Exhaust systems are one of the most common modifications car enthusiasts pick when they want to improve their project cars. Most cars running on stock exhausts often sound bland, and their grunts don’t really exemplify the personality car owners want for their vehicles. This holds true for much older cars like the Chevrolet Corvette C5. At first glance, the car looks wickedly impressive. But once you hear how it sounds, well, it could definitely use an upgrade.
The sound quality is not the only thing needed to be improved with stock exhausts. Most of the time, the OEM exhaust manufacturers fit into cars that are designed to function normally. And if you’re a performance oriented driver who drives maniacally from time to time, you’d know that “normal” isn’t good enough. Stock exhausts are not as free flowing as the ones available in the aftermarket, therefore inhibiting you from realizing your car’s full potential.
That’s why many Chevrolet Corvette C5 owners would opt for aftermarket exhaust systems because they offer a lot of benefits that the stock exhaust can provide. Since the car was a success back in its glory days, a lot of them were mass produced, so aftermarket parts are pretty abundant. By choosing the best exhaust system among those bunch, you can see your car transform into a much more aggressive and sinister vehicle.
Below are what we think are the best C5 Corvette exhausts you can get your hands on.
#1 Corsa Performance Indy Pace Car Exhaust System w/ Pro Series Tips
- Manufacturer: Corsa Performance
- Part Number: 14111
The Pace Car Exhaust System made by Corsa Performance is one the most well-loved mods in the C5 community. Most owners have had it on their cars for many years, and they love it for its impressive quality and great vehicle fitment. And even though there are other exhaust variations like the Sport and Touring C5 Corvette Corsa exhausts, many would still favor the Pace Car because of how good it sounds at idle, at moderate acceleration, and at full throttle.
So what’s with the Indy Pace Car Exhaust System?
It’s a great modification for car enthusiasts who want to experience an aggressive exhaust note without hearing any sort of drone. This is due to Corsa’s very own Reflective Sound Cancellation, the technology responsible for the unwanted low-frequency sound waves cancelling out each other. This exhaust system is also made from 304 stainless steel, and is significantly lighter than the stock.
What’s more, the Indy Pace Car exhaust system outflows the stock exhaust by 45%. This exhaust system not only improves the sound quality of your C5 Corvette, but also provides you with much needed performance gains, by about 10hp and 11lb-ft of torque. On top of that, the exhaust system also comes with some rad Pro Series tips.
With an aggressive exhaust grunt partnered with some classy polished exhaust tips, you’ll no doubt gain the attention of everyone around you.
#2 BBE PRT Axle-Back Exhaust System
- Manufacturer: Corsa Performance
- Part Number: FCOR-0215
A relatively affordable exhaust system that can provide some pretty solid and eargasmic exhaust note may be a figment of the imagination, but that’s not the case for the BBE PRT Axle-Back exhaust system. This exhaust system releases some pretty mild touring notes while at cruising speed and an aggressive one during hard acceleration. The sound that it makes is pretty cool whenever you drop the RPM’s quickly, right before hitting the next gear.
What can you get from the BBE PRT Axle-Back Exhaust System?
In a nutshell, you’ll get a boost in performance as well as sound quality improvement. Because of the unique technology that they employ to their exhaust, the exhaust gas flows better than the stock. This upturn in performance will ultimately result in better mpgs, a slight increase in horsepower and torque, and an upgrade on how the exhaust sounds like. With this exhaust system, you can experience aggressive tones under spirited driving conditions, and a mellow tune while at cruising speed.
The build quality of this C5 Corvette PRT exhaust is notable too. It’s made from T-304 stainless steel, the pipes were bent using mandrel bending and not crush bending. And also, it acts as a direct bolt-on replacement to the stock system. It utilizes all the OEM mounting locations, so no further modification is necessary.
Perhaps the winning factor with the BBE PRT Axle-Back Exhaust System is how good it sounds in whatever driving condition you’re at. When you’re cruising on the freeway, the sound is mellow and relaxed. But when you drive through extra-legal speeds, you’ll be surprised by the monster that lingers beneath your car.
