While the 258 I-6 is a reliable and well-performing engine in most respects, it can take a turn for the worse after big tires and heavy axles make their way into picture. One method of bringing the engine back up to its original capability is through the use of a quality set of headers and a performance exhaust system. Headers are designed to replace the stock cast-iron exhaust manifolds and traditionally create more engine horsepower and torque by removing exhaust gases more efficiently than stock systems. A free-flowing exhaust system is also quite beneficial, offering less spent-gas restriction than stock, which means less backpressure.
After searching the aftermarket for a set of proven headers, we came across these offered by Hedman Hedders. The company designs and builds its headers to exacting specifications, using the finest materials while combining functionality, durability, and performance. The kits come with new Hedman gaskets and all necessary mounting hardware. Hedman also offers a lifetime guarantee with all its headers, covering defects in materials and workmanship, including tube cracks and welds.
With the headers in hand, we set out for Muffler Man in Placentia, California, where owner Lee Watts installed a set of HTC-coated headers in our '84 CJ-7 and fabricated a free-flowing exhaust system using a Flowmaster muffler. With the headers and custom exhaust installed on the 258 six-cylinder, the exhaust note was much throatier and the throttle response was rapid. Off-road hill climbs were also addressed, with a steady degree of power funneled through the pipes for increased performance in most situations. The install took a good portion of the day, and we're already enjoying a throatier exhaust note (is that a V-8 under the hood?) and increased horsepower and torque in most driving situations.