Scavenger Pipes

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Larry Ewing of Redwood City, California, installed scavenger pipes on his 1950 Oldsmobile 88 Coupe in 1959. "This was just a few months before I installed the chrome reversed wheels with big and little U.S. Royal Master tires. Going to the San Mateo Autorama and the Oakland Roadster Show at the time, I must have got the idea to do it! Kind of hard to see in the photo, but I tried as a 18-year-old with a Brownie camera!" When Larry got the car back in the mid-80s, he did a similar exhaust and had short turndown pipes coming out of the dual mufflers exiting just before the rear differential. "But it turned out to be annoying while in traffic or cruising slowly at car shows. The exhaust fumes would come up in the car when the windows were down. So I had complete over the axle tailpipes put on exiting at the rear bumper with turn-down tips." Photo courtesy of Larry Ewing.
A rare photo of The Ala Kart taken on the street in Fresno in 1958. The Ala Kart ran four chromed and flared exhaust pipes. According to Howard Gribble, this is a borderline case, as the usually seen scavengers didn't extend all the way to the rear bumper or rolled pan, and they didn't touch it. "They angled down from the muffler." Photo from The Clean Gene Sadoian Photo Collection.
Photos of Ron Aguirre's 1956 Chevrolet Corvette taken in October of 1958 shows it running two Scavenger Pipes. By 1959, two more pipes had been added. Taken late in 1962 or early in 1963, this photo shows that all four pipes were still on the X-Sonic. Another borderline case, according to Howard Gribble. Photo from The Ron Aguirre Photo Collection.
Finding photos of cars with scavenger pipes is hard, but here's a random snapshot that Howard Gribble came across and acquired. "If you look carefully, you can see a couple of scavenger pipes hanging under the car. This is a very typical kid's car of the early 1960s. The owner was Dan, and he was from Compton, according to the info written on the back." Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.
A photo of Dan's Ford that we have adjusted, so the scavenger pipes are more visible. Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.
According to Keith Christensen of Gene's Muffler Shop, scavenger pipes were the rage back in the 1960s. "We installed a massive amount of them at all three of my shops," he told Sondre Kvipt in May of 2022. "First, we had to qualify the type of car as that is a large number of tips to put up under a car. Remember they were in front of the axle and were aimed down slightly, so you could see them from the rear of the car. Next, the installer had to find something to hang them on. Many newer cars were unibody construction with no frame, so we had to build special brackets and hook them to the floorboards of the car. Keep in mind, in front of the scavengers was a muffler, usually a glass pack, and in front of that a head pipe. All suspended on the exhaust manifold outlet. That's a bunch of free weight with multiple tips (scavengers) hooked to the end of it all. This was a famous installation that we called comebacks. As rest assured, after bumping and bouncing down the road, they would shake loose...But boy, they looked great!" Photo from The Keith Christensen Collection.
Tom and Harry Jackman ran eight scavenger pipes on their 1932 Ford Sport Coupe. The El Cajon, California hot rod was built in 1959, and the pipes were installed the same year. Photo courtesy of Chuck Edwall.
A photo of Tom and Harry Jackman's 1932 Ford Sport Coupe taken at the 1960 Renegades Rod & Custom Motorama. The pipes are a central part of Tom and Harry's display. Photo by Bud Lang, courtesy of Car Craft Magazine.
