Reply to "Sticky #4: Pantera Exhaust Systems"

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Originally posted by PanteraDoug: Personal taste is one thing but cost hasn't been discussed as a factor. If it is cost no object then who can argue? I am the original stainless guy.


If price was no object they would be Inconel or Ti. Big Grin

Ya-know, the difference between stainless and mild steel may not be as big as you think. Most of the decisions I made on my system that increased cost had nothing to do with material choice but I’m certainly pleased with those decisions.

I bought about $900 worth of stainless mandrel bends. If I did it again, I could do it in $750 easy. If I didn’t have three steps in diameter, probably $600. So do you want stepped headers or a single diameter primary? In general, in 16 ga, I’d say mild steel is about half the cost of 304L unless you’re buying from Burns. Anyway, mild steel saves you somewhere between $450 and $300 on the primaries.

The next big ticket item is the collectors. Do you want the performance of a true merge collector with the ease of assembly of slip joints or just a formed collector with no bullets? I bought stainless slips for $400 a pair (Burns were $800). You can buy a pair of formed collectors for $100. $200 if you want bullets. It’s all a trade on fab labor, your own skill level, and how you value your time. You don’t see many true merge slip collectors in mild steel because no one would bother to invest the time. Anyway, this is a $300 difference but it’s really driven by the choice collector style and degree of fab, not the material. So even though it’s $300 delta in cost it’s not a fair comparison because a simple open formed collector will not do what a merge collector will do performance-wise.

Flanges are also pricey. I paid a friend of mine to machine 8 pieces of 304L to my specs and it was $280. They were high port pattern but I suspect I could have gotten mild steel somewhere for half that somewhere.

The rest of my system is also purely choice but really not much to do with material.

I chose VBand clamps over flanges because of ease of service but a flange and gasket works just as well. I chose repackable light weight stainless mufflers but could have put a $60 mild steel glass pack on each side. Maybe they could be done in stainless for double that?

Anyway, the fair comparison of materials is at the primaries, and I think that is $900 vs $450 (but this might only be $600 vs $300 in a single diameter header). For the collectors its $400 vs $100, but as I said, still not apples to apples performance-wise. Another $150 for the flanges so maybe $1580 vs $690; stainless versus mild steel. $900 delta maybe?

Wouldnt have done me any good but I think you can buy a set for mild steel 180s for 4V Cleve heads on 9.2 deck from Hall for about $1100. That's the difference between someone who has done the layout work and has a CNC bender and inexpensive long mild steel sticks and someone that has to piece together mandrel bends. IMO they’re beat to fit and paint to match as a friend of mine says. If you hired someone to have set like I made in stainless, I think you’re talking North of $5k and >$3k of this would be labor. Dont see how someone could do it for less.

I can’t tell you how many hours I have invested in researching parts, design and planning the layout, but it’s way more than the fab time. It’s so fun for me it’s hard to consider it as cost. When it got down to the actual fab, I think I maybe had two full, solid weekends into it and I hired the welding.

I dunno, I just wanted the set of headers that was in my mind's eye. When it comes to cars, some things you just need to do and not grind too much about the dollars or the time. What else would we be doing?

Best,
Kelly


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Good luck on the Pantera. Looks fantastic. Hope you finish it someday? LOL!

You eat the elephant one bite at a time. It will be done!

Best,
K
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