Feel the noize

DSC00884_4a1917aa222da-lightboxHowever, I have to admit to finding the stock C6 exhaust system a little muted for my liking. So the search was on to find a replacement…

Deciding which aftermarket system to go for was surprisingly challenging; there are lots of different systems and even more opinions from owners. The general advice is to get a ride in cars with each system fitted; easy in the US, nigh on impossible in the UK with its small population of Corvettes. So: to the Internet!

A common thread running through all of the forum discussions was the dreaded “drone”. The consensus seemed to be that the way to avoid it was either to choose a system that was only slightly louder than stock, or to choose a system with a “European” sound (i.e. more treble and less bass). I wanted a loud system with plenty of bass, so I discounted both of those options. B&B’s Fusion system sounded promising: it’s a dual-mode system that allows you to switch between mild and wild at will. Unfortunately, it’s even heavier than the stock system, fairly complex, and I found reviews saying that it droned in its mild-mode and wasn’t very loud in its wild-mode! The final nail in its coffin was a comment from a friend in the Corvette Club; he’d had a (different) B&B system on his C6 Corvette and the quality was pretty poor. Far more positively, he’d had a Borla Stinger system on the same Corvette and was very impressed with its build quality, deep sound and relative lack of drone.

The financially painful bit came next. I ordered a full Borla Stinger cat-back system (including X-pipe) from Eckler’s in the US, for delivery to the South’s favourite US car specialist: Ian Goss Services in Surbiton. The system cost a little under £1,000 plus shipping, duty, VAT and fitting. All in, that’s about £1,500 for a nice noise, a weight reduction of 14lb, and a power hike of 12-15bhp (taking the grand total to around 450bhp).

It took a few weeks for Eckler’s to process my order and ship it to the UK, which actually worked out perfectly. The exhaust arrived the day before my Thruxton track day (which you can read about in my previous journal entry) and I arranged to have it fitted the following Monday: no point in waiting!

As I neared Ian Goss’s premises, up popped a “low tyre pressure” warning: my first puncture in 27 years of driving! Aren’t run-flat tyres wonderful, though? I could complete the journey (watching the pressure continue to drop via the DIC) and just add a puncture repair to the list of jobs for the day.

When I picked the car up later in the day, the first thing I noticed was just how big the exhaust tips looked: quad 4″ tips look almost comical until you get used to them! Starting up, the sound at idle was impressive: much louder than previously with a nice bass-line. On the move with the roof down, the character of the car was transformed. There’s a wonderful off-beat muscle-car sound under acceleration, building to a deep bellow at higher revs. On the overrun there’s grin-inducing burble and crackle. Things quieten down when cruising, although there’s still a nice underlying V8 rumble. Overall, it’s loud but not too anti-social. Just think of the car chase in Bullitt and you won’t be a million miles away! An unexpected bonus, although it’s too early to be sure, is that fuel consumption seems to have improved a little.

Are there any downsides? It does drone fairly loudly under acceleration between 1400-1700rpm (although fortunately you hear it rather than feel it); outside that rev-range or when cruising there’s no noticeable drone. I always use the paddle-shift option rather than leave the ‘box in Drive, which reduces the amount of time in the drone-zone; people who like to drive an automatic as an automatic may be well-advised to choose a different exhaust system. Drop the roof and you don’t even notice what little drone there is (and you get to enjoy that V8 beat more clearly). The volume at idle is also significantly louder when the engine’s cold, which probably won’t please the neighbours too much…but no worse than the diesel clatter as they all start their engines. Finally, it bumps up insurance costs but a bit of shopping around at renewal time should sort that out.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the Stingers; my C6 now makes all the right noises, and it’s still perfectly usable as a daily driver. A little less drone would be nice, but I can live with it. Of course, not everyone feels the same so I still have the stock exhaust system in my garage ready for resale time!

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Gary Walsh