Head Games

A simple solution still has benefits in a high tech world

Andy Bolig - September 09, 2011 09:00 AM


1 Building a Better HEMI 2 Performance Carb Tuning Tips 3 Heater Controls Correction 4 Super Shifter Install

Image 1 of 1

EVERYONE is looking to get better performance out of their cars, even the auto manufacturers. While they do have much more stringent concerns than aftermarket manufacturers or owners of the cars, they can also benefit from having a better performing engine in each of their cars. Although better performing might noT NECESSARILY mean more horsepower.

Starting on the 2012 Camaro’s 3.6L V-6, the General has redesigned the casting for the heads that reside atop the block. While recent inventions like direct injection and other technologies abound throughout many of the engines that GM builds nowadays, one change that has brought a varied assembly of benefits is actually quite low-tech.

Starting with 2012, the V-6’s head will also be cast to include the exhaust manifold as part of the casting, eliminating a separate manifold and its requisite bolts and gaskets. While this may not bode well for header manufacturers in the future, GM is touting many benefits to this simple omission of manifolding.

One of the largest benefactors of the switch is the decreased weight of the engine. Increasing performance is as much about what you can remove (weight) as it is what you engineer in (horsepower). While manufacturers are constantly searching for ways to remove ounces from their autos, this simple changeover has the ability to cut approximately 13 pounds from a car’s gravitational pull. That’s significant. GM was also quick to point out that with the change, exhaust airflow was improved by 10 percent, and combined with the additional improvements in the intake tract, another 11 horses reside under the hood of the new Camaro.

Engineering types will also enjoy the fact that since there isn’t an additional manifold anymore, the catalytic converters can be located closer to the exhaust port, therefore allowing them to heat up to their useful state sooner, increasing fuel mileage and cleaner air out the tailpipe. It also decreases engine noise (albeit only by one decibel), and since there isn’t a need to hang a manifold off the side(s) of the engine, the overall package has been made slightly narrower than the old version.

Engineering and building a car in today’s minefield of economics, legalities, regulations and technologies has become very sophisticated and technical. Refinements have become rather complex and a lot of effort can go into almost unperceivable improvements. With everyone focusing on high tech ways of improving our rides, it is refreshing to know at least someone in that room of highly trained engineers can still find solutions by using a slide rule instead of a super computer.