Those Crazy Pipes!

Those Crazy Pipes!

Hot rodding is all about breaking rules. It’s about studying tradition, acknowledging it and then making your own judgement calls. These cars are supposed to be polarizing. If everyone agreed, what fun would that be?

Last spring, my friend David di Falco invited me to a car show at a local high school in Petaluma, California. We hatched a plan to drive our Model A roadsters and display them side by side, showcasing the similarities and differences between 1940s and 1950s hot rods. Highboy versus channeled, ’banger versus V8, splotchy primer versus old paint. As the day of the show grew closer, I started scheming.

I planned to take a less direct route, hitting the scenic highways and winding byways of Northern California. At that point, 90 percent of my car’s use had been within the city limits. With a warmed-over ’banger, stock trans and 3.78 gears, it did just fine in town. But I knew it had more in it. Using what I had learned in the motorcycle world, I decided it needed a full-length exhaust system.

There were a few problems, though. I didn’t have access to a tubing bender or welding equipment—and the show was only a couple weeks away. So, I hit my library to see how the early hot rodders solved the problem. The solution was so archaic—and so painfully simple—that I just had to do it. The answer? Flex pipe, with a twist.

Remember that part about hot rodding being polarizing? This isn’t for everyone. Using easy-to-find parts, I assembled a full-length exhaust system in my driveway. To make the purists extra upset, I kept the pipes long and angled them upward, Bosozoku style. For the finishing touch, I added chrome bell-tips and detail-painted them copper to match the wheels and velocity stack. It’s all held in place with a drilled and polished aluminum bracket that mounts to the spare tire holder bolt holes via chrome hardware.

All in all, it was a fun project that ultimately improved performance. It’s a defining feature of the car, and people either love it or hate it. I’ve run it with and without baffles, both of which change the mood of the roadster drastically. They worked perfectly for the car show, and they continue to work great to this day.

Earlier this week, I was texting with my brother about all things automotive. When we got to the topic of exhaust, he brought up the snarling, popping system I have on my roadster. “I have never laughed so hard or been so happy,” he said.

Let’s not take this stuff too seriously. Hot rodding is too darn fun.

Joey Ukrop

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