Twists & Turns

Jul 8, 2011

When you think about it, headers offer the complete package when it comes to aftermarket upgrades-power, sound and looks.

For most performance enthusiasts, headers are among that select set of must-have upgrades, making them an attractive option for speed shops. But selling headers isn’t necessarily easy.

For one thing, they are big and bulky and take up a lot of space. Add to that the seemingly endless list of applications-as well as a variety of coating options that are often available-and stocking a good supply becomes difficult.

Still, header installs can serve as a staple of speed shops catering to a variety of performance markets, from hot rods and muscle cars to trucks and sport compacts. Combined with related products such as intakes and exhaust systems, they become an integral part of popular package deals.

We checked in with a few header manufacturers to get their take on the market, recent technological advancements that may be affecting the industry, and how shops can make more money offering headers to their performance customers.

Holley Performance Products
Bowling Green, Ky.
Todd O’Neill
Exhaust Engineer

Our hottest new header product is…

…engine-swap headers (focusing on LS applications in early muscle cars, other classics and foreign performance cars), black and titanium-look ceramic coatings, slick cast-iron manifolds and engine mounts to facilitate the installation of GM LS engines in a multitude of domestic and foreign vehicles.

Its best features include…

…a matched, engineered package of components that eliminates guesswork and shortens project completion times.

The most important recent development in the headers market is…

…companies with the means to do so are using CAD/CFD tools for optimizing design and component geometries.

Technology has impacted the headers market by…

…allowing manufacturers to bring new products to the market more quickly.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling headers today is…

…staying in front of developing trends and changing customer preferences.

Shops can immediately start making more money selling headers by…

…listening to their customers and paying close attention to new product information that is being released from header manufacturers to identify any unique opportunities within their customer base.

BBK Performance Parts
Temecula, Calif.
Brian Murphy

Our hottest new header product is…

…our new 2011 Mustang V-6 and 5.0-liter GT header systems, which are available in both tuned-length and full-length versions. The headers offer 12 to more than 30 rwhp gains depending on the engine and version, and will work with a factory or aftermarket tune.

Its best features include…

…full CNC mandrel-bent construction with robotic welding and standard chrome or optional polished ceramic finishes.

The most important recent development in the headers market is…

…direct-fit, high-quality models utilizing high-flow steel core converter technology for today’s new breed of muscle cars.

Technology has impacted the headers market by…

…some new developments in the OEM market such as a new cylinder head on the 2012 V-6 Camaro with an integral exhaust manifold will eliminate the ability to add performance exhaust headers to some of these models, as the OEMs and the Obama administration continue to impact new applications and job growth in this great American industry.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling headers today is…

…keeping up on constantly changing state emissions laws as well as staying on top of the newest models and technologies.

Overall, however, performance exhaust upgrades are still one of the most popular upgrades with their proven performance and overall consumer understanding.

Shops can immediately start making more money selling headers by…

…installing them on customers’ vehicles. Most headers are easy to install; however, consumers can still be wary of attempting this upgrade on their own.

Hedman Hedders
Whittier, Calif.
Marc Lewis

Our hottest new header product is…

…Hedman 304 Hedders. Hedman took its top-20 A-moving muscle car and truck headers and converted them to its Hedman 304 line.

Hedman 304s are full stainless steel construction headers-from flange to tube to collector, they are manufactured completely of T-304 stainless steel.

Its best features include…

…the higher chromium and nickel content of T-304 stainless steel offers far superior corrosion protection compared to T-409 stainless. Granted, some vehicle owners don’t like the look of raw stainless, or the rest of their engine compartment is done up “to the nines.” For those reasons, Hedman also offers Hedman 304 Stainless Hedders coated with its traditional HTC ceramic-metallic coating.

The second best feature of these headers is that Hedman is using the same master jigs for these vehicle applications that it has been fine-tuning over the years. That means that these stainless models fit just as well as the mild steel counterparts Hedman has been successfully selling for many years.

The very best feature of these headers? They are made in the USA!

The most important recent development in the headers market is…

…advancements in tube bender technology have made repeatable, precision bending of tough materials like stainless steel possible. Mass producers can now cost-effectively add the new materials to their normal workflow.

Technology has impacted the headers market by…

…only a few short years ago, car guys were having to pay through the nose to have a quality set of stainless headers for their muscle car or truck built by a fab shop. With the introduction of these newer materials by mass-market manufacturers such as Hedman, more “average consumers” can find these products on the shelf, and with a more affordable price tag.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling headers today is…

…unlike a sparkplug or gasket, header boxes are bulky, and take up precious floor space. Knowing the right headers to keep on the shelf is crucial.

Shops need to look at their core customer base, and communicate with the manufacturer to see what is moving well. In many cases, contacting their local manufacturer’s rep is a wise use of time. It is the manufacturer rep’s duty to help keep dealers informed about the latest trends coming from manufacturers, and what the best-selling products are for any given brand-not just headers.

Shops can immediately start making more money selling headers by…

…knowing the full potential of headers is paramount. If you just think of them as another part a customer might ask for, you won’t sell many headers.

Once you realize the true importance of this one product, you’ll have no trouble displaying a set on the wall behind your counter, putting a pair on a display motor, promoting them with specials or suggestive-selling a set.

Customers want instant gratification. They want to go home, install the parts they just bought, hop in for a drive and feel that the money and time they just spent was all worth it. Headers do that! They truly offer the best bang for the buck.

In addition, by uncorking your customer’s engine with a set of headers, all the other parts you sell the customer can work better, and that leads to a happy customer-end of story.

Kooks Custom Headers
Statesville, N.C.
Kook Jr.
President

Our hottest new header product is…

…stainless Pro Stock/dragster headers for strut and A-frame-style cars.

Its best features include…

…304 stainless material with stainless laser-cut flanges and mandrel-bent equal-length primaries exiting in a Kooks stamp scavenge merge collector.

The most important recent development in the headers market is…

…we have a new 49-state EPA-approved catalytic converter design for use on vehicles where emissions are controlled.

Technology has impacted the headers market by…

…being able to digitize the vehicle and utilizing the XYZ data and incorporating it into designing, bending and manufacturing in a third of the time.

The biggest challenge for speed shops selling headers today is…

…targeting their demographic client base and working to support their local racing events.

Shops can immediately start making more money selling headers by…

…stocking the correct headers for their targeted market and having the technical aspects as far as the correct installation procedure, and also having the proper marketing materials in place.