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1971 Chevy Suburban- Project Rebirth‘71 Suburban, Part 5: Heard but Not Seen

Hedman Performance Group, Lowboy Motorsports and Michael’s Truck Works Take Our Exhaust to New Heights

Bryan Fross
Aug 21, 2019
Our project 1971 Chevy Suburban is well on its way to becoming a reliable and well performing driver. It now has a much smoother ride with its QA1 Suspension. It is capable of stopping on a dime with the new Baer Brakes installed. Some safety and inconvenience issues were taken care of with a Flaming River steering column from United Pacific Industries as well as Dakota Digital gauges from Summit Racing Equipment. On top of those additions, the upgrade from 15-inch rollers to 22-inch Intro Wheels with Nexen Tires has really changed the overall look of the cool cruiser.
There was just one more project to undertake before packing up to head home after our busy week in Arizona. With the '71 sitting low to the ground and the ability to adjust the coilovers even lower in the future, our Suburban exhaust was hanging too low, which looks awful while also dragging when entering or exiting steep driveways.
We turned to the pros at Hedman Performance Group to get a set of their Hedders in a mid-length configuration. Our exhaust problem wasn't just where the pipes were routed but rather an issue that began with the long-tube headers attached to the engine block. They previously served their purpose but were just too long on the bottom end to tuck the exhaust up and out of sight. Lowboy Motorsports teamed up with Michael's Truck Works for a one-two punch in getting the exhaust system tucked up from the engine all the way back to the new exit points we chose. Follow along while we show you how they tucked, cleaned up, and ultimately made our '71 'Burban look and sound much better than ever before.
Photo 2/34   |   Before we started this project, our rendering by KP Concepts showed the end goal. With many of the initial plans already completed, it was time to wrap up this first round of major changes.
Photo 3/34   |   After
Photo 4/34   |   Before - In this close-up shot, you can see our exhaust issue hanging down way below the body of the '71 'Burban.
Photo 5/34   |   The new Hedman Hedders are pictured here with their Black Maxx Ceramic Coating. The pro-touring-style product will give our project a much higher starting point for the exhaust pipes and mufflers to run towards the rear of the SUV.
Photo 6/34   |   Before we can rebuild the pipes for our project, we had to tear out this old, unsupported setup, which had seen a few drags on driveways in its time.
Photo 7/34   |   With the old and new headers side by side, the difference in length is easily noticeable. This stark change in height will allow the piping to run through a path that GM never provided, but Lowboy Motorsports is about to create it.
Photo 8/34   |   Starting at the top, the new Hedman Hedders were bolted in with the gaskets provided.
Photo 9/34   |   As a beginning point for the pipes, the three-bolt exhaust adapters are loosely bolted in to the headers.
Photo 10/34   |   Todd at Lowboy Motorsports marks an open spot on the crossmember on both sides where the new exhaust can run through well above its previous height.
Photo 11/34   |   A plasma cutter makes quick work of the crossmember to ready it for the next step.
Photo 12/34   |   A small section of 3-inch, .120-inch wall DOM tubing is fit into the open hole that was just cut out.
Photo 13/34   |   When it is centered in the crossmember, the tubing is welded in. This piece will protect the exhaust pipes from rubbing the newly cut opening while allowing some minor movement that will naturally occur.
Photo 14/34   |   The bare metal was covered in paint to protect from rust and as you can see here, there's another issue to handle before the pipes can be routed. The fuel line loops are unnecessary and in the way, so they will be cleaned up.
Photo 15/34   |   Todd removes the hose loops and begins to cut the bends out of the hard lines making it a straight line along the frame.
Photo 16/34   |   Here you can see the change from the factory bends sticking out on the right to the newly cut lines on the left. When the bends are all cut out, the connecting hoses are shortened and reattached.
Photo 17/34   |   Next, we move the '71 over to Michael's Truck Works where they immediately begin figuring out the best way to setup the rest of our exhaust.
Photo 18/34   |   Michael takes the pipes to the pipe bender to get the initial bends that will lead from the headers through the crossmember opening that Lowboy created.
Photo 19/34   |   When he is satisfied with the angle, the pipe can be slid into the header adapter.
Photo 20/34   |   Due to differences on each side, the driver-side portion of pipe from the adapter to the crossmember required more bends and ingenuity to work the right angles.
Photo 21/34   |   Then, the pipe on the driver side can be loosely attached to the adapter. You can see the pipe needed extra bends to come away from the oil filter then back upwards towards the crossmember.
Photo 22/34   |   Our Thrush Glasspack Mufflers can be fitted onto the pipe and hang there without welding yet which allows for the rest of the exhaust to run to our exit points.
Photo 23/34   |   To get around the trailing arms and run the pipe to our desired exit point before the rear wheel opening, Michael goes back and forth to the pipe bender, then to the chop saw when the length is correct.
Photo 24/34   |   He slides the pipe into the muffler exit opening when he's satisfied with the routing.
Photo 25/34   |   An exhaust hanger is mounted to the rear frame on the Chevy to support the weight of the rear pipes.
Photo 26/34   |   The rod from the exhaust hanger is bent under the pipe and then welded in place.
Photo 27/34   |   The weight is now carried at the rear while the hanger bushing keeps it from being too rigid.
Photo 28/34   |   With the piping all in place, the adapter bolts can be tightened to lock the exhaust to the Hedman Hedders.
Photo 29/34   |   The welding can begin to seal up the sections between the entry and exit of the mufflers.
Photo 30/34   |   As a way to balance exhaust flow through the system, we decided to finish the job with an H-style crossover pipe.
Photo 31/34   |   The outline of our H-Pipe is marked onto each side of the exhaust pipes.
Photo 32/34   |   Using a drill and hole saw, an opening is made in each side where the crossover will attach.
Photo 33/34   |   The H-pipe is welded in finishing up our new exhaust system, which sounds great as well as being out of view.
Photo 34/34   |   After a solid week of work, our Suburban was much safer and reliable, could turn and stop on a dime, looked and sounded exponentially better, and now had the clearance necessary for a lowered daily driver. Check out the whole build at truckin.com.


Hedman Hedders
Whittier, CA
Lowboy Motorsports
Mesa, AZ