61-64 Cross Member and Exhaust news!

For all you people who have modified 61-64 cars and either have or want to install Ram Air Restorations 65-66 421 376 horse exhaust manifolds on your car, I have some news!  These manifolds are the best thing you can do to make about 25 extra horse verses the “brick wall” exhaust manifolds Pontiac made per Jim Butler at Butler Performance.  DO NOT MAKE THESE TWO MISTAKES:

#1:  DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER TUBE STYLE HEADERS.  They suck.  They do not fit behind the steering box (must be beat with a hammer).  You cannot get over speed bumps and the usually leak and burn plug wire ends.  They come loose as well.

#2:  Ram Air Restorations (800-421-8455) makes the only CORRECT version of the 65-66 421 376 horse manifolds.  Others are made with the passenger side being cast backwards.  They are also made in China.  They are bad.  Unfortunately, Ames sells the bad versions.  Buy straight from Ram Air and purchase the entire kit.  The entire kit has both manifolds, the 3″ oil filter spacer (must have), a new bolt kit, new flanges and the best exhaust manifold gaskets in the business.  They fit all “D” head Pontiac engines and have 2.5″ exhaust right out of the box.  If you install on 61 to 64 applications with a back bolt starter, you MUST use a mini-torque starter from Ram Air (MS-2).  If you install on 65 on up big cars, you should use a mini-torque starter as well (MS-1).  Why?  In order to change out a 65 on-up starter, the drivers side manifold must be loosened to remove or replace the starter.  If you use a mini-torque starter, you do not have to loosen the manifold.  If you use the mini-torque starter on ANY applications, you must make a new battery cable and new start (purple) wire.  Your original wires were 18″ long.  You new wires will need to be 24″ long.

Why am I telling you all this exhaust manifold stuff?  Remember I said their manifolds get you to 2.5″ exhaust.  Your car came with 2″ exhaust and it ran OVER THE TOP of your cross member.  With 2.5″ exhaust, it will not clear the floor.  65 and newer cars were built differently and the pipes do not interfere.  I came across this as I installed the Ram Air manifolds on my own car.  I had considered all options.  Notching the cross member, welding 3″ dom pipe on both sides…wow!  Finally Paul at Ram Air offered a solution.  Use a 64-72 A body cross member (not Chevelle).  It has a raised area on both sides to allow pipes to go under the cross member.  I obtained one of these and welded 1.5″ of flat metal the same thickness on both ends (good, hot welds) to make it the same length as my old cross member and the same thickness.  I reused the 61-64 cross member rubber insulators and bolted in my car.  It worked out great with my original 4 speed transmission mount, so it should it should also work in an automatic application as well.  One thing…you have to drill the cross member to use your original parking brake cables, so pay close attention here.  I also recommend a cross-over pipe after the cross member (and before the mufflers) to relieve back pressure and exhaust popping.  I will post photos when I get my car up in the air again.  I hope this article helps a load of people.  Thanks to Paul at Ram Air Restorations.  Great guy!  LK  9/22/2018

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