#3 Borla ATAK® Cat-Back Exhaust System
- Manufacturer: Borla
- Part Number: 140428
If you care about how aggressive your C5 Corvette could get less than the performance gains you can enjoy, then the Borla ATAK® Cat-Back Exhaust System might be the one for you. Borla has that iconic exhaust sound that only they can create, and a lot of car enthusiasts love them for it. With the ATAK® technology on their exhausts, you can experience what a Chevrolet Corvette C5 would sound like when it’s on full offense.
Let’s first discuss the sound quality of the ATAK® Cat-Back Exhaust System. Because of the ATAK (Acoustically-Tuned Applied Kinetics) technology, the sound output of this exhaust is aggressive enough to turn your car into a street behemoth. And also, the technology they’ve used also helps drivers in creating important decisions like throttle input or gear selection. The acoustic feedback this exhaust provides to the driver is just so underrated.
And as for the build quality, we think that Borla overdid it a little. The ATAK® Cat-Back Exhaust System makes use of Borla’s patented straight through pipe design together with their very own multi-core technology to unleash all of the hidden horsepower on your car. And because of the newfound increase in exhaust velocity, your car will inevitably experience more power, better fuel economy, and most of all, a sweet aggressive exhaust grunt that only Borla can produce.
If you’re not a big fan of overtly loud exhausts, you can also check out the Borla Touring Cat-Back Exhaust System.
#4 SLP Performance Loudmouth Exhaust System
- Manufacturer: SLP Performance
- Part Number: 6358
Budget is a major factor to consider when looking for exhaust systems. Oftentimes, the best sounding ones come with a pretty steep price tag, and not all car enthusiasts can afford that. Fortunately, there are aftermarket parts manufacturers out there who offer first-rate exhaust systems that are slightly budget friendly, like SLP Performance. For the C5 Corvette, they’ve got the Loudmouth Exhaust System.
As the name suggests, this C5 Corvette Loudmouth exhaust is, well, pretty loud. It’s the scaring-your-neighbor’s-dog kind of loud. To its defense, the Loudmouth Exhaust System is capable of making cars scream like a true V8-powered monstrosity. It’s the kind of exhaust system a proud V8 lover would want on their vehicle because of how thunderous it can be.
Keep in mind however, that this exhaust system’s strength is its own weakness. Because of its aggressively blaring exhaust sound, you might gain the ire of some of your neighbors. And also, the Loudmouth’s got some pretty bad resonance issue. To prevent these problems, you can lower the decibels down by using some X-pipes or long tubes to mellow down it’s sound a little bit.
If you’re looking for an exhaust system that will make you feel what a true V8 engine sounds like (and can tolerate some resonance/drone issue), then the SLP Performance Loudmouth Exhaust System is for you.
#5 Magnaflow Street-Series Axle-Back Exhaust System
- Manufacturer: Magnaflow
- Part Number: 16732
Usually, C5 Corvette owners want their cars to sound loud or mellow. Other enthusiasts, however, want something between the two. For them, the combination of loudness, aggression, and depth is the ultimate recipe for an impressive street car. If you belong to this group of people who want to walk on the fine line between loudness and deeply rich, then the Magnaflow Street-Series Axle-Back Exhaust System is for you.
The Magnaflow Street-Series Axle-Back Exhaust System is a modification that delivers some dyno-proven horsepower to your car, along with a snug interior sound and an exterior sound that screams performance. It’s made from stainless steel, and comes with some neat quad-exhaust tips that look terrific from the rear. And also, this package comes off at a relatively affordable price. Grabbing all of the said benefits on a realistic price tag sounds like a good deal for many people.
Even though the Street-Series Axle-Back Exhaust System is inherently great, it still has its flaws. And yes, you’ve guessed it: drone. A Chevrolet Corvette C5 with this exhaust system on may resonate whenever it reaches 1,400RPM. The drone will also be painfully obvious when you’re going uphill. Other than that, the drone is not that big of a problem.
