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Everything You Need To Know About Hooker Small-Block Chevrolet Exhaust Manifolds

By: Todd Ryden | 07/13/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home

One of the first steps that is taken in the name of increasing engine performance has always been to bolt on a set of tubular headers. Factory exhaust manifolds were generally designed as an exercise in packaging, cost efficiency and keeping under-hood noise and heat at a minimum at the expense of efficient exhaust gas flow and power. Over the years, thousands of heavy, restrictive manifolds have been tossed aside in favor of a set of headers.


If you’re racing or and want to get every little bit of power out of your engine, headers should still be a part of your build plan. However, when you’re building a weekend cruiser or road trip machine, there are a number of benefits to running a set of performance designed exhaust manifolds, such as Hooker’s new cast iron small-block Chevy manifolds. That’s right, even the header gurus at Hooker understand that a set of tubular headers aren’t for everyone, so they took their exhaust flow experience and designed a fresh set of manifolds for the small-block Chevy that would meet their expectations for performance and fitment – with great results!


Surprisingly, the small-block Chevy wasn’t the first model for their new manifolds, it was the LS engine. “In 2011, Hooker developed a cast iron manifold for LS engines to ease LS swaps,” explained Mark Emerson, of Hooker. “Hooker offers a long line of LS swap headers, even for Mustangs, but the manifolds provided a more versatile solution for LS swaps so we developed a compact, high-flowing set for the LS platform. With their popularity, we recognized that there was a need for a high quality, good looking manifold for the small-block Chevy.”

Hooker went back to the drawing board to design a versatile cast iron SBC manifold that would still offer high flow for today’s performance engines. One important piece of the puzzle was to develop a manifold that can would work with a number of small-block heads. There used to be basically one exhaust port, but now there are also raised D-port heads, not to mention a number of different spark plug location designs. The engineers were able to design a manifold form that works with all the different straight and angle plug locations in two port designs; the standard square port as well as raised D-port heads.


“The new manifolds are proving very popular, as not every application needs headers,” Emerson said. “The manifolds are much easier to install and their compact design fits a lot more applications. Not to mention, they deliver a clean visual upgrade over stock manifolds.”


The new manifolds are cast from a high silicon-molybdenum ductile iron which offers high temp strength with greater resistance to oxidation and cracking. Each assembly was designed to be compact and hug the engine block for the most clearance. The smooth-look housings feature a 1 5/8” cross sectional area to promote very good flow out to a 2.5” outlet flange. Speaking of appearances, the manifolds are available in a silver, black and a titanium ceramic finish if you want to step up from a natural look.

The driver side manifold is designed to hug the block and provide clearance for the steering shaft and oil filter access, with the exit pointing straight down. The passenger side exit is angled allowing for the downpipe to easily clear a modern automatic trans, the fill tube and the chassis of most applications.


To help finish the job right, Hooker supplies weld-on flanges for the downpipe so the pipe mates to the exhaust securely with no chance of pesky exhaust leaks. The added diameter to the collector and ports provide much better exhaust flow compared to any factory manifold making these ideal for any number of street combinations.


Hooker Turbo LS manifold

Looking for a budget minded solution for your single turbo LS engine? Hooker offers their Blackheart LS Manifolds with a turbo outlet!


Emerson did point out that the Hooker manifolds are great for many street cars, but even they have their limit. “As far as a horsepower limit, it’s tough to say, but as a rule of thumb if you’re pushing 550 horsepower and over, it’s best to go with a set of headers. You’re definitely leaving something on the table with cast iron manifolds at that power level.”


Whether you have 300 or 500 horsepower, a set of Hooker’s new exhaust manifolds may be just what you need to start a simple, clean and effective exhaust system. Stock muscle car heads or angle-plug Vortech models are all covered and Hooker even supplies the hardware and gaskets to finish the job done right. Hooker Headers offering cast iron manifolds – who would have seen that coming!

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