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When it comes to adding modifications to your Mustang, the exhaust is usually one of the most common areas that enthusiasts tend to focus on. After all, who doesn’t love a Mustang with the deep growl that high-performance cars are known for? Luckily, finding the best Mustang headers is easy with our Mustang header guide.
There are three different headers to choose from for your Mustang - long tube, mid-length, and shorty headers. There are turbo headers as well, but they are usually packaged up in the full turbo kits. Each of these types of headers have their own advantages and disadvantages and determining which header is best for you will be dependent on the overall goals and configuration of your Mustang. Let’s take a closer look at each type to bring you up to speed on what to expect from each.
If you're the type of person that likes to squeeze out every last horsepower from your Mustang, then you need to look at the long tube header design. The downsides to the long tube header revolve around the fact that they take up more space, meaning there's less room to work later down the road when it comes time to service your Mustang. This could make a simple starter swap a lot more compact, and it sometimes even requires that you loosen or completely remove a long tube header to service your transmission or clutch.
Luckily, the majority of long tube headers available today will fit your Mustang without any major modifications, meaning you're not going to have to beat up your frame rails or floor pan to get them to clear. Long tube headers allow the exiting exhaust poles to help pull in the incoming air fuel charge, also known as the scavenging effect. This is where the majority of their added power and torque come from.
We all know that factory manifolds are restrictive and not the best for making power. Shorty headers do remove most of the restrictions and add in larger diameter tubing. That way, you get the extra exhaust flow, which is going to give you your more power.
Shorty headers also offer a lower price point compared to long tube headers, and they're a direct replacement design, meaning they'll bolt directly to your factory cylinder head and to your existing mid pipe; you don't have to change that out. Also, another big plus is you'll have plenty of working room later, down the road, when it comes time to service your Mustang, be it a simple starter replacement or a complete clutch job.
For those wanting to go with a shorty header setup, there are going to be two basic configurations to choose from - equal and unequal. This is going to refer to the length of the pipes on the headers. Having an equal length of pipes allows the air flow to be equal when compared to the unequal length of other headers.
Equal length headers are going to be beneficial in giving you a little more power than standard unequal headers. This is due to the exhaust flow being smoother as they are traveling the same length through each pipe.
Now that you have decided what type of header you are wanting, it is time to look at the type of coating that you are going to want for your application. Most Mustang headers are available in ceramic, chrome, painted, and stainless steel. We are going to review each one to give you a better understanding of each coating.
If you are looking for the highest quality finish for your headers and have the budget to spend a little more, a set of ceramic headers should be on your list. Ceramic headers outlast chrome and high temp paint when it comes to higher temperatures. One of the biggest advantages is ceramic coated headers keep under hood temperatures to a minimum when compared to chrome or stainless headers.
If you are on more of a budget but still want to keep a nice, show-stopping appearance, a set of chrome headers are a great solution. Chrome headers, as you may have determined from their name, have a chrome coating on the headers that add a great new look to your engine while giving you a long lasting coating.
The last on our list is going to be stainless steel headers. Stainless steel headers, just like stainless steel exhaust, often outlast the car. They are going to be a little more expensive, but you are paying for a quality header that is less susceptible rust.
One of the biggest questions that we receive on headers is “what is the difference between 1 5/8" vs 1 3/4" and 1 7/8" headers?. The answer is, well, as easy as it looks, the diameter of the tubing. While most may think that bigger is better, that isn’t exactly the case with exhaust headers.
Your exhaust can make or break your performance as the velocity at which your exhaust moves out of your engine and out of your exhaust needs to be as optimized as it can be. Too much restriction can cause a loss of horsepower and torque while too big of an exhaust can cause the flow of your exhaust to become disrupted which kills performance.
For most vehicles, the 1 5/8" and 1 3/4" header size is going to be plenty to keep performance at its peak. For those who are pushing north of 800 horsepower, you may see more benefits by going with a 1 7/8" header. The extra size will help push all of that extra exhaust quicker, allowing for higher horsepower cars to breathe more freely.
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