When in Rome, do as the Romans, but when in the Midwest, do as the tundra. As soon as the soil thaws, it's time to go racing, and Wisconsin-based photo stud, Robert McGaffin, has been doing just that with his big-block-powered '65 Olds Cutlass. Even before the snowmelt had a chance to make its way back into the Mississippi River, the Cutlass has already tackled Road America's infamous high-speed sweepers and turned dozens of autocross laps. Mac says that it almost makes up for having to battle the frostbite, hypothermia, and overall misery associated with subzero photo shoots. Almost. Obviously, Project Olds hasn't been running around with an open exhaust, and in our haste to document our on-track escapades in the magazine, we've held off on covering the exhaust buildup. So while some oiling issues in Project Olds are being addressed, now's a good time to show you how we routed the fumes from the header collectors to the tailpipes.
As is sometimes the case with engine-swap applications, it proved easier to bend up a custom exhaust than to find an out-of-the-box kit compatible with our specific engine, trans, suspension, and rearend combination. Heavy-duty driveline and suspension components tend to eat up additional real estate under the car, and Project Olds' dropped stance throws a monkey wrench into the mix as well. Fortunately, with the wide array of fab components available via mail order or from you local muffler shop, all it takes to rig up a custom exhaust is welding skill and some basic know-how. For parts, we ordered up a pair of Hooker Aero Chamber 3-inch mufflers, 10 feet of straight tubing, and some 180-degree J-bends and U-bends from Hooker. A universal Flowtech X-pipe was integrated into the final assembly as well.
Manning the bandsaw and welder was Dave Eggen of The Roadster Shop. Eggen's daily duties involve fabbing up custom hardware on ultra high-end street machines, and watching a battle-tested pro transform a pile of raw parts into a tightly fitting exhaust system was very impressive. Although Eggen has more fabrication experience under his belt than most at-home builders, anyone can emulate the tips and tricks he has to offer and piece together a custom exhaust. All it takes is willpower and practice.