If you’ve followed my site for a while, then you may know that I had almost no interest in upgrading my exhaust. I had even added a resonator to suppress the extra drone that resulted when I upgraded to an APR down pipe. Why the change of heart? Why mess with a good recipe for sound control on my car? When I added the resonator, the installer had to add some 3-inch pipe and a reducer to adapt it to the factory 2.75-inch pipe. His work was not as pretty as I had hoped, but the welds were someplace that almost no one would see. Then a sharp-eyed YouTube viewer noticed a leak at that new weld. That’s when my mind’s wheels began to turn…
Sure, I could have taken the car back for more stick-weld ugliness and perhaps a chance for a new leak. Instead, I decided to pursue an upgrade by Baun Performance, LLC. The proprietor, Jake Baun (aka “GTI Jake” at GolfMk7.com), had caught my attention years ago with his sensible approach to upgrades. He builds exhaust and intercooler systems in his home workshop. I was very tempted by his valved system, which allows drivers to switch between a muffled exhaust and nearly wide-open with the flick of a remote switch. Here’s a photo of that impressive system. My reality is that the switch would be off 99.99% of the time and not worth the $800 upgrade… not for me and my purposes, anyway. I might feel differently if I were to track my car on a regular basis, though.
Instead, I chose his “less aggressive” upgrade, which consists of a Vibrant 17950 resonator, a Borla Pro XS muffler, his expertly-crafted 3-inch food grade 304L stainless steel pipes (non-food grade 304L forward of the axle), and a pair of attractive Jones 4-inch double-wall tips. Jake refers to this setup as his “most adult” system. 😉 He does not maintain an inventory of completed exhaust systems. Everything is paid in advance and built to order. You may recall that I had bonding straps on my stock exhaust in support of my ham radio suite. Not wanting to put clamps on Jake’s beautiful work, I had him add some 3/8″ stainless steel studs in key places so that I could bond the exhaust without using clamps. They turned out great.
Most of Jake’s customers choose to have his products shipped to them. Jake lives about 5-6 hours from me. Like many, I had been itching to hit the road for a trip after months of stay-at-home orders. So, I made a plan to pay him a visit and have him install the system. July 3rd was perfect since it’s a federal holiday that would allow me to make the most of the weekend. He installed the completed exhaust that Friday, which left me the rest of the weekend to drive some legendary roads on my (out of the) way home.
I took the car on a good test drive, including a few bumpy roads to ensure that the exhaust had no rattles or misalignments, as well as a few places where I could put on some speed. I noticed extra volume right away. Admittedly, that was a bit of a turn-off, but it wasn’t enough for me to have buyer’s remorse. The true test of volume was driving in the mountains with my trailer in tow. With the trailer and steep hills, the exhaust drone was a bit much… not unbearable, just undesirable. The drone reduced as I descended from the mountains and drove on flatter roads. And it was even better with the trailer uncoupled. Regardless, the extra exhaust note was tolerable in light of my next observation.
I’ll preface what comes next with the fact that I’m a perpetual skeptic: I had never been a firm believer that catbacks do much to add power. With that said, I was pleasantly surprised to notice more “oomph” during acceleration. At first, I wondered if was a placebo effect or maybe the sense of thrust that comes after pulling a trailer for nearly 400 miles and then disconnecting it. But there was more. I also noticed that my ASR indicator was flashing more than usual… and at higher RPM. Driving with traction control disabled brought out a little more thrust. Jake said that he hadn’t dyno’d the difference, but it’s likely that I had picked up 10-15 hp by opening the exhaust. All I know is that the extra thrust more than makes up for the added exhaust volume.
I mentioned my trailer above. The stock exhaust could have fit in the car, especially the way Jake cut it into strategic sections that are convenient for resale. However, I decided to bring my trailer so that my interior would be clear and quiet for the detour I had planned for my trip home. I’ll share more details about the road trip in a separate entry. I highly recommend Baun Performance! Some may be intimidated by his pricing. But consider the fact that each of his pieces are built to order from high-grade stainless steel parts that are TIG welded and Argon back-purged. Odds are good that this system will outlast the rest of the car. So, save those pennies if you want the good stuff! 😉 See Jake’s complete price list on his FB page, as well as photos of his impressive work. See my video review here.
A Little Louder,