this kit is that it includes both spark plug boots and installation hardware.
The second choice includes the BBK Performance Shorty Tuned Length Header that fits the 2010-2015 Camaro LS3/L99 V8. It’s made from 1-¾” tubing with a silver ceramic-coated finish. Fitting these engine headers provides an additional 12-18 rear-wheel horsepower. The kit includes installation hardware, and an oxygen sensor port, so it won’t create an issue with the air-to-fuel ratio.
Our third recommendation for the Camaro headers includes the JBA Long Tube Headers for the 2010-2014 Camaro SS. This particular model is made from 1-⅞” tubes and a 3” collector, all made from stainless steel. This kit includes installation hardware, gaskets, and oxygen sensor extensions for easy installation. This JBA kit is designed in a way so fitting them to lowered cars won’t cause damage while driving.