Unwilling to sacrifice power for space saving off the shelf headers, we contacted Dan Lemons of Lemons Headers to craft a set of custom made headers for the beast.
The car was hauled up to the Lemons' facility where the master craftsman fabricated a hand built set of racing headers.
In return, Lemons
used the freshly built headers as a template for customers with the same engine/chassis combination desiring racing headers.
doesn't keep any headers in stock - each set is made to order, many from templates like this one.
About Lemons Headers
started out by building headers for a major header manufacturer in the late 60's and early 70's before seeking his
fame and fortune as a cabinet maker in Paso Robles, Califonia.
It wasn't long before the local guys that knew of Lemons previous header work drew the cabinet maker back into making headers.
Once the passion for making custom headers was rekindled, Lemons
began making headers for anyone wanting a custom set.
One of his
early customers, a Georgian that was very pleased and excited about Dan's work, convinced Lemons that he
could do this full time.
With no business plan, boardroom or list of company officers, Lemons set off to make custom headers under the name Lemons Headers
"We started by building drag race headers where there were two big demands, spark plug room and ground clearance," said Lemons
This is not an easy task," says Lemons
For our project car, Lemons
opted to use 18 gauge mild steel stepped from 2 diameter out of the block to 2 1/8 at the slip on collector.
According to Lemons
, "For the weight of the car, stall speed of the convertor, horsepower and cubic inch size of the motor, this design will put the torque and power bands where you want them.
Our collectors are fitted with Lemon's transition cone that helps with the scavenging of exhaust gases from the cylinders.
Lemons says, "this is our typical race collector."
has a couple of principles that he
tries to keep in his
header design; large radius bends and keeping the primary tubes as close to the same length as possible.
says these principles help keep the headers flowing freely.
Another goal that Lemons
always stays true to is building each header by hand so that he
is free to bend the tubes in order to fit into the chassis and over the frame.
Even hand building each header does not mean that it is an easy project.
According to Lemons
, "The most problematic ones would be the late model Camaro.
Everything is very restrictive, especially on the passenger side.
The limited space on the late model F-body chassis is more of challenge and with our specific engine combination, Lemons
required us to bring the car in for a custom fitting.
For the most part, Lemons
can make a header system for just about any car; "Ninty-nine percent of the time everything is trouble free and works like it is supposed to."
From start to finish, it takes Dan
crew about two days to complete a set of custom headers.
Understanding racers, Lemons
is even willing to work on weekends if you need your headers quicker than normal.
There is an extra charge for a rush job, but Lemons tries to make sure that his
customers are taken care of.
To take away some of the fear, Lemons
offered this advice, "If you have a stock or mild engine and chassis build, an off-the-shelf header is probably the right way to go.
explained, "In a perfect free flowing exhaust world, there would only be one bend in the exhaust system.
Flow would go straight out from the engine and then directed 90 degrees to the back of the car.
Engine bay and chassis design makes that an impossibility in just about every case.
compromises by "trying to keep our designs as free-flowing as possible by using as large a radius in the bends as possible while keeping the primary tube square to the exhaust port without back-cutting the bend at the flange."
Even with a tried and true product, Lemons
is always looking to improve.
"We put a lot of effort into improving and redesigning our headers.
If we feel we can pick up a little more ground clearance, increase space around the starter and oil pan, or improve access to the spark plugs, then we'll redesign a header."
The primary tube length can have a big effect on power curve, but when limited space does not permit longer primaries, Lemons uses different diameters of tubing to compensate for length.
"The ability to use different tube sizes allows much greater flexibility in designing a header.
Smaller diameter tubes act like longer tubes and bigger diameter tubes act like shorter tubes," said Lemons
As far as stepped headers, Lemons
says that a stepped header scavenges better than a straight-tube header and broadens the torque curve.
Getting more exhaust gasses out of the combustion chamber means you can put more ignitable fuel in.
And we all know what that means: More power!
takes several other factors into consideration when building a custom set of headers, "Cubic inches of your engine, your compression ratio, how much horsepower you intend to make, the size and weight of the car and tire size, should also be considered," adds Lemons.
Other information about the vehicle can play into designing a great set of custom headers.
If you plan on running mufflers, X-pipes or H-pipes, exhaust flow is affected.
According to Lemons
, "If a car utilizes a full exhaust system, we may lean toward a larger tube or collector size because of the added back pressure.
Even the type of torque converter can have a dramatic effect on the header design.
A higher stall converter requires more power to spin up while "converters with lower stall speeds will require more torque and smaller tubes.
Nitrous and blower motors tend to like bigger tube sizes," advised Lemons
"The combination of heavy-duty header flanges and flat copper gaskets that don't expand and contract like thin flanges and fiber gaskets, virtually eliminates the potential for bolts to loosen over time," states Lemons
"We build headers in mild steel and stainless steel with the most significant difference between the two is that stainless costs about twice as much," Lemons
"Stainless is a stronger material and won't rust, but it discolors and weighs more.
Mild-steel headers that are well-coated inside and out make a lot of sense, because they're cheaper, lighter, and very durable.
Regardless of the type of material selected, Lemons
says they use 3/8 thick header and collector flanges with 18 gauge tubing and 16 gauge collectors that are all TIG welded.
While designing a set of headers that is simple to install is important, "we won't sacrifice performance or fitment to make a header easier to install," Lemons
As the master header builder explained earlier, getting a good fit with good spark plug access and plenty of ground clearance with room around the oil pan and starter is most important.
With the options of individual tubes and slip on collectors, even the most complicated set of headers can be installed relatively easily.
"Many of these headers can be installed in 15 minutes with the engine and starter in place," says Lemons
Header Installation Tips From Dan Lemons:
Header flange gaskets: With all Lemons headers
, Lemons recommends using a flat gasket, either a fiber type or an annealed copper gasket.