Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Daphne, Alabama
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I agree with everything you said but headers and a tune will be really close to going above his $1000 limit, if not passing it. Even with Rustsetters, you need midpipes and have to have the things coated plus 350-500 for a tune (my shop charges 450).
I don't have anything against aftermarket cat-backs. I love my Borla, was the 4th thing I did after my K&N cai, Diablosport Predator, and JHP gauges. I lost 20 pounds off the porker, gained T-304 stainless, and a cool low rumble. But at 1000 bucks for 5-ish hp, you're right, not good $/hp investment.
Myself, I'd buy a quality set of headers and save up later for a tune. You've got plenty to choose from (Kooks, American Racing, Stainless Works, SLP) (listed in my order of preference). You can't go wrong with stainless steel and you'll gain 20hp out of the box with no tune and improved gas mileage. My car gained 2.5 mpg with just the headers and had Diablosport e-mail me their canned header tune which may have gained a little unnoticeable hp, but didn't really do anything for gas mileage. Maybe less black soot on the inside of the tailpipes.