Look under the hood of any vehicle built after 1990 and you’ll notice one thing in common: They all have an intake system that pulls air from a fender well or from the front of the core support, supplying the engine with fresh, cool air for maximum power and efficiency. Why? Because cool air is denser than warm air, which means there is more oxygen packed into every square inch. The higher the oxygen content, the more powerful and efficient your engine will be with every stroke of a piston. Cooler intake air becomes a denser charge, which equals more tire-churning power.
Most classic street machine owners rarely give a second thought to slapping a 14-inch round open air cleaner on top of their carburetor and calling it a day. The problem? Between your oversize radiator, headers and all those hoses, the air temperature under the hood of your muscle car can spike as high as 220 F on a hot summer day! The team at Spectre Performance in Ontario, California, decided cold air intakes shouldn’t be relegated strictly to the late-model crowd, so they designed a series of intake systems for classic Chevy muscle cars.
The principal is simple: Pull cool air from outside the engine compartment and feed it directly into the engine in the smoothest way possible. Spectre offers a variety of intake systems for Camaro, Chevelle, El Camino, Impala, Nova and more. The RacePak system looks like it was lifted off a ‘64 Ford Thunderbolt race car: a round filter in a big spun aluminum can with two intake tubes running to the front of the engine compartment. The PowerPak and TrackPak systems use a hat on top of the carburetor that pulls air either from the fenders or from the corners of the engine compartment that have been isolated from the heat with laser-cut heat shields. All three systems are easy to bolt in with hand tools. The systems make impressive power gains, as they can drop inlet air temperature by as much as 100 F on a hot summer day. The more powerful your engine (and therefore the more air it requires, since engines are basically big air pumps) the more it is affected by inlet air temperature. Here are some examples.
Ever wonder why your car feels so much faster on cold winter mornings than on hot summer afternoons? The more power you make the more your engine is affected by the density (temperature) of the air. Cooler, denser air means more oxygen is packed into the combustion chamber on every compression stroke of the piston. The more powerful the engine, the greater the improvement in power. A 500-hp engine can see a 100-hp gain from a 110 F inlet air temp drop. But even a modest 30 F inlet air temp drop picks up 24 hp and 25 lb-ft of torque!
We followed along as Spectre installed an intake on an early Camaro powered by a standard small-block Chevy. The entire process took less than an hour, and we were on the road and making more power. Every Spectre ProFab intake uses a high-flow, reuseable hpR air filter element that is backed by an unlimited lifetime warranty fed by mandrel-bent aluminum intake tubes, and includes all necessary brackets, adapters and hardware.
Spectre Performance Dept. MCP
1720 S. Carlos Ave. Ontario, CA 91761