Camaro ZL1 VR Tuned ECU Flash & Stainless Works Exhaust + Headers

The Camaro ZL1 has been a definite favorite amongst the American muscle fan base. Boasting a huge supercharged 6.2L LT4 engine made from Chevrolet, this American masterpiece pushes 650 horsepower straight from the factory with 650ft/lbs of torque. With all that power going to the rear wheels and an optional 6-speed manual gearbox, you can only imagine the fun that’s to be had. With that being said, not only is the ZL1 an incredible car on the street, being able to hit 60mph from a dead stop within 3.5 seconds. It also performs really well on the track. The added wing, air deflectors, and dive planes help keep the car stuck to the track, giving you the ability to really hit those corners well while keeping your laps times down. 


While the ZL1 1LE is already an amazingly quick muscle car, there will never not be the itch to start modifying the car the second you drive it off the lot. What modifications should you start with? While many car enthusiasts recommend going straight for a set of new wheels, an exhaust system, or even long tube headers, we would have to disagree. After all, why not do long tube headers, exhaust, and a new tune all at once? We did exactly that. We took a stock ZL1 and installed some Stainless Works headers along with their exhaust system. Stainless Works is also 100% American-made and they even roll their own mufflers.


Before we discuss the installation of any new parts or tunes, we first ran the ZL1 on our Mustang Dyno here at Vivid HQ to get some good baseline runs. Please keep in mind that it was around 95 degrees, and we ran it on 91 octane, so the environment wasn’t exactly on our side. We ended up getting a baseline reading of 514hp to the wheels, and  552ft/lbs of torque. 


Luckily for us, this specific exhaust comes with the AFM (Active Fuel Management) valve delete. On the automatic version of the Zl1, AFM valves come standard. AFM valves sit in the middle of the exhaust and will close once the car is put into the fuel-efficient 4-cylinder mode. However, if you’re buying a ZL1, how often are you really going to be using the car in its 4-cylinder mode? For most people modifying their cars, the AFM valves are deleted.  However, the APP valves are kept on the exhaust, allowing the ability to change how loud or quiet the car is. We also installed high flow catalytic converters, ya know, to save the environment.  Next up on our list of mods were the headers, also made by Stainless Works. To ensure the headers can handle the abuse of the 650hp engine, Stainless Works used 304 steel. Taking it a step even further, they also TIG welded the entire system. Featuring a primary tube size of 1 7/8″ and 3″ diameter lead pipes, these headers are maximized to encourage the most efficient airflow possible. The drone on this exhaust is practically non-existent as we were able to have a normal conversation in the car just fine.


After installing the headers & exhaust, we wanted to dyno the Camaro to get an accurate baseline before the VR Tuned ECU Flash. Keeping the environment the same, we ran the ZL1 once again. This time, however, we saw a gain of 11hp and 28ft/lbs of torque just from the exhaust and headers. We were happy with the results we had gotten so far, however realistically with long tube headers, you need a tune to really use them to their full potential. Speaking of a tune, that’s exactly what we did.

  • Stock WHP: 510hp 552ft/lbs
  • Stainless Works: 525hp / 580ft/lbs
  • Gain: 11hp 28ft/lbs

Moving on to the last modification we did, the VR Tuned ECU Flash. For pretty much all domestics, we use the HP Tuners platform to install the tune. This is all done through the OBDII port, therefore you don’t have to pull any ECUs out from the engine bay. All you really need is a Windows PC, the HP Tuners software, and the tune. This makes the installation of the tune super easy, and time efficient. Within the tune, we make changes to throttle mapping, ignition timing, and fuel adjustments. You can expect to see an increased throttle response and an overall improvement in the power curve once the tune is installed. 

Learn more & Shop for your VR Tuned ECU Flash

After running the ZL1 with both the Stainless Works headers and exhaust with the VR Tuned ECU Flash, we got 550hp and 610ft/lbs of torque. Given the circumstances with the 96-degree weather, and running on 91 octane, we’re beyond happy with the results. 

  • Stock WHP: 514hp 552ft/lbs
  • Stainless Works + VR Tuned: 550hp 610ft/lbs
  • Gain: 35hp 58 ft/lbs

In conclusion, the Stainless Works headers and exhaust along with the help of the VR Tuned ECU Flash really woke the ZL1 up. Even without the Stainless Works parts, the VR Tuned ECU Flash is an extremely easy way to add some horsepower without even touching a wrench. You can expect to see a 30 horsepower increase and an increase of 40ft/lbs of torque with just the tune. Not too bad for just having to plug a computer into your OBDII port. 

See & learn more about the VR Tuned ECU Flash

See & learn more about Stainless Works Headers

See & learn more about Stainless Works Exhaust

About The Author

Dan Mermelstein - Co-Owner, Blogger, Porsche Enthusiast, VRTuned Marketing and Technical Support. Available to make your car faster!

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