It all started with a $40 K&N filter for my air box. I needed a new air filter and had heard good things about the K&N. At this point I new almost nothing about modifying cars and I really didn't believe that I'd notice a difference from just an air filter. Surprise, surprise. After the K&N was in the throttle felt more responsive and I swear my car went faster (of course it did!). That was it, I had been bitten by the speed bug.
I went down to the local magazine stand and bought every magazine I could find that might have some Probe stuff in it. I called up NOPI and ordered a Pace Setter 4 to 1 header and Pace Setter cat-back exhaust.
The exhaust sounded great and the header made my car want to rev forever. I remember that with the stock exhaust system my car felt really sluggish above 3500 rpm., but with the Pace Setter header and exhaust the motor has just happy to rev all the way to the red line.
With the header on there was no room for the old heat shield. Not wanting too much heat to build up beneath the hood, I bought some exhaust wrap and thermal-wrapped them. I thought it would be a good idea, but it turned out that too much heat built up in the tubes and I burned a hole through them. I ordered another set of headers from Pace Setter, this time armor coated. Armor coat is like Jet coating, a metallic-ceramic coating that protects the headers and looks bitchin, as you can see below.
I soon got used to the nice deep tone from my new exhaust, but it just wasn't enough. I went to Pep Boys and bought a length of 2.5" exhaust pipe. I measured the length of my catalytic converter, cut the pipe accordingly, had a muffler shop weld some flanges on, and presto, a homemade straight pipe. I replaced my cat with it and noticed a bit more throttle response in the high end, however, low end torque was a loser.
On the intake end I eventually tired of the big, ugly air box under my hood. I pulled it out along with all the associated silencers and other restrictive, plastic junk. I bought an RS Akimoto funnel ram filter and attached it with an adapter plate from a Nissan 240SX (I believe) to the mass-air sensor. I didn't want my car to be breathing hot air from under the hood, so I routed some drier hose to provide a cool air stream to the filter.
Every time I removed the intake hose I'd notice a ton of oil buildup on my throttle body and inside the intake manifold. In order to cut down on the amount of oil mist finding its way into my intake, I bypassed the PCV system with a few breather filters.