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  1. #1
    Member
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    Corvette(s)
    1981 Hardtop Midnight Blue

    Default What can I get rid of?

    I am the very proud new owner of a beautiful 1981 Vette and I have now reached that point in which I want my baby to go just a little faster and to look a little nicer under the hood. So, my question to "the board" is, what can I remove from under the hood (other than ac) that will either boost my power or will make the engine compartment look nicer. Personally, the look of the engine is a little more important to me at this point, and the maze of tubes and wires is not only detracting from the look of the compartment, but it is also more than a little frustrating. I appreciate all help and hope to hear from you all soon.

    P.S. As far I know, this car is completely stock, so it has everything that it originally came with.

  2. #2
    Member Sensei's Avatar
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    '81 dark blue

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    Get rid of the stock exhaust and replace it with a good set of headers , 2 1/2" duals and free flowing mufflers. Take out the smog pump. This by itself will noticeably improve both power and fuel efficiency, and I believe it also reduces pollution. It will also clean up the engine compartment nicely.

    Removing the EGR does not do much looks or performance wise.

    You may be tempted to remove the evap canister with it's "Medussa's head" of vacuum hoses, but don't. It will not help performance any and will actually cause heat soak starting problems. Also, it actually cuts down pollution by trapping and re-using fuel vapors.

    God bless, Sensei

  3. #3
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    1981 Hardtop Midnight Blue

    Default

    Thank you Sensei,

    That is great information! I will definitely get on the smog pump as soon as I can. I have to figure out all the connections and how to properly block them. As for the exhaust, do you have any recommendations? I need something nice but inexpensive. Im not looking for 500 HP, I just want to let a few more of those horses out of the stable. Thanks again!!

  4. #4
    Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Corvette(s)
    '81 dark blue

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    I got a set of ceramic coated shorty headers on Ebay for around $135 and put them on myself. The driver's side one had to be slightly "massaged" at the collector to clear the motor mount. I got a pair of Summit turbo mufflers for about $20 each. They look stock and have a mellow rumble that is not too loud in the cockpit. I had a local mom and pop muffler shop that is known for quality hot rod work fab a set of 2 1/2" duals for $125. This was almost five years ago. The headers still look like they did the day I installed them and the whole system is still good as new, all for around $300.

    God bless, Sensei

  5. #5
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    Member Vettehead Mikey's Avatar
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    Corvette(s)
    1973 Coupe

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    Contrary to myth, a smog pump set up only uses about 1 HP to operate. it is not the great evil beast it's made out to be. An EGR requires no power to operate and carries no performance penalty.

    Your engine is typical of late 70s and early 80's low compression set ups to meet the lack of high octane no lead fuel (at the time) and new pollution regs.

    Swapping exhaust will help, but you need to look at new heads, and a more aggressive cam to get some serious power.

  6. #6
    Member Sensei's Avatar
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    '81 dark blue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vettehead Mikey View Post
    Contrary to myth, a smog pump set up only uses about 1 HP to operate. it is not the great evil beast it's made out to be. An EGR requires no power to operate and carries no performance penalty.
    While I agree that you may not see any noticeable gain in power by removing these and EGR may actually reduce pollutants by lowering combustion chamber temperatures, I have to make a couple of comments here anyway.

    1. I don't know how many HP it takes to actually turn the smog pump, but the system itself is BAD! You notice they do not inject air into the exhaust on new vehicles anymore. It was all just a way for automakers to comply with federal regulations on pollution measured by percentages of pollutants in the exhaust. It never worked as described (completing the combustion of unburned fuel in the exhaust), it just added air to dilute the % of whatever was measured at the tailpipe. It was all a lie and it actually causes pollution. It was the reason gas mileage dropped like a stone on pollution controlled vehicles during this period. It is an intentional exhaust leak that kills performance and fuel economy. GET RID OF IT!

    2. EGR requires no HP to run and may reduce pollutants, but you can not achieve peak horsepower when the engine is eating its own waste.

    God bless, Sensei

  7. #7
    Member 6880 Mike's Avatar
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    Corvette(s)
    1968 convertible; 1980 L-82

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jpburks View Post
    ...P.S. As far I know, this car is completely stock, so it has everything that it originally came with....
    Leave her that way. If she's managed to stay unmolested all this time, she has a right to survive.

    There are less and less unmolested originals every day.



  8. #8
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    Member Vettehead Mikey's Avatar
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    1973 Coupe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    While I agree that you may not see any noticeable gain in power by removing these and EGR may actually reduce pollutants by lowering combustion chamber temperatures, I have to make a couple of comments here anyway.

