Installing a Chambered Exhaust
System on a ‘69 SS 396

A very rare and very cool option was available for 1969 Chevelles and Camaros. Checking off RPO NC8 gave you a “Chambered Exhaust System“, which essentially was a straight through exhaust system. No mufflers! Only special-crimped pipes and resonator tail pipes made up this exhaust system. A golf ball could be rolled inside from one end to the other. Because of the many complaints from state motor vehicle administrations, due to the increased noise it produced, GM discontinued this as a regular option and offered it as an “over the counter“ accessory.

A quick call to Eric Gardner at Gardner Exhaust Systems, Inc. out of Rhinebeck, NY and, bam, here’s what you get! Both front pipes, both chambered pipes, both resonator tail pipes and all hardware. I opted for the Concours Show Package, which gives you plated hangars and hardware. All pipes are fully aluminized and fit great!

Gardner Exhaust Systems also offers GM tail pipe extensions for the finishing touch at a great price. Inside the packaging, you will find everything you need to complete your installation, including instructions and diagrams. Some words of advice; take your time, and get an assembly manual for your particular year Chevelle. I found important and helpful measurements in mine that made the installation much easier than consulting the supplied instructions.

The first procedure is to remove the old exhaust system by any means you can. Be careful with the exhaust manifold bolts. If they’re old, they’ll easily break! The next procedure is to install the new hangars. The hangars from Gardner Exhaust Systems are correct reproductions that fit, function, and appear as the originals did. All bolts and hardware are supplied.

After the hangars are installed, it’s time to hang some pipe. This is where the factory assembly manuals come in handy. They give precise measurements on pipe clearance and placement in relation to the frame and floor board. Another word of advice is to check and double-check the measurements and pipe placement!

Once you are SURE everything is properly positioned, it’s time to tighten all the clamps and hardware. Start from the front pipes and tighten the exhaust manifold bolts, then proceed to the next clamps. These are heavy gauge aluminized pipes, so be prepared to exert some force! You will end up at the tail pipe extensions. Find someone to stand behind the car to make sure the extensions are properly positioned and straight.

P>Once your installation is completed, lower your Chevelle and fire it up! This chambered system makes my big block sound GREAT! And I do notice a performance improvement in acceleration and a smoother idle. Aside from those improvements, it just looks great under the car!

Gardner Exhaust Systems reproduces exhaust systems for other Chevelles as well, using factory originals as guidelines. You can be assured it will fit and function as the originals did. Eric and Tom Gardner take pride in their products and they are there for you every step of the way. Call them at (514) 876-8117 or visit their web site at

Rick Eckenrode (# 015)

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