Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher Emeritus
5/10/24 9:40 a.m.

Our Elva sports racer arrived incomplete and unassembled. Among the missing parts, an exhaust header for its Coventry Climax engine.

While we saw a few pictures of what this header should look like, actually designing one seemed rather daunting. Never mind designing a header for maximum performance, just making it fit among the chassis’ many tubes seemed rather challenging.

And then we got lucky: A reader who owns the sister car to ours had an original header. Did we want to borrow it?

We now just had to find a pipe bender good enough to do the correctly job. Enter Jack Burns, an old friend who recently retired from Burns Stainless, one of the country’s premier header manufacturers. For a reasonable fee, he said, he could help us.

He first sourced the flanges and tubing from Burns Stainless. Then, working via the photo and some measurements from our chassis, fabricated a replacement header for us.

He made a few improvements, too, to increase durability as well as flow. One of his primary complaints with the original header was the way the two halves were just bolted together. He told us that a spring clamp would still allow the header to come apart for servicing while also original to the era and reducing the likelihood of stress cracks.

Since he built the header remotely, he suggested making the rear pipe mounting tab bigger than it needed to be. We can then cut down the tab and source the appropriate heat-resistant mount.

The new header fits like a dream, perfectly clearing every frame tube. It also looks like a piece of art. 

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