All-American Look For Your Mid-Year Vette
Story by Jerry Heasley, Vette Magazine
Factory side pipes go on a Vette like a set of pinstripes on Mickey Mantle’s Yankee uniform. The combination just looks right and all-American.
Mike remembered side pipes on his ’67 big block coupe. Although that car is long gone, today he owns a ’66 coupe with no side pipes, officially RPO code N14, catalogued as “Side Mount Exhaust System” for 1965-66-67 Corvettes.
After the installation, Mike admitted the side pipes seemed a little louder than he recalled from the 1960s. Back then he was a foot loose teenager without a wife in the passenger seat.
Of course, a more robust exhaust is one reason for installing side pipes. His base 327 four barrel also felt a little stronger after the installation.
Of course, he got the look. Side pipes, with their aluminum covers, chambered pipes and stainless steel tips add flash and dash to any Mid-Year.
Mike ran into two surprises during the installation. Surprise #1 was he had to cut off an ear of each lower front fender. Surprise #2 was he had to bend back the steel brackets visible beneath the original side molding on each side of the car.
He also discovered the passenger side bend in the factory pipe near the header would not fit. Apparently, the pipes had suffered some damage sometime in the past. Luckily, skillful heating and bending restored them to their original shape. Possible wear and tear on OEM side pipes is why ordering a reproduction set, which saves money, might be the better alternative except for restorers after points in concours judging.
Buying a new set of side pipes from the aftermarket will assure a good fit of the pipes and the option of longer lasting stainless steel.
The installation is fairly straightforward with some important key points included in our picture set.
Our vintage (old) chambered side pipes did not fit. Apparently, the passenger side pipe had deformed, perhaps through long-term storage. Shaun Hon applied heat with a torch while Mike applied pressure with the block of wood to bend the pipe back to the stock radius. Luckily, this “Cletus” move worked.
Another “mistake” on the used side pipes was screws in place of rivets on the front bend of the side pipe shielding. Buying a set of vintage side pipes is certainly not a guarantee the components are 100% correct.
NOTE: Aside from complete Corvette exhaust packages, Corvette Central also has individual side exhaust components for those who need to replace a few mount brackets or missing bolts. These items can be found in our Corvette Parts Catalog or our C2 Corvette Exhaust section on our website.
NOTE: If you have spent time and money making your 1963-1967 Corvette’s Exhaust look and sound just right, adding our Corvette Side Exhaust Cover Protectors may not be a bad idea. They will help protect the front most edges of your Corvette’s Side Exhaust Covers from scratches and road rash that are very common on 1963-1967 Corvettes with side exhaust.