An internal combustion engine requires three ingredients to make power: fuel, spark or ignition, and air. In essence, an internal combustion engine is one big air pump, sucking in air, compressing it, and exhausting it. With that in mind, the easiest way to make more power is to give the engine more air, followed by more fuel, and good ignition.
There are many ways to accomplish adding more air to an engine: bigger cams, better intake manifolds, bigger valves – you get the gist. By far the easiest method is to replace factory intake tubing with a cold-air set up. The colder the air, the denser the air, therefore more performance.
On our 1965 Chevelle with an LS2, a mortal sin had been committed – an air filter was slapped on the throttle body. This provided the engine with lots of hot air, coming straight off the radiator, and no velocity to speak of. On top of the performance losses, it just looked tacky. We gave a call over to Mike Morrow, from Spectre Performance. He’s been in the air filter business for over twenty years, and knows a thing or two about getting the most out of a cold air intake.
“As a general rule of thumb, you should see roughly a 1 to 1.5% increase in power for every 10 degree drop in the intake air temperature,” Morrow informed us. This means that on our 500 HP LS2, we could see an extra 5-7 HP just for adding a cold air intake. A no-brainer for us, plus the Spectre intake looks way better and more complete than a filter on the throttle body.
For our Chevelle, Morrow had a simple solution, right off the shelf. We grabbed Part Number 901008, which places the air filter on the driver’s side. There’s options for passenger, driver, or dual sides as well. In this case, we would have had to fight with the upper radiator hose and computer on the passenger side, so we opted for the driver’s side.
Installation was easy, taking less than an hour and requiring no fabrication. First we laid out the parts to see what we had. Everything was included in the kit – a 4″ polished tube, air filter, couplers, hose clamps, and even a powder coated heat shield.
We started by removing the old air filter from the throttle body. From here, we mounted the heat shield, which utilizes the two radiator mount bolts, and one other bolt on the fender side. Remember to add the cushioned rubber seal, which helps block off the engine bay heat. With that installed, we simply attached the rubber coupler to the throttle body, then slid the intake tube in place. The last step was to attach the air filter, making sure there was clearance, and tighten down all the clamps. Installation really was that simple with the kit, making things easy for us!
But what if you have a car they don’t make an intake for? Spectre has that covered too. “We have many different styles and shapes of tubes, couplers, filters and everything else needed to custom make a cold air intake for just about any application,” Morrow told us. We had a really off-the-wall LS swap we were just completing, that needed an an intake as well.
We showed pictures and dimensions to Mike and his team, who then complied a bunch of different components for us. Our original intention for the cold-air intake was to have the tube come off the throttle body, complete a 90-degree turn, shoot past the alternator, and complete a second 90-degree turn with the filter ending up over the exhaust manifolds on the drivers side. However, this defeats the point of a cold-air intake when all the heat from the exhaust is rising straight up and into the filter.
The solution was easy – we eliminated the last 90-degree turn, putting the air filter just past the alternator. Now, this isn’t the optimal spot either, but without modifying the core support a bit, this was the best solution. This installation was easy and straight forward as well, we just mounted the 4″ polished tube, and measured three of four times before cutting. After trimming the tube a little bit more, the filter cleared the alternator, and hung nicely off to the side.
Having a cold-air intake is a necessity with a modern, fuel injected motor. Even original carburetor style motors can see the benefits of getting cool, clean air into the the engine. Whatever is under the hood of your ride, be sure to find those lost horsepower with a cold-air intake, and give Spectre a call as they have everything necessary to gain that power!
Check out the full line from Spectre Performance here, or give them a call at 909-673-9800 and check out the gallery below for additional pictures!