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Stahl Headers was started as Stahl
Engineering in 1963. The idea of exhaust systems intrigued Jere Stahl as
early as 1955 when he built his first "Hot Rod". It was a 1939
Chev coupe with a 235 truck block bored out to 253 cu in. The engine was
modified using a Harmon-Collins 3/4 race cam, modified cyl head with larger
valves, McGurk dual carb manifold and twin Stromberg 97's. The car would
outrun both the 55 Chev "Power Pack (180HP 4 brl)" and 55 Ford
"Whatever". The Ford optional performance engine which was
normally a 272 cu in manual trans cars and 292 cu in the auto trans cars. A
friend (Carl) worked at a Ford dealer and he talked the dealer into letting Carl swap his 272 for a 292 high performance
engine in a stick shift car. The car ran very well and
would run dead even with the 265-180hp Chev power pack. On the '39 he used
1954 Corvette 6 cyl exhaust manifolds and fabricated his own exhaust pipes
from the manifolds to the mufflers and twin tail pipes exiting along side
each other like the Jaguar XK120. Incidentally, the car was shipped over to
Germany and back at government's expense in 1956 and 1957. It was
actually driven on the roads used for the LeMans race track 2 days before
the race in 1957. The car ended up life as a modified stock car in
1960 or thereabouts.
While in the service in 1957 Jere got caught at the US Airbase in Frankfurt due to fog one night and went to the library. While browsing through the automotive section he came across a book "The Sports Car" by Collin Campbell. The book was published in England. Several years later after finishing college he found someone to get the book from the English publisher for him. It contained a section on intake and exhaust tuning. By 1962 the only headers being built in this country were tri-y's as produced by Jerry Jardine (Jardine Headers), Frank Sanders (S & S Headers), Douglas Muffler, Doug Thorley (Dougs Headers), and Bob Hedman (Hedman Hedders). During some drag races held at night during Daytona speed week at a nearby drag strip Jere met a Corvette racer named Don Gist. Jere convinced Don to have a set of headers built for his Corvette to specifications he dreamed up from reading "The Sports Car". The headers outperformed the Hedman's and during that year he baby sat the car for a few races, convinced Gist to have Bill Jenkins (Jere did not know Jenkins at that time) go through the engine and, in fact, he tuned it one night at the York drag strip during a NHRA WCS meet when they were as prestigious as the "National" meets now being held. Gist was able to beat the Old Reliable II (1962 BFX, 409 w/Z-11 cyl heads & manifold), Ramchargers AFX, Harold Ramsey 421 Pontiac and others. Quite a feat for a 1962 360hp 327 Corvette! In any event, he got the idea to build a set of 409 headers the next winter. Phone calls to Dave Strickler (York) and Bill Jenkins (90 miles from Strickler in Berwyn) resulted in an assurance they would test the headers when they came to Detroit to match race in May of 1963. When they arrived at Jere's gas station in Romulus and looked at the headers, Jenkins said he didn't think they would work (probably due to the ugly appearance). (Incidentally Jere got this first set back some 15 years ago.) Strickler said, "I gave the man my word we'd try them" and so on the race car they went. Jere won't tell the whole story of Jenkins driving the car on the highway over 120 mph and spinning off the road into a farmer's front lawn but... Bill said the seat of his pants told him they were better than the S&S tri-y's they replaced. A trip to Detroit Dragway produced the best times ever run by a Chevrolet AFX'er up to that point in time. The following week there was a Super Stock meet at York where Strickler became the first of the AFX'ers in the East coast or Midwest to go into the 11's and over 120 mph. The performance increase of going from the 12.teens at 118.xx mph was attributed to the headers. It wasn't long before Dyno Don Nicholson, Sox and Martin, Eddie Shartman, Malcomb Durham and others had to have their Stahl Headers. Ah yes, the good old days, when everyone paid for everything except for maybe spark plugs.
