Diagnosis and Repair of Your Imperial's Exhaust Pipes and Mufflers


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Exhaust -> Pipes

Tip from Dick (1967 and '68):

The tail pipe on my original car is tucked into the space between the frame and the tank, and lines up exactly with the left edge of the right backup light. The resonator is small enough on the original system to fit in this same area, and it is right in front of the pipe end. The tailpipe runs around 100-130 degrees, depending on how hard the engine is working, not a hazard apparently. So far, so good, anyway (for 35 years and 35,000 Miles). The original system is VERY quiet.

In my dual equipped 68, the pipes on both sides are in this same area also, and they both line up with the edge of the backup lights which is toward the center of the car. Both pipes are pointed straight back, and tucked up into the space between the tank and frame, on both sides of the car. This car has had the system replaced, but my instructions were to exactly duplicate the original; this was done except that the turned down end of the tailpipe is cut off at right angles to the pipe, not angled as the originals were. The replacement system is too loud for my taste, but my muffler shop says there is nothing they can do to quiet it down further. They replaced both the mufflers and the resonators, and put in a crossover pipe, but still, it sounds too throaty to me, not Imperial-like.

On both cars, the ends of the tailpipes are about 14 inches in from the bottom edge of the bumper, so they are hard to see without squatting on the floor.

Question from Dennis (1953):

I am replacing the entire exhaust system on my '53 Custom Imperial. The guy in Florida I bought the pipes from said there is no gasket between the engine pipe and manifold flange. When I took it apart, I found there is a thin gasket in that area. It almost seems to be metal. Is this a necessary part and now where can I get it?

Reply from Rolland:

The gasket they used back then was a thin metal (perhaps .030) with an embossed ring about .060 wide about 1/4 larger in diameter than the hole. The embossed ring compresses and seals the exhaust flange when it is tightened. It was recommended to use a new gasket each time the flange was removed because the embosses ring was already compressed. I am not sure what luck you would have reusing the gasket or installing it without a gasket. It would depend upon how flat the flange and exhaust manifold were I expect. My experience is that small exhaust leaks will seal themselves with carbon with time. Large leaks however just get worse.

Sorry I can't help with the gasket but I wouldn't be surprised if many of the parts stores don't still carry them.

Question from Anthony (1956):

I am taking my '56 Imperial into Midas tomorrow to have dual exhaust put on. The previous owner apparently converted to a single exhaust years ago. Does anyone know what the size of the muffler inlet, head pipe, and outlet, tail pipe is correct.


From Rodger:

I've never had a decent job from Midas and would suggest staying as far away as possible. They use their own gener-o-fit stuff that doesn't look or work like original.

I'd have to check my records, but I recently had exhaust pipes and mufflers put on my "lesser" '55 MoPar and the mufflers are long oval units, almost 4' long. They are as close to original as possible.

From Kenyon:

I highly recommend that you seek out a privateer muffler shop. -Don't know what your options are where you live, but they're plentiful where I live. The places that do hot-rods and the other collector-type cars may be less apt to give you reason to return later.

Midas uses the thinnest, chainstore-iest chintz stuff. If the car is going to stay in the family, pay a little more to a quality outfit and your rig should last much, much longer.

If you go comparison shopping, check the weight and thickness of the steel in the pipes and the mufflers. The Midas mufflers are light enough to toss around with one hand with ease.

Question from Tim (1960):

Is there anyone who carries the exhaust sytems for our cars? It seems it would be a lot cheaper to install a pre fabbed sytem and cut out the labor to build at a muffler shop.


From Kenyon:

Get prefab assemblies or connect the dots at your local place using these instructions.

Not much feedback on these, would appreciate any commentary on how they work.

I got a prefabbed (as yet uninstalled) pipe and muffler kit from "Kings & Queens" somewhere back east through my parts-guy. They did not include the resonator, the second, smaller cylindrical muffler that goes under the fin. You'll have to look around for that but should be able to find something on the shelf somewhere...

From Dave:

N.O.S mufflers come up time to time on ebay.

