(Images: Andrew P. Collins)

Every car with an engine has an exhaust pipe. Some are prettier than others, but who cares? I certainly didn’t, until I looked closely and realized, hey, a little sliver of chrome goes a long way to making a car’s backside look good.

Before you buckle up for my meandering screed here, let me take you back to roundabouts 2005. A buddy of mine had just bought a used Dodge Stealth. Base, front-drive, automatic, because of course it was. I thought I was much hotter shit with my salvage-title Integra LS, and my other friend with a 2000 EM1 Honda Civic Si was basically the king of our little jalopy club.

Mr. Si and me both had A’PEXi N1 cat-back exhausts on our otherwise-stock Hondas because we believed every horsepower claim we saw in magazine ads and, I’ll own the truth here, we were creepily enamored with the notion of having the largest-diameter muffler available from a cool brand.

Suffice it to say, we were the assholes on wheels that I now go out of my way to avoid. Anyway, the Dodge Stealth guy went another route with his exhaust. He just added OEM-style chrome tips to the bare exit pipes poking out of his muffler. You can still buy these at pretty much any auto parts store; they just get squeezed over pipes and screwed in from the side.

I used to sneer at these and those who installed them.

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“What an idiot,” we (cool) young dudes would say. “Why would you put that chrome crap on your car that doesn’t even make it louder?”

I really feel like I’m pouring my soul out here, by the way, so I hope you’re appreciating the honesty about my shameful past.

In case the irony is lost on you, obviously we A’PEXi bros were the hypocritical dummies wasting money on decorative garbage. An N1 is a beautifully made piece of equipment, but any practical benefit of putting one on a small naturally-aspirated engine with no intake or internal modifications is drowned out, literally, by the horrendous noise as so-equipped car makes.

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We ended up crashing our cars into each other a few weeks later and moving on to other machines.

Don’t worry, I had a point and we’re arriving at it... now. I hadn’t thought much about exhaust tips since the Stealth incident until last year, when I started noticing just how many car companies have wild ones from the factory, often integrated into the rear bumper, and often not attached to the exhaust pipe at all.

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Take the Mercedes GLS63, for example. Those quad-chrome bits are just part of the bumper. The actual exhaust exit is a naked pipe that terminates a few inches ahead of the decorative “tips,” which are really just holes.

But I didn’t really see the godly light and glory of exhaust tips until I adopted the $100 Nissan 300ZX. This car has what I would describe as a regular-ass muffler with two protruding pipes from which exhaust gasses emanate.

And basically, it’s taken me 15 years and now about 500 words to say: you know what, a couple chrome tips on there would really look nice.

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The bare pipes back there look like something off a piece of agricultural equipment. The look is fine on my spray-painted Scout, but now that I notice it, it seems like a huge eyesore on the Z.

So what I’m saying is, I seek salvation, and to be absolve myself of years of irrational tip-hating. Exhaust tips fine. Exhaust tips good, even. Just, for the love of god, don’t get one that lights up.

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Clothe the tips!