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Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Exhaust Headers

Posted on February 27, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the third in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

The Pipes, the Pipes Are Calling: Exhaust Headers

As a kid, headers and cherry bombs or Thrush Mufflers were essential parts of every street rod. Other than Corvettes, sports cars of the sixties were mostly English and mostly small four or six cylinder engines with cast iron manifolds. These manifolds never wore out and they only broke if you dropped them. “Headers”, as we now know them, were initially home made from exhaust tubing. They were popular because they were lighter and allowed the engine exhaust to be taken away more quickly and easily, making the engine more efficient. When I first laid eyes on my Ferrari engine, like any old hot-rodder, I looked for places where I might make improvements easily and inexpensively. One look at the stock exhaust and I realized that the low hanging fruit had been picked at the factory. While you might improve on parts of the ignition system, and possibly the mufflers, there really was nothing hanging off the engine that could easily be improved. After all, it did put out 250 HP from about 180 cubic inches. That’s pretty efficient.

308 GTS exhaust manifold

About a year into ownership of WASRED, the exhaust manifold at the back of the engine cracked where the four individual pipes from the head meet. I was informed that this is not uncommon. Faithful John Tirrell, at IFS, ordered a new one ($750 in ’96) and took the front one off also. Scott and Bob at N.E. Industrial Coatings Inc., in Worcester MA, had once powder coated some wheels for me. They understand coatings and performance products and they had a process of Flow Coating both the interior and exterior of the headers. Described as a ceramic sealant, it strengthened the header and allowed exhaust to flow more freely. They also seem quieter. Whatever this cost, it seems like a very small investment for improved performance and durability. There was a choice of shades of grey from silver to dark and I chose a dark grey which might turn a lighter color when warm.

They have now been on the car since April of 1996 and we have never had a spot of trouble with them.

The MMR Goods and Services Directory lists 18 companies that do some form of coating or plating. Choose the one nearest you and don’t forget our motto: No One Ever Regretted Buying Quality. And don’t forget to tell them that MMR sent you.

Next week we will deal with the second half of the system, mufflers.