From David:

Try www.kanter.com. A little pricey, and my experience is they are eager to please. You may be able to talk them into using higher quality materials for a more durable system than what they offer off the shelf if you are willing to wait for them to build it.

From Joe:

Also try here http://accurateltd.com/ .

From John:

Try Taylermade exhaust, advertised in WPC. He is a bit pricey too but very reliable. He made a couple of mistakes on my '60 & gladly corrected them free of charge, even though it took me almost 2 years to notice the problems.

Question from Johann (1965):

Where could I order crossover pipes for a '65 single exhaust (413)?  Is it cheaper to fabricate it?


From Chris:

Crossover ("Y" pipes) are tough to come by. Most aftermarket exhaust providers have everything BUT that.

I put dual exhausts on my 66 LeBaron and it has been a wonderful upgrade. I have two large mufflers and two resonators, similar to the pre-1962 systems on sedans with the same chassis. (There is no crossover pipe in my system, as per these earlier dual systems, but having one wouldn't hurt.)

The difference in sound quality is nothing short of amazing, i.e., there is no sound. It is incredibly quiet - all I can hear is the cooling fan whirring at idle. The car seems to "breathe" better, too, and is thus a bit more responsive. At highway speeds it is eerily quiet, too.

I used the photo of a 1960 bare chassis in the Photo Archives book on Imperial, 1956-63 for my muffler man to base his fabrication So find a good muffler shop, and go for the duals. I think you'll like it.

From Rodger:

The two door Imperials were considered to be the sport model, soooo in time the dual exhaust option was dropped for Le Baron's and the four door Imperials.

If you want a more proficient engine and a cleaner emission test result have the local exhaust shop use the inside diameter of the exhaust manifolds opening size. This tubing is to go into a "X" pipe of which they will fabricate. >From the "X" the exhaust should go into the longest set of mufflers that will fit into the space. On each side of the gas tank area have them used the same size of diameter resonators and again use the longest ones ( 21") and to have them bend the tubing at the end in the MoPar style.

The "X" pipe may be an item that you have missed out on. Call about three muffler shops and ask the difference of an "X" to a V8's system ( manufacture or engine size is not needed to understand).

If you do the above you will be pleased with the engine response, the MPG data and you will have the "country club" audio than an Imperial should have.

If you elect to have a lower MPG figure and still want the "Y" into an single exhaust just make an appointment with any ole muffler shop that will book ya in. They can fabricate the same system for you. Again you still want the diameter of the inside of the exhaust manifolds all the way to the rear bumper and the longest muffler and resonators.

Question from Greg (1965):

Does anyone have a recommendation regarding a company that does reproduction exhaust systems? We need all new pipes, mufflers, resonators etc. and I'm in a quandary as to whether I should get someone locally to try and bend everything like Imperial did or if a company who specializes in this type of work would do a better job. Any suggestions? We're not too far away from installing the new system so I need to get cracking on this and make a decision. I'll be looking forward to any posts with your suggestions.


From Henry:

There are two major suppliers that folks use. One is Kepich and the other is Kings and Queens. Just took a quick look through Nov. Hemmings, but did not find their ads. Perhaps others will supply particulars. Some have had great experiences with one or the other and some have had so-so to bad experiences with both. For us, we have used them both and the systems were okay. We had to do some fussing and rebending (at a muffler shop) to get one of the front pieces to connect well with the manifold. We install them ourselves and generally have trouble getting them to be tight and rattle free. So I have still to take my 61 Imperial to a shop and have it tightened up. Up to you, but either is okay as far as our experiences, tend to use Kepich more.

From Philippe:

Stay away from Kepich! Some friends ordered an exhaust system and they were not pleased.  I remember also that some IML members were not happy with Kepich. I ordered my aluminized dual exhaust from Classic Exhaust and it was perfect. Another friend bought also an exhaust from them with no problem!

Question from Robin (1966):

I am about ready to replace my exhaust from the "Y" pipe back. Do I go to an exhaust place and have them bend the pipes? Anyone have any experience with that? Also, was there a resonator on a '66 LeBaron 4 door when new?