A photo of Memo Ortega's 1952 Oldsmobile 98 taken in 1960. Memo ran four scavengers and two shotguns. "Very popular in Pomona Valley back then," Memo told Sondre. "Shotgun" was the name the kids in Pomona Valley had for Bellflower Pipes. The shop that installed the pipes was in Fontana, "on Sierra Avenue about two blocks south of Foothill Boulevard on the west side." The shotguns were not connected to the exhaust, only the scavengers. Memo got a ticket running the pipes, so he took them off, got the ticket ok'd, and put them back on right away. Photo courtesy of Memo Ortega.
"Night Owl" - One of Howard Gribble's old drawings that feature a custom car with scavenger pipes. Howard recalled that the pipes were occasionally seen in combinations of 4, 6, or even 8. Howard signed this drawing with the "World's Worst Pinstriper." Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.
Another one of Howard's old drawings. He was about 16 years old when he drew this. Keith and his crew built a jig to save time and get the pipes perfectly aligned. "A piece of tubing about 12" across with a single inlet on one side for the exhaust to enter. Then on the opposite side, two or three scavenger pipes attached. All in a perfect row and tilted down a slight bit. This made it quicker and easier to install on most cars. Except, of course, lowriders, no room anywhere underneath... A few hundred installations later and then off to other fads as styles changed...It went on, though, as many applications worked out great!" Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.
According to Keith, one thing that made the scavenger pipes fade out in popularity was "being suspended right under the back seat, the sound was DEAFENING! Like a big bad drum. Hard to talk. Hard to hear the radio or stereo, and a super distraction! But they sure looked good." Photo courtesy of Howard Gribble.
Pete Smythe of Augusta, Maine ran Scavenger Pipes on his 1940 Ford Tudor Sedan in High School in 1961-1962. "Car had a 331 ci Cadillac in it ," Pete told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2022. Photo courtesy of Pete Smythe.
Ray Hudnut of Portland, Oregon installed illuminated scavenger pipes on his Mom's Dodge in the summer of 1962. "Why they never scolded me for that, I don't know," he told Kustomrama in 2022, "but they sure sounded cool...and I figured out how to make that automatic sound like I had a stick to sound even cooler!  ...when I was away from home." The car had a lot of original ground clearance, so the pipes were easy to see during the daytime, but hard to see at night. "So I mounted a pair of red beehive clearance lights under the car to illuminate them. It was a frumpy kind of car for a kid, but it sounded really good...and now it had PIPES!" Photo courtesy of Ray Hudnut.
Chromed Scavenger Exhaust Pipes by Revell. When Revell launched their hot '57 Chevy kit in 1963 it came with chromed Scavenger Pipes. Photo courtesy of Don Sikora II.
Pat Ganahl ran four scavengers on his 1952 Chevrolet custom. Photo courtesy of Motortrend.
Brett Patterson of Calgary, Canada runs four Scavenger Pipes on his 1960 Chevrolet. Late in 2022, Brett told Kustomrama that "for me, scavengers are the coolest, and often missed detail on an early 60's style hot rod or custom." Photo courtesy of Brett Patterson.
Brett Patterson searched for years for "proper" looking scavenger pipes that weren't just tips, "so they would go all the way to the axle. A place called Kool Rides made them for me and they were installed in 2016." Photo courtesy of Brett Patterson.

