OBX Header Install: Part 1

As I always do at the start of a new year, I have been making a wishlist of things I hope to do to the car this season. After the new wing and valance last year, while I still wouldn’t consider the exterior to be ‘done’, it is certainly well on its way so it’s time to focus on other areas of the car again.

If I had to pinpoint one area that was lacking, I’d have to say it’s the engine. Now, since the car is not a real ST and therefore doesn’t have the 2.0 EcoBoost, my options for modifications here are somewhat limited – but I haven’t exhausted them yet.

With an intake and exhaust already fitted as the power adders one of the next logical steps was to add a header to the mix and the opportunity to do so presented itself recently. As I explained in the post showing my new header, when it popped up for sale here in Alberta I bought it as I was able to avoid duties and didn’t have to pay extra thanks to the poor exchange rate (all the other headers I had seen for sale were from the United States and the CAD/USD exhange rate is just comical at this point).

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And now, we pick up right where Thursday’s post left off! As I mentioned in that post, the first stop was Metro Ford where I picked up a few small parts and also grabbed the photos of the Shelby GT350.

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I know other owners have done the OBX header install at home, but given what I’d read on the forums I wanted to have the car on a hoist for the extra room, and am always happy to support Jackie and his shop – so off I went to Balance Auto.

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When I arrived Jackie was just wrapping up the previous job so I left the Focus outside and took a look at some of his current projects. Some work has taken place on the shop’s Type R Time Attack car and I hope to be able to provide a new update on it before too long!

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There’s Jackie parking wherever he wants, ’cause he’s the boss. Haha

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Shortly after it was the Focus’ turn to come inside so I started it up and brought it around to the open bay.

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After a few attempts it finally cleared the hoist’s arms and it could go up in the air.

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A few extra shots of the header, taken prior to work beginning.

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The seller included a pair of new 90-degree o2 sensor fittings, which were needed due to some space constraints in the engine bay.

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*Sigh* It was clean by winter standards, but still…I miss summer weather.

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Back on topic – here’s the stock header, with the heatshield removed.

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And now it’s gone! I should point out that removing the old header took the vast majority of the time. With the massive cat in the way and the lower mounts for the bottom hanger catching on things constantly, it was putting up a real fight. The car went up and down on the hoist many times as things were loosened or removed to gain clearance.

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In the end, in order to remove the old header the wipers, wiper cowl, header heatshield, felt undertray, lower header bracket, and exhaust brace were all taken off. The rear and passener engine mounts were also undone so the entire engine could be moved forward slightly.

Unrelated – it’s nice how Jackie’s hoist matches my car’s colour scheme, isn’t it? Haha

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This was why I wanted a hoist. With how tight clearances were when removing the old header, having the car on a hoist just made life easier as compared to having it on jackstands and having to crawl under it.

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The old header in all its glory. We didn’t actually toss it in the garbage – I keep my stock parts so it was put in the new header’s box afterwards. In the lower left of the photo is the stock heatshield.

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These gaskets were two of the pieces I picked up at Metro Ford that day (the rest were just some miscellaneous clips and bolts for the hatch). You don’t actually need to replace these but given how inexpensive they are, I decided to throw them in anyway.

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At last it was time for the new header to go in, and it did just that with no fuss whatsoever. After the struggle that was the removal of the old piece, the OBX header slotted right in, in about 5 seconds. Literally, about 5 seconds.

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So much room for activities! If I ever need to remove this header in the future, it truly will be a driveway job and won’t take long at all. With no bulky cat, heatshield, or mounts, a lot of space is freed up in the engine bay and a bit of weight should have been lost too. We didn’t compare the two parts but other owners report around 8 pounds of weight saved.

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With the header fitted, next up was the moment I was really waiting for – the first startup! I made sure to record it to get my initial reaction and that will be part of the video I’ve been putting together showing parts of the install.

Having not heard a Mk3 with an OBX header in person prior to this I wasn’t entirely sure how it’d sound – also keeping in mind I have a slightly unique intake/exhaust combination – but it’s amazing. When just cruising it sounds almost as it did before, with the extra noise only coming in at higher RPMs – and there’s a nice little bark when I blip the throttle on downshifts. I like loud cars but given it’s my daily I don’t want it loud all of the time. I’m pleased to report that it’s still perfectly civilized under normal conditions but can also get quite antisocial when I want it to. It’s exactly what I wanted.

The video that will accompany this is just about ready to share and I’ll update the blog to announce when it has been. I hope that it, as well as this post, will help anyone considering the header for their own Mk3! With this now taken care of, next on my wishlist for the engine is a new tune from Rebel Devil Customs, to take advantage of the new header and account for the extra airflow.




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