From Dave:

Yes, '66 Imperial LeBarons had a resonator at the rear of the car when new. It ran parallel to the leaf spring if memory serves me from seeing some cars underneath.

I have never used this service myself, but I know some who have and had their expectations met. REPRODUCTION Exhaust systems, mufflers, pipes, tailpipes, most Mopars from 1914 to current. No "Y" pipes!
Jim Fortin ( d.b.a. Talermade )
95 Weston St. Brockton, MA 02301-3334
email address: het1@aol.com

From William:

My own personal preference is to buy OEM spec/configuration pipes/mufflers and then get them assembled and clamped together, complete with OEM spec hangers and such. Basically, what someone with some hand tools and the vehicle on a lift could accomplish in an afternoon without having to go to a muffler shop for anything. Might even need a tubing cutter or hacksaw to get the rear "over the axle" pipe cut up, but they should come out in one piece if the vehicle is on a lift of some kind.

I haven't looked lately, but it might be possible to get some of the pipes from Walker or similar via NAPAa (from what I've seen, unless they've changed vendors, the NAPA number is a Walker number, just a differently-colored tag). Walker was/is an OEM supplier so that kind of stuff would be preferable as it will fit "right". In the back of the catalog, there is a pictoral list of the hangers too. I think all of that could be on their website, or at least a parts lookup section.

I also understand that the some of the "bend to spec" repro suppliers might use different gauge pipes, so shopping around and checking with other members can be an asset. These vendors might also have a choice of tubing stock too, from normal to stainless, with appropriate pricing differences.

One other source might be checking around with some of the older -- and privately owned -- auto supplies in your area that might have carried OEM replacement pipes in the past. This is something you'd need to do in person and NOT over the phone as you'll want them to get out the old catalog and look up the numbers to see if they might have any left. You might be surprised with what you might find too! Unfortunately, Imperial stuff might be harder to find than other brands, but NORS items such as that would be neat to find. Pricing? Might all depend on how well you "get on" with the owner.

One day, before heading to the Arlington Swap Meet, I stopped at a local auto supply like that and scored a muffler and tail pipe for a '70s car I have plus two NORS Street Hemi mufflers. Pricing was very good too! You might be able to do some of the "culling" from the Yellow Pages listings over the phone, but showing up in person usually works best.

There are still some of these older auto supplies in Fort Worth, Dallas, probably Denton, Decatur, and other outlying small towns. Happy hunting!

With regard to muffler shop systems, the quality of what you get can be "all over the board". Many want to use what they have instead of what you might want, even if you make it plain what you want beforehand. Everything will be welded together and might not be bent as the stock pipes were (possible clearance issues). Plus, if something goes wrong or hits, you HAVE to go back to them. Mufflers will be generic and not OEM spec too. Some are better than others, but I still like the systems that I can fix myself that are clamped together (with high quality clamps--there's quality issues there too!) and are OEM configured. Some people really don't care about what's underneath as long as it's legal and reasonably quiet, but others want to see factory configurations under there too. Just depends on what you're looking for. It's out there somewhere, but it might take a little more effort to find the OEM factory configured items.

From John:

I have purchased from Jim Fortin for my '60 & found them to be reliable & honest. At the time, I had the added bonus of living about an hours drive from the shop, which is in Whitman, Mass. Warren is the person that actually runs the shop & it was clear from what I saw that he had been doing this stuff for quite a long time.

Question from Mike (1967):

I've heard that installing an 'H' or 'X' pipe, in addition to low down torque, also makes the car significantly quieter.

Hot Rod magazine did a very thorough, in depth article on exhausts last year. Their conclusion was that X pipes are superior to H setups, but the geometry of them makes it difficult to put into most cars. In that case, the H is very acceptable, and still superior to a standard dual setup.

I definitely want to keep Silver quiet. I've heard that using a good turbo muffler combined with something like a cherry bomb (in effect, used as a resonator) makes for a very quiet, efficient setup. Any thoughts on this?