Scavenger Pipes was a popular custom feature in the early 1960s. Kustomrama contributor Howard Gribble saw a lot of cars running these in the Torrance area when he was in high school. "These simply came straight out of the back of the muffler and UNDER the rear axle," he told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama early in 2022. According to Howard, the pipes ended somewhere short of the rear bumper. "Most were flared at the end. One for each side but occasionally seen in combinations of 4, 6, or even 8. Of course, the flairs soon flattened on the bottoms from dragging on driveway entrances. This was very popular around here but seldom, if ever, seen in the magazines." Pictures showing scavenger pipes on customs are very rare, but Howard has some old drawings he did back in high school that show scavenger pipes. According to Howard, "they quickly died out about 1962. The HAMB has had some discussion of the subject, but I haven't seen pics." Memo Ortega recalled that the fad reached out to the Inland Empire (Pomona) and probably at least all of the LA area. "The pipes were almost always flared at the tips," according to him.[1]


Gene's Muffler Shop Installed a Massive Amount of Scavenger Pipes

According to Keith Christensen of Gene's Muffler Shop, scavenger pipes were the rage back in the 1960s. "We installed a massive amount of them at all three of my shops," he told Sondre Kvipt in May of 2022. "First, we had to qualify the type of car as that is a large number of tips to put up under a car. Remember they were in front of the axle and were aimed down slightly, so you could see them from the rear of the car. Next, the installer had to find something to hang them on. Many newer cars were unibody construction with no frame, so we had to build special brackets and hook them to the floorboards of the car. Keep in mind, in front of the scavengers was a muffler, usually a glass pack, and in front of that a head pipe. All suspended on the exhaust manifold outlet. That's a bunch of free weight with multiple tips (scavengers) hooked to the end of it all. This was a famous installation that we called comebacks. As rest assured, after bumping and bouncing down the road, they would shake loose...But boy, they looked great!"[2]


Hanger Pipes

"We called them hanger pipes here in the San Diego area," Butch Engelbrecht told Sondre in September of 2022. According to Butch, Jack's Muffler and Dualtone Muffler were the primary installers. "Mostly, the chevy guys put more than two pipes on their cars. I remember an impala with eight. Flattened them out on the bottom immediately." Butch ran a 57 Ford with two pipes around 1961-62, "4-5 feet long as I remember."[3]


Illuminated Scavengers

Ray Hudnut of Portland, Oregon installed illuminated scavenger pipes on his Mom's Dodge in the summer of 1962. "Why they never scolded me for that, I don't know," he told Sondre Kvipt in 2022, "but they sure sounded cool...and I figured out how to make that automatic sound like I had a stick to sound even cooler!  ...when I was away from home." The car had a lot of original ground clearance, so the pipes were easy to see during the daytime, but hard to see at night. "So I mounted a pair of red beehive clearance lights under the car to illuminate them. It was a frumpy kind of car for a kid, but it sounded really good...and now it had PIPES!"[4]


Coast to Coast

Scavenger pipes were also hot on the East Coast, and Ed Mucha of Connecticut ran scavengers on two cars back in the early 1960s. "One was a 1937 Ford Coupe running a bored, cammed, and dual quad carbs-modified 1950 Olds V-8. The pipes exited two "Thrush" mufflers which were fed off the Collectors. The pipes ended just beyond the 50 Olds rear axle." The second car was a 1950 Olds 88 Coupe, which he put through several evolutions. "It was originally powered by a 1957 Olds J-2 engine with an Engle cam. I drag-raced for about two years in the B/MP class, but it was a tad too heavy against lighter Chevy-powered cars. In its last mode, I ran a 1963 Olds Starfire 394 engine, Vitar Hydro-stick trans, and a 1958 Olds positraction rear w/3.90 gears. For exhaust, I custom-built a set of exotic headers which ran equal-length pipes from heads and were tuned for the exhaust pulses. Pipes ran two into one, so I had four pipes coming down under the car, all equal length, into four "Hush Thrush" mufflers with four exhaust pipes running about 12" beyond the rear axle. I figured that the four-pipe system would really reduce back pressure so the engine would wind up quicker. What I got was, for reasons I still can't figure except it might be related to less back pressure in the mufflers, was a really LOUD car. It was quick, but it attracted attention."[5]


A Super Distraction and the End of the Shortlived Fad

According to Keith, one thing that made the scavenger pipes fade out in popularity was "being suspended right under the back seat, the sound was DEAFENING! Like a big bad drum. Hard to talk. Hard to hear the radio or stereo, and a super distraction! But they sure looked good." Keith and his crew built a jig to save time and get the pipes perfectly aligned. "A piece of tubing about 12" across with a single inlet on one side for the exhaust to enter. Then on the opposite side, two or three scavenger pipes attached. All in a perfect row and tilted down a slight bit. This made it quicker and easier to install on most cars. Except, of course, lowriders, no room anywhere underneath... A few hundred installations later and then off to other fads as styles changed...It went on, though, as many applications worked out great!"


References




 

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