Chevrolet Corvette Exhaust Guide: Understanding Manifolds and Headers

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The exhaust system of your Chevrolet Corvette may not seem very glamorous when compared to eye-catching interiors or high-tech body styles. However, it is an essential system for safety, performance, and, yes, even looks. Basically, the exhaust system on any vehicle has one purpose: to move potentially harmful gases away from you and your vehicle, preventing them from causing harm. To do this, the system employs one or more pipes – exhaust pipes. Exhaust pipes must be designed properly to do their job, and they must be heat resistant. The final section of the exhaust pipe is the tailpipe.

Manifolds and Headers

First, in order to vent the gases safely, they must be collected. This
is the job of the exhaust manifold. Manifolds are most often
manufactured of cast iron. They are made to collect the gases expelled
out of the cylinders and to transfer them to one pipe.

Many production manifolds are designed for reasons other than best
performance. These designs often use as little metal as possible to
save costs; or they make the manifold as small as possible to save
space in the engine compartment. For best efficiency, however, the
design should take into consideration how the engine operates.

As in every vehicle, all of the cylinders in the Corvette engine fire
at different intervals. Therefore exhaust gases leave them at various
times. The result can be that the pressure waves from the gas coming
out of one cylinder may not have completely vacated through the system
before another wave develops. This phenomenon creates restriction due
to back pressure, which in turn can lower the engine’s performance.
Enter the need for headers.

Headers are manifolds especially designed for maximum performance by
taking into account the flow of the gases above all other
considerations. A header is therefore more efficient at helping to move
the gases out of the cylinders. Constructed out of circular steel
tubing with carefully calculated folds and bends, headers attempt to
equalize the length of the path from each of the cylinders in your
Corvette’s engine. The tubes join at narrow angles, which encourage
pressure waves to flow through toward the tailpipe rather than
backwards toward the cylinders. On tuned headers, the length of the
pipes are accurately constructed to enhance the exhaust flow of a
particular engine, taking into consideration the engine’s rpm rate and
other factors.

Corvette’s Titanium Exhaust

The Z06’s titanium muffler and tailpipe assembly replaces the C5
stainless steel exhaust system. Weighing 18 pounds less, this directly
translates into better performance, including better fuel economy,
improved handling, faster acceleration, higher cornering speeds, and
shorter braking distances. Titanium offers natural resistance to
corrosion, giving the system a nearly unlimited lifespan. The metal is
non-toxic, inert, and completely recyclable. Producing the metal
produces no dangerous by-products, and therefore nothing is released
into the ground, air, or water.

GM worked with its suppliers Arvin and TIMET to develop the titanium
metal required for the Corvette. The titanium produced addressed such
issues as springback, resonance frequency, and vibration. And to
produce the Corvette’s unique exhaust resonance, Arvin came up with a
new internal muffler configuration and employed sophisticated acoustic
techniques to tune it.
The Corvette’s Z06 exhaust system is truly a combination of performance, quality, and environmental responsibility.

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