From Rob:

Definitely try to go with the x-pipe. A recent Hot Rod (my uncle just gave me a couple... it's probably 7/01) shows that the x-pipe gave *more* torque than open headers and close to the same hp. The H-pipe was significantly down on hp/tq. The test was done on a 10 second Olds from Superior Automotive, who specialize in Olds & x pipes right here in beautiful downtown Bensonhurst Brooklyn.

From Kenyon:

The local exhaust shop that does hot rods has an older expert guy that told me that given freedom to do what he wishes, he puts in a large diameter ladder type of thing. With enough X's or H's, said he, mufflers and resonators were not needed. This was for rods, and I walked away doubtful, but he claimed to have done it and that it worked. That has absolutely no relevance to imperials, but it did strike me as a curious claim, and he was pretty adamant about it. I think that I'll get a second opinion next time that I see a muffler guy.

From Elijah:

DEFINITELY have the muffler shop add in the crossover ("H") pipe. A couple of years ago, I took my '71 Imperial (with dual exhaust) to a shop to have a couple of exhaust leaks and bumping spots corrected. I figured while I was there, I'd have the crossover pipe added in.

I was amazed at the difference in the low-end torque. I noticed it right away. The crossover pipe really made a difference.

One caveat -- be sure to WATCH the shop while they do the work. I've heard stories of folks getting a "dummy" crossover pipe that was just welded in place without actually having holes in the exhaust pipes to feed it. :-)

Question from Allen (440):

I am getting a new crossover pipe assembly put on my LeBaron ('69) on Monday. I have heard a growl there when under acceleration for some time, tracked down the parts. Someone told me that you can damage your valves by not having this done. I didn't know that - no blue smoke or hard starting but is this true...?


From Peter:

Do you mean y-pipe? If your car is like a 70 (and I think it is) you'll have a y-pipe, mid-pipe, muffler, up-and-over pipe, resonator, and tailpipe. Growling could be a rotted out y-pipe, but it could also be leaking gaskets where the manifolds attach to the y-pipe. And, if you get unlucky like me, you could have a broken stud that attaches the manifold to the head. Also check to make sure that the heat riser valve is free to move since this can cause some aggravating problems. I had a phht phht phht noise under acceleration and it turned out to be a broken off manifold stud all the way at the back on the driver's side. Yuck. I tried to get the broken piece out for hours but eventually lost patience and broke a bolt extractor off in the hole. Ended up pulling both heads, getting new guides and seals, and a valve job. At least it was quiet after all that! Regarding valve damage... A severe exhaust leak can cause the valve nearest the leak to burn. Wouldn't worry about this, though. It's gotta be severe and long term.

From John:

The growl could also also be a bad heat riser. I had this on my first 69 & thought it was an exhaust leak, but it was just the heat riser. This is a common problem on these cars, the one I have now is sort of wired up by the former owner but it is mostly quiet.

Check out the original Muffler Man site!!

Question from Mark (440):

My new '71 sounds like it needs a new exhaust/muffler. Is this something I could roll into any Midas and expect them to have? Or will it be a difficult to find item? If anyone has a better idea than Midas, I would love to hear it.  


From Elijah:

A Midas or other reputable shop (and you might ask local residents, as the quality of these places often varies from shop to shop) should be able to do a fine job with the exhaust. All that they will need to replace will be the single pipe from the Y-pipe back, the muffler, and the resonator. A stock muffler will do the job just fine, but BE SURE you get the resonator on at the back -- it makes a great deal of difference in the sound quality.  Actually, a glass pack will work pretty darn well for this same purpose too. I'd also recommend aluminized pipe, 'cause it will last a WHOLE lot longer.

Since I'm a detailed person, I'll add in the little important part of the fuselage (and later) Imperial exhaust: the tip of the exhaust pipe should be invisible! It should NOT stick out past the bumper, or hang down below the body panels. The exhaust pip should end about eight to ten inches beyond the resonator, and should terminate in a nice little semi-C shaped curve, so that the exhaust is actually blowing *down* and away from the car.