Criteria to Consider When Buying an Exhaust System
Most car enthusiasts would consider C5 Corvette aftermarket exhaust systems as major investments for their cars. And because of that, grabbing one from a local shop just because the deal is attractive enough may be an unwise decision. If you want your experience in selecting the right exhaust system to be hassle-free and worthwhile, you should set up some criterias.
To help you out on your quest on buying the right exhaust, we’ve made a criteria to help which aftermarket exhaust system is the right one for you.
Budget is perhaps the most important thing to consider when it comes to buying an aftermarket exhaust system. Sure, you want the best exhaust you can get your hands on, but can you afford it with your current budget? Installation can be a pain too, as it can cost you more money, unless you can do it yourself.
Most aftermarket exhaust systems for the Chevrolet Corvette C5 today will cost you around a thousand. Some brands like Borla, which is known for their product quality, will cost you even more.
There are also some manufacturers out there who offer decently priced exhaust systems that might fit into your budget. Ultimately, you can opt for second-hand parts from sellers on the internet who are selling their exhausts for a much cheaper price.
The point here is to consider your budget first before you hit the purchase button. And if possible, set aside some cash too for other costs like installation, other needed parts, etc.
A mediocre sound output is usually the reason why car enthusiasts prefer aftermarket exhausts over their stock ones. Others would get their hands on the most aggressive sounding exhaust, while others would rather pick the mildly sounding ones. Whatever preference you might have, it’s critical that you establish what kind of sound output you want first before you purchase any kind of exhaust system.
Do you want your C5 Corvette to sound like a true V8-powered beast, or do you want to just ride through the freeway with a deep yet powerful exhaust tone? Aftermarket auto parts manufacturers out there have a lot of selection to offer, so it would be wise for you to do your homework first and decide what kind of sound quality you ultimately want for your car.
Overall Build Quality
How the exhaust system is constructed is another critical factor to consider. Afterall, you wouldn’t want something that cheaply made right? A good exhaust system will provide you all of the benefits you need without sacrificing build quality. What use is an aftermarket exhaust system if it’s unreliable to begin with?
Most exhaust offered in the market today is made from stainless steel. This metal is good against corrosion and resistance, and it often lasts for a relatively long time. On top of that, they’re lighter than the stock, which is attractive if weight reduction is an important factor for you.
If you want something better, you can opt for titanium exhausts instead. Titanium is far more durable than stainless steel, and they offer more weight reduction than the typical T304 or T409 stainless steel exhaust offered in the market today. Even if titanium exhaust is more expensive than the ones made from stainless steel, we could argue that they’re still the best value for your hard-earned money.
At the end of the day, you’d want something that will set you up for a long time, and will stay at peak condition, in case the time comes where you have to sell it off for something better.
Ease of Installation
This factor is generally not that important, especially if you’ve got a professional to do the dirty work for you. However, if you’re planning to install a newly bought exhaust system by yourself, you might have a difficult time. Before you buy an aftermarket exhaust system, look into the forums first to see the opinions of the current and previous owners on how easy it is to install a specific exhaust system.
A lot of car enthusiasts would argue that aftermarket exhaust systems are just a scam, and they won’t provide any practical and enjoyable performance gains. In reality, these modifications actually offer some decent performance gains. Although the numbers aren’t astronomically high, they would still help a lot in making your car’s engine perform better.
To know if the claims of an exhaust system providing horsepower and torque gains are true, you can scour the forums for its dyno test. This way, you can see some tangible results and make a decision if a specific exhaust system is worthy of your time and attention.
An aftermarket exhaust system is the best modification you can do to improve your Chevrolet Corvette C5 sound-wise. Once you’ve got one on your car, you’ll soon realize that the difference between the stock exhaust and the aftermarket one is night and day. Aside from better exhaust sound quality, you’ll also benefit from some performance gains like increased horsepower and torque, and many more.