Wes Duenkel
February 12, 2016
Contributers: Blane Burnett

To say Hooker Headers has been around a while is an understatement. Gary Hooker made his first set of headers in 1962 for his 409 Chevrolet, and Hooker Headers hasn’t stopped since. Hooker Headers recently launched their BlackHeart Speed Exhaust line of products aimed at the late-model crowd. The offerings cover the complete exhaust system, from exhaust port to exhaust tip. They feature hand-welded 304 stainless steel construction, lightweight 18-gauge tubing, merge collectors, and polished mufflers and tips.

For Ford’s new S550 Mustang GT platform, Hooker BlackHeart offers a wide range of options, including long-tube headers (with 1 3/4- or 1 7/8-inch primaries), and header-back, cat-back, and axle-back exhaust systems—all with or without mufflers.

We took a trip to Hooker Headers’ R&D facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to follow the installation and testing of their Blackheart race only system on Hooker’s in-house 2015 Mustang GT. We were impressed with the fit, finish, and straightforward installation. Not only did the BlackHeart Speed exhaust add over 35 rwhp and 23 lb-ft of torque, but it also shed 20 pounds of weight over the OEM system!

Check out the above video to see the Mustang in this article in action at the track

1. Our installation and testing included Hooker’s 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers. They feature 18-gauge, mandrel-bent 304 sztainless steel primary tubes and a 3-inch merge collector, 3/8-inch thick laser-cut flanges, and hand-welded construction.

2. To match the headers, we installed Hooker’s 3-inch stainless exhaust system, which features polished stainless mufflers and laser-etched polished tips.

3. We began installation by removing the negative battery cable.

4. To speed installation and photos, we worked with the car on a lift, but there’s no reason you couldn’t install this system in your driveway with the car on jackstands.

5. First thing to go was the OEM exhaust system from the manifolds to the rear bumper cover.

6. Before tossing the OEM exhaust aside, we salvaged the oxygen sensors.

7. We removed the steering shaft for more working room.

8. Before we removed the engine mounts, we supported the engine with a pole jack.

9. Next, we removed the motor mounts.

10. To increase working room, we removed the starter.

11. With the motor mounts out of the way, it was easy to remove the OEM exhaust manifolds.

12. Before scrapping the OEM exhaust parts, we piled them on a scale to weigh them.

13. To see how much weight the BlackHeart exhaust system saved, we weighed the headers and exhaust system. The difference was over 20 pounds!

14. We began installation by plugging the oxygen sensor extensions into the OEM harness.

15. The left side header was the first to be installed. Lowering the car back to the ground allowed us to reach some of the bolts more easily.

16. With the left side finished, we installed the right-side header.

17. Next, we reinstalled the steering shaft.

18. Reinstalling the motor mounts was next.

19. The BlackHeart headers tuck up nicely for maximum ground clearance.

20. There is also plenty of space between the steering shaft and the left-side primary tubes.

21. With the headers installed, we moved onto the rest of the BlackHeart exhaust system. First, we transferred the OEM exhaust hangers and brackets to the car.

22. We loosely installed the header adapter pipes to the header collectors.

23. Then we installed the oxygen sensors into the header collectors.

24. We worked rearward by installing the X-pipe and mid-pipes in the OEM hangers and loosely installing the clamps.

25. Then we installed the mufflers and got everything lined up.

26. The BlackHeart exhaust system utilized the OEM hangers perfectly, which made installation a breeze.

27. Finally, we tightened all the clamps, reconnected the battery, and went for a test drive.