Not long ago, the hot ticket to bolt-on performance for your truck was to add an open-element air cleaner and dual exhaust system. The increased airflow both in and out of the motor was usually good for roughly 10-30 hp, depending on the size of the carburetor.
While the "more air in/more air out" theory is still valid to a certain extent, the mechanics of it have changed. The introduction of computer-controlled engines and catalytic converters have virtually eliminated real dual exhausts from the factory, so most trucks are made with a single in/single out exhaust system, including the new Dodge Hemi Ram.
That's not to say someone can't go down to a muffler shop and cut up the stock system to make it a true dual exhaust setup, complete with a second catalytic converter. Unfortunately, this approach has some drawbacks, including being illegal in several states. The other drawback is that today's fuel-injected engines require a certain amount of backpressure for low-end throttle response and torque. Eliminating nearly all the backpressure usually kills low-end torque and often makes the truck run worse than it did in stock trim.
Designing an exhaust system that is compatible with today's EFI engines, while still making gains in horsepower and torque, is the challenge most aftermarket exhaust companies face today. The old dual exhaust systems of yesteryear have given way to more precisely engineered setups that use a single high-flow muffler. But what about the enthusiasts looking for that real dual exhaust look and sound?
Billy Boat Performance Exhaust of Phoenix has recently developed a stainless-steel exhaust system for the new Dodge Hemi Ram that provides the look and sound of a true dual exhaust system. Made from 100 percent T304 stainless steel, the Hemi Ram system uses 3-inch mandrel-bent tubing with dual rear exits on either side of the factory spare tire. The system is capped with twin 4-inch elliptical tips on each side.
B&B also offers a side exit system for the Hemi Ram with twin 3-inch round tips that exit in the stock location on the passenger side. Both systems feature a simple bolt-on installation and use the stock exhaust hangers.
We brought a stone-stock '03 Dodge Ram Hemi four-door to B&B's state-of-the-art facility in Phoenix for an installation of the company's new Hemi system and subsequent dyno testing. The first order of business was to get a stock baseline on the truck. With just a little more than 2,000 miles on the odometer, the Dodge cranked out 255 rear-wheel horsepower and 298 lb-ft of torque.
From the climate-controlled dyno room, the truck was wheeled over to the installation bay. Getting the old system off the truck was the most difficult part of the install. Since this truck had a roll pan instead of a bumper, the rear tailpipes had to be shortened a tad for the proper fit.
With the new system in place, we decided to allow plenty of time for the truck's computer to "learn" the change and drove it a few days before putting it back on the dyno. After several pulls, the truck averaged 264 rear-wheel horsepower and a whopping 325.4 lb-ft of torque. That's a gain of 9 hp and 27 lb-ft of torque.
While on the horsepower side, 9 hp may not seem like much, 27 lb-ft of torque is substantial for an after-cat system. Also keep in mind that the stock system is basically a 3-inch mandrel-bent setup, which doesn't leave a lot on the table in terms of power gains.
Best of all, the truck has an incredible sound, and the dual-exit rear system looks awesome poking out from under the full steel roll pan. If you're in the market for some cool duals for your Dodge, check into B&B's new stainless system for the Hemi Ram.
Better Breathing Since we opened up things on the exhaust side of the Hemi, it was only fitting that we improved the breathing on the intake side of the system as well. The easiest way to improve intake airflow is through the installation of a performance air filter.
The folks at Airaid Performance Filters in Scottsdale, Arizona, were only too happy to give us one of their new drop-in replacement filters for the Hemi. Airaid Premium Filters use 4+1 SynthaFlow filter technology for improved filtration and improved airflow compared with the stock paper element.
On the dyno, the filter alone was good for an additional 3 hp. Installation is a simple R&R deal anyone can accomplish.