Saturday, September 24, 2011

Racing Beat knockoff header

I've learned something from my foray into the bottom-of-the-barrel cheap parts: There are two levels of shitty.

Level One: Low price, good build quality, but materials that aren't the most durable perhaps because of lower quality.
Level Zero: Lowest price, terrible build quality, horrendous materials.

My recent reviews of Raceland's header put them squarely into Level One. Their header is well built, looks good out of the box and is well supported. They also have a real company/brand name to uphold, as evidenced by their stickers and catalog included in the order. Their downfall is that their steel isn't pure/robust enough to stand up to the harshest commutes through aggressively salted Chicago interstates. I'm confident that someone living in, say Florida, would be perfectly happy with their product.

This one, on the other hand, is simply not worth a purchase. I don't mean to single out SpeedyRacer--an eBay seller--as there are multiple people peddling this shoddy product. It's the only header that imitates the Racing Beat with a 4-1 design (all the others imitate the 4-2-1 or Tri-Y design of the Jackson Racing); since the Racing Beat is reportedly the best off-the-shelf header out there, it's truly unfortunate that the only imitation is so incredibly awful.

See for yourself in the slideshow. The welds are so awful, I'm surprised I didn't find welding rod sticking out of them. I wonder if they're even airtight. I saw one car with this header at SCCA Solo Nationals (STS class), and wasn't surprised to find it was rusting just like my Raceland unit--though that particular car certainly didn't see the heavy winter commuting duty that mine did.

The final straw--and this really killed me, because I was nearing the end of my engine swap at the time, filled with exhaustion, frustration at already too many broken surprises, and anxious to hit the road--was that it just didn't fit. It hit the flat horizontal part of the body below the brake and clutch master cylinders. I was so goddamn angry when I couldn't get the piece of cockblasting assnugget* to fit that I literally bounced it off the fucking concrete floor and across the garage.

Since I've seen this header fit on other cars and it's gotten some positive eBay responses, I can conclusively say their quality control department and the jig they use to build this header are both not very consistent. And, judging by the fact that a magnet will stick to certain parts of it--most notably the bends, as demonstrated in the slideshow--they clearly use ultra-low quality stainless steel too.

By "they," of course, I mean whoever makes this piece of garbage, not Speedyracer or any other eBay vendor--though they are responsible for selling a shit product. Much to that vendor's credit, they did take a return on the header even though it was past the 30-day return period. So thank you, Speedyracer, for not totally screwing me.

There you have it, friends: real buying advice. Don't buy the absolute cheapest garbage. Pay a little extra instead. I'd buy the Raceland header again. You couldn't pay me to use this one--which is just as well, since it seems to no longer be available on eBay.

*I'm a classy guy.

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