Close this search box.

Precision pipework: the art of custom headers

3 May 2017

Few functional performance parts can match the sheer visual appeal of a properly crafted set of headers. And when it comes to custom header fabrication, few can match the skill possessed by Mike Sinclair and the team at Sinco in maximizing both function and form.

This is apparent in the highly competitive Altherm Jetsprint Team race boat, powered by a Head Race Engines–built twin-turbo small block making close to 1400hp. Despite possessing the ability to build a durable bottom end for use in very harsh conditions, the pipework was farmed out to the Sinco team. Not only does it look like nothing else out there, but it performs, with the team managing to claim top spot at round five of the Altherm Window Systems Jet Sprint Champs on April 1.

“I’ve been working with Mike for a couple of years now with a few different projects,” boat driver and engine builder Glen Head says. “The latest project was the 321 stainless turbo manifolds for the Altherm boat. We started from scratch with everything from manifolds to intake pipework, and the main focus was to save weight and further improve turbo response. We achieved everything we set out to with this project and Mike’s workmanship totally compliments the entire package. From an engine builder’s point of view, Mike is awesome to work with — he has the ability to think outside the box and incorporate certain design aspect into a job, and his standard of workmanship is second to none.”

Looks are one thing, but power is where it’s at, and this month we were fortunate enough for Mike to give us an up-close look at what is involved in fabricating a set of custom headers. Mike Ellis’s XA Falcon coupe has been built to compete in the Central Muscle Cars series, although it hasn’t been raced for a few seasons, and is powered by a worked Cleveland V8 producing substantial horsepower. However, with the intrusive strut towers taking up valuable engine bay room, the exhaust set-up quickly became a major restriction in his quest for more power. 

The Sinco team were given a brief to create a pair of equal-length four-into-one stepped headers that would clear the factory strut towers and steering box, while also providing sufficient breathing room for the starter motor and spark plug boots.

As you can see by these photos, they have certainly achieved in creating something beautiful, but these works of tubular art also work! To see just what kind of work is involved in turning a pile of tubing into what you see here, grab yourself a copy of the next issue of NZV8 magazine, on sale May 8.