Installing a Side Pipe Exhaust System on a C2 Vette

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.


Mike’s ’66 came with the standard rocker panels. Chevrolet produced over 70,000 Corvettes for 1965-66-67, and 11% left the factory with their “Side Exhaust Package.”

Removing the rocker panels is easy. Simply pull the screws that hold the rocker panel to the body.

Corvettes with original side pipes do not have these steel brackets.

Mike mocked up the side pipe aluminum covers to reveal this lower front fender “ear” interferes with installation.

With a Sharpie and a ruler inscribe a straight line to cut off the lower front fender ear.

Saw off the fiberglass ears, one per side, along the straight line made by the Sharpie.

Cars that did not come with factory side pipes have a rear valance with outlets for exhaust tips. Remove the exhaust tips in the rear valance.

Remove the rear valance bolts.

Remove the rear valance. The valance for Corvettes with side pipes has no holes for exhaust outlets.

Remove the exhaust pipes. The pipe’s on Mike’s ’66 needed a little heat to swell the outside metal and separate.

Mike used a wooden 2 x 4 and a rubber mallet to knock loose the rear exhaust pipes.

Remove the header pipes, one per side.

Side brackets interfere with the chambered side pipes.

Mike hammered the metal brackets toward the body using a block of wood.

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.

Remove this metal splash shield from inside the fender well.

Install this fastener (also called a Tinnerman nut or speed nut) on the metal splash shield. Tightening the fastener draws two prongs together to act as a lock nut.

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.

Mike took out the incorrect screws and installed rivets in his side pipes. New side pipes from vendors will already have rivets for the attaching bracket.

The top bolt of the brackets on the front of each side pipe cover goes through the body and into the Tinnerman nut in the metal splash shield. Tightening the top nut requires no backup.

The rest of the installation is a piece of cake. Install the black molding unique to the side pipes.

Completed, the side pipes add classic looks and a thunderous exhaust rumble to a 1965, 1966 or 1967 Corvette.

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.

16 thoughts to “Installing a Side Pipe Exhaust System on a C2 Vette”

  1. I want to install side pipes on a 64. I understand that I will need to trim the lower front and rear fender well? I watched the video on the 67 installation and saw how you trimmed the front the 64 the same and what other hurdles will I have?

  2. Is there a product to reduce the amount of heat generated by the side pipes on the Door Sill area that transfers to the inside of the coupe?

    1. Unfortunately, there is no product specifically for this on the Mid-years. In 1969 they started using a side exhaust shield insulator with aluminum skin, Located between the frame and body reinforcement channel (323104).

  3. I live in Aruba & intend to install side exhaust system on my 1963 Corvette using fiberglass covers, Headers, 2 x glass pack exhaust mufflers welded inline on each side and connecting headers and mufflers with flexible pipes. I have several questions. #1: will 3″ mufflers fit into the covers? #2: will these two mufflers lower the noise? #3: will exhaust wrapping around mufflers dampen the noise? #4: will cabin heat be lowered? #5: will this setup hamper performance greatly? Hope you can help me out and thank you in advance.

  4. My reproduction rocker molding trim (black & alum.) does not sit down firmly on the bottom edge. There is a very slight gap between the bottom of this molding, and the heat shield. Looks okay from normal viewing positions. Also, the screws provided are not long enough to go through the two layers of fiberglass AND the little square nut.

    1. If you’re still experiencing issues you can give us a call at (800) 345-4122 and we can try our best to walk you through bolting the back of the side pipes up.

  5. I have a 66 coupe that had side exhaust when I bought it in 94. It took only a few road trips for me to decide I did not like the exhaust note in my left ear. I tried several things to quieten it down. Nothing worked. So, off came the side exhaust and on went a rear system. AH! Now I can hear again. But, the fenders had been cut and the brackets were not there. No easy way to install rocker moldings. I have driven that car for 20 years with the aluminum covers and no one yet has noticed it has a set of rear exhaust on it. So, I get the looks and don’t have to suffer the noise. The side exhaust lights up every squeak and rattle in a coupe. Not so bad on a Roadster. I have all the parts and these are factory pieces. I have two sets of side pipes. One is a 2 inch system which is correct for the 66 and the other is a 2 1/2 inch system with a section added at the exhaust manifold to narrow down to a 2 inch. This is the system that came on the car. I bought the 2 inch pipes in hopes of quieting it down. Didn’t work.

  6. I appreciate the Tech help. My 2 questions involve the side exhaust installation. #1) The step where the “ear” is cut off to fit the pipe. A fellow Corvette Club friend of mine, who knows more than I do about Mid year Corvettes says I don’t have to cut the “ear” off to install the pipes. Is this true? I don’t see how it will fit. I also believe it will not look right. Your opinion? The Corvette I will be working on is a 67 Coupe that came with standard rear exhaust. Question #2) Does any company make anything to fill the rear valance holes, rather than replacing the whole valance? A good product would be something like a color matched plastic exhaust hole filler. It would not look like it was a factory side exhaust car, but it would look ok and save the money spent on a new valance and the cost of painting it. Thanks.

  7. Do you have a complete side exhaust kit that includes headers that replace the stock manifolds? Would like this kit for a 1965 327 coup w/AC.

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