These were 4 tube headers or "Independent" as they were called. The above people bought their first 4-tube headers from me. Jere says that articles written by Racer Brown relative to his advice to the Lance Reventlow Scarab sports racing cars and the 4-tube headers they used also influenced him. The Ramchargers starting selling 4-tube headers in mid 1963 for the Mopar 426 max wedge engine. Jere built a set of 4-tube headers for Pete Seatons 62 421 "Swiss cheese" frame Pontiac but he doesn't think they produced any significant results over the Pontiac castings which were effective tri-y's. In Sept of 1963 Jere build Dave Koffel a set of 4-tube headers for his "Chev-Packard" gasser, then on to Arlan Vankes AFX 421 Pontiac Tempest that gained enough power to allow him to collect a bounty at Dragway 42 in Ohio of $100 for the first AFX'er in the 11's and another $100 for being the first AFX'r over 120 mph. Jere recalls charging Arlan something like $165 to build the headers on his car in his garage. Being a day late and dollar short caused Jere to have to work all Sat. night to finish the headers and so he fell asleep at the race track in Arlan's tow car. Jere woke up to Arlan laughing and handing him the $165 saying how he was $35 ahead of the deal. Stahl says he could tell some more stories about Arlan and his old buddy Bill Abraham but...
Any way.... Jere had leased this gas station in Aug of 62 in Romulus Mich and when Aug 63 rolled around he had enough of that deal and the weather etc. of the Detroit area. So he decided to move on. Vanke suggested he move to Akron Ohio, and Jenkins suggested he move to Pa. Jere decided to spend several weeks in both places for a trial. At that time Dyno Don Nicholson and Strickler/Jenkins were vying for #1 Chev AFX'r and Vanke had pretty much established himself as #1 Pontiac. (I'm sure Hayden Profit and Arnie Beswick will dispute that.) The Ramchargers and Golden Commando's were constantly fighting for #1 Mopar. (Trivia) My memory says the Ramchargers people were mostly Chrysler engineers and the Golden Commando group were primarily technicians from Chrysler. Although the Jenkins/Strickler Chev and Vanke's Pontiac were very close in performance, the differences in the way Jenkins and Vanke approached things was amazing. In the end result, I think the Pa. move was influenced more as a result of seeing a certain female's legs and that part of the female body above the legs from under a race car, than the race car. (She became wife #1 about a year later.) Jenkins and Stahl shared a shop in Berwyn for the next year. The shop was too small to contain their egos and York was much less expensive a place to rent space than Berwyn. So that's how Jere ended up in York!!
Unfortunately Jere has always been more concerned with doing things right than making money. When the great white header boat came along in the middle 60's being towed by the "Muscle cars" created by Jim Wangers and John Delorean it appears he passed up getting on it. In hindsight, the only people to make any money out of it in the header business was Hooker and they've now been forced to move to Mexico to remain competitive. Some of the people like Doug Thorley have gone away and then come back. Others like Frank Sanders have found other things to do. Jere says that Hooker never showed any qualms about copying other people's idea and he doesn't know of one single header related concept they originated. Stahl was the first to make and sell 4-tube headers starting in 1963. Adjustable headers were conceived in 1968 and John Dianna had one of the first 2 sets. Adapter flanges followed in 1971. Stahl fooled with step headers in 1968 and, in fact, he built a set of 2 steps (3 tube sizes) for Jack Merkle's A Gas supercharged in late 1968. We did exhaust reversion collectors in 1981 and have some interesting things like flow booster collectors laying around since 1983.
We tried to get some patents for header designs in the early 1970's and, in fact, was granted a patent for the adapter flange concept. The unfortunate thing is that there are only a few people with integrity in the high performance industry. (Ever notice how they copy each other.) A patent for an item that appeals to a market as small as automobile racing is not cost effective to enforce. The attorney fees are greater than the profits being derived by the imitators. Perhaps when the time comes to go, and there really is a big place in the sky, they may make the unethical people go to a different place than the ethical.
Today, Stahl Headers occupies a modern 22,000 square foot facility in York, PA. A line of roller camshafts and data acquisition and analysis software compliments the finest quality headers in the world for which Stahl Headers is famous.
Home Sales & Ordering Information About Jere F. Stahl Box Poem Mascots - Basenjis