From TJ:

Most places will have from the muffler back. I know that Advance, NAPA, Western carry the muffler, the pipe over the axle, the resonator (if you need it), and both tail pipe versions. The pipes before the muffler are not available, but they can be custom bent.

From Bruno:

If you have any pipes bent, be sure and have them use aluminized pipe. It 'll last much longer than conventional steel and also looks much better.

From John:

I would recommend Midas because the warranty is good anywhere without question. I imagine you will be keeping the car for long time enough to at least get a second system out of your warranty, maybe three or four. There is a Midas shop in Phoenix or the south of Scottsdale, I believe it is on Scottsdale Rd. (whatever the main north-south drag through town is) and the owner has/had a very nice black 68 LeBaron. I used to get out there and always saw the car outside when I would pass by. You should probably call ahead to let them know what you will be bringing to verify that the parts will be in stock or to determine their ability to obtain necessary parts.

Question from Dan (1981):

Will a y-pipe (crossover) from an '80 Cordoba or Mirada w/out the mini catalytic converters fit? Someone mentioned this once.

Reply from Dave:

The Y-pipes are totally different, - guess they did that so we could not "trash" those mini-converters easily.

Follow-up from Carmine:

Hmm, I'm surprised at that. Do you know what the exact difference is, and how it effects fit? I don't see why the exhaust system from any F/M/J shouldn't fit an 81-83 Imperial. If your car is no longer injected, and you wish to improve the abysmal exhaust system, you might consider exhaust manifolds from the Magnum series (92-03) of Chrysler small-blocks. Much better flow without the drawbacks of headers. However, I'm not sure if any of these truck applications will fit F/M/J's. Might be a good tech question for the Mopar Action website, I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this.

For those who don't know...

F= Aspen/Volare (all)

M= Diplomat (78-89) Gran Fury (82-89) LeBaron (78-81) 5th Avenue (82-89)

J= Cordoba/Mirada (80-83) Imperial (81-83)

Reply from Dave:

I did not see why it wouldn't fit either, - but it won't. For one thing, the exhaust manifolds are different where the Y-pipes actually bolt up. I'm sure it could be done if you swapped manifolds too however. Probably another reason for changing all this stuff is so you would have to buy that expensive cat-equipped Y-pipe vs. the much less expensive "plain" '80 & older setup ('Course the "Feds" probably had something to do with that too), - that's how I found out for sure that it would not fit, - I needed a new Y-pipe for an 81, and the original stuff was over $500(!) compared to about $100 for the older unit. Fortunately, the car was less than 5 years old and still under the "emissions warranty" at the time, - so Chrysler bought me a new one (bet they hated that).

Reply from Don:

Didn't they also use the mini cats on Miradas? I had one a few years back and it had them. My 81 Imperial also has them and they have to be restrictive. I will probably convert the exhaust to a quiet dual exhaust with dual cats.

Question from Dan (1981):

How are you supposed to get the exhaust pipes off of the manifolds? Hit them with a sledge hammer? I don't want to wreck the catalytic converters. It looks like the flanges must just tighten up the cupped ends of the pipes. Should the y-pipe just pop off?


From William:

It should just fall off. Once the 4 bolts are out, there isn't anything left to hold them up. I had to use a sawzall to cut the exhaust bolts on my '82. No, it wasn't easy, but I don't have a torch. Make sure that all the hangers are undone of course. Go easy with that sledge...if you do miss, I have a complete single exhaust available off my '82.

From Dick:

You mean off the exhaust manifolds? They should just drop down, if the exhaust system support hangers are all loose. Maybe a little tug on them, but nothing more should be required.

From Neil:

If two is indeed the magic number per side then loosen or remove all other retaining bolts, brackets so that the only thing holding the exhaust on is it tenacious grip on the manifolds, then try to tap / lever the two flanges down each down pipe so that they are not causing any resistance, i suspect by the time you have both flanges clear the exhaust will be on the floor.

If you have already done as above and loosened all other bolts and it has not helped then put a block or jack under the silencer and give the down pipes a shove from side to side with your boot that should do the trick.

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