A few years back Volkswagen debuted a 900-horsepower Passat converted to rear-wheel drive with a Chevy V8 to run in Formula Drift. It seemed like sacrilege, at least until the moment we heard the yowl of its 8-into-1 exhaust.
I always wondered why, exactly, the car had such a bizarre exhaust setup. Certainly it doesn’t look easy to make such a bundle of snakes, at least not as easy as making a set of dump pipes or something.
The car’s in the hands of former Formula Drift champion Tanner Foust, not sponsors Volkswagen or Rockstar Energy, or even the car’s builder Papadakis Racing. He took it out to Hoonigan, and gave the lowdown on why the car has this bed of tubes.
Basically, Formula Drift doesn’t allow you to heavily modify the car’s existing firewall, the metal that separates the cabin from the engine compartment. Trying to shoehorn the car’s big LS7 V8 as far back into an engine bay designed for little fours and sixes (moving the engine farther back means better weight distribution and handling) meant that there was no room behind the engine for the exhaust to go. Cylinders seven and eight were pretty much bumping into the firewall as it was.
So Papadakis Racing routed the exhaust forward, all coming together into a single collector. Apparently a guy came in with a stack of pipe one day and 12 hours later the team had its exhaust.
The wild sound, according to Foust, is thanks to hearing each individual firing from the eight cylinders.
It’s funny how little restrictions like these produce some of the most exciting results when it comes to race car design. Air inlet restrictors making cheater turbos, firewall limitations giving us a V8 exhaust that would make Subaru fanboys cry. Maybe a total free-for-all isn’t the best way to make neat race cars.