    1. I don't know how many HP it takes to actually turn the smog pump, but the system itself is BAD! You notice they do not inject air into the exhaust on new vehicles anymore. It was all just a way for automakers to comply with federal regulations on pollution measured by percentages of pollutants in the exhaust. It never worked as described (completing the combustion of unburned fuel in the exhaust), it just added air to dilute the % of whatever was measured at the tailpipe. It was all a lie and it actually causes pollution. It was the reason gas mileage dropped like a stone on pollution controlled vehicles during this period. It is an intentional exhaust leak that kills performance and fuel economy. GET RID OF IT!

    2. EGR requires no HP to run and may reduce pollutants, but you can not achieve peak horsepower when the engine is eating its own waste.

    God bless, Sensei
    I think your understanding of each system is slightly incorrect, but please believe what you want. As I said, it's not the great evil beast of myth and legend.

    1. AIR pump. I'll cheat and post a link from wikipedia which gives an accurate summary:
    Secondary air injection - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    2. The EGR system is vacuum controlled and is out of the loop during low vacuum situations, like WOT.


  9. #9
    geekinavette's Avatar
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    Corvette(s)
    84 Z51 auto R.I.P. Current 89 black roadster

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vettehead Mikey View Post
    I think your understanding of each system is slightly incorrect, but please believe what you want. As I said, it's not the great evil beast of myth and legend.
    Agreed.

    Maybe all of that was true when first introduced...but by '81 that was not the case.

    I tend to go with 6880 Mike....leave her alone.

  10. #10
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    My simple thinking. Unburned fuel will not burn by injecting fresh (cold) air, but when polution is measured by volume, injecting air will increse the volume and then reducing the polution. Just my thought.

    My idea, do what you want with it.

    Groeten Peter

  11. #11
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    Member Vettehead Mikey's Avatar
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    The actual volume of air that's injected is very small, but it's sufficient to allow hot unburnt vapours to re-ignite and complete enough of the combustion process to pass emission regs. The volume of air injected is not enough to dilute the total air mass to achieve this. Such a cheap trick wouldn't fool anybody anyways

  12. #12
    Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Corvette(s)
    '81 dark blue

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vettehead Mikey View Post
    The actual volume of air that's injected is very small, but it's sufficient to allow hot unburnt vapours to re-ignite and complete enough of the combustion process to pass emission regs. The volume of air injected is not enough to dilute the total air mass to achieve this. Such a cheap trick wouldn't fool anybody anyways
    And Obama is not a socialist!

  13. #13
    Member black_81_vette's Avatar
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    Corvette(s)
    black 81 corvette 4-speed

    Default

    I look at this way its your car do with it as you please. Dont throw away anything! But im like you a stock 81 vette will get chewed up and spit out by just about anything with wheels on it nowadays. And I cant stand driving around in a car that looks fast but has to cower and hide when a srt neon or a minivan pulls along side. Do the exhaust first and then and this may depend on your emissions testing or lack of it,change over to a non computor controlled carb and distributor.Truthfull with about 500 dollars you could gain almost 100hp by changing the the cam and doing the before mentioned mods.A few hundred more for good heads and you could make a easy 350 to 400 hp and still be streatable and hold your own if and when you need to.Sure stock is nice and all but we dont have a ton of power to start with and anything you do is going to help.

  14. #14
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    Corvette(s)
    81 white, 355 ci, rhs heads,voodoo cam=fun

    Default

    When I bought this 81 it had all the original equipment on a non matching engine. Air pump complete with broken mounting brackets, exhaust manifold complete with bad welds, electronic q jet complete with external fuel leaks. The car ran ok but by the time I added all the cost for vac hoses, failed sensors, carb overhaul ect., Ive still got a engine that cant be tuned for performance. To date the pcv and evap can is all thats left and Im not regetting the swap. Engine runs much better and the magnaflow mufflers scare of the ricers. Cam and heads to come this winter

  15. #15
    Member Sensei's Avatar
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    '81 dark blue

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    Quote Originally Posted by spikebot 81 View Post
    by the time I added all the cost for vac hoses, failed sensors, carb overhaul ect., Ive still got a engine that cant be tuned for performance.
    The cam, heads and exhaust on the '81 were the performance killers, not the carburetor and sensors. I'm in the 350-400 hp range with stock carb, distibutor and computer control.

    God bless, Sensei

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