Fresh Air Induction
One of the easiest ways to get an increase in power is to induct fresh, cold airfrom a source other than under the hood. The factories have done it many times in one form or another, such as shaker hood scoops, cowl induction, and the famous Pontiac Ram Air system of the Sixties and Seventies. Though the factories usually credited the fresh air systems with no more than about a 10 horsepower increase, they were worth a lot more than that.
These same ideas can be used to increase the power of today's computer controlled GM cars that come equipped with a carburetor. Because the computer control system has a built-in plus or minus 15 percent variability factor, as long as we don't go overboard with how much fresh air is inducted into the carb, there should be an increase in power without causing a problem with the computer control system. A subsequent benefit of fresh air induction is an increase in fuel mileage, not to mention the added benefit of the sound the secondaries make on a Q-jet when they are dumped wide open.
In the February '87 issue of PHR, we introduced our '87 Pontiac Formula Firebird which we dubbed Budget 'Bird. The reason behind calling it the budget 'Bird was because it is the entry level performance car from Pontiac for the masses. With standard 305 V8, five-speed transmission, and the great handling WS6 suspension package all as standard equipment for just a shade over $13,000, the bargain of the year from the GM camp. What we wanted to accomplish with the Budget 'Bird was to get as much performance as possible using aftermarket, factory and backyard ingenuity without going past the boundaries set by the computer control system on the car.
The other parameter set down was this had to be accomplished for as little money as possible. Even with the 4-ft x 4-ft sheet of 6061 T6 aluminum used to make the fresh air chamber, our total cost on this homemade ram air system was only $22.37 with tax (1987 dollars). If you shop around and look for things on sale, like we did with the silicone sealer in the caulking gun tubes, you can cut down expenses dramatically. In hand-held 0-60 mph times, we've seen a 0.20-0.30 second decrease in times. Not bad for a paltry $22.37 and it keeps the premise alive that low cost and performance improvements can go hand in hand with the Budget 'Bird.
Something else to remember with this approach to a performance improvement is that these modifications can be done on just about any car, as long as there is some imagination involved. As a matter of fact these particular mods can be done to any third generation Firebird with the turbo blister hood. Follow along with the photos and we'll show you our approach to Fresh Air Induction for Budget 'Bird.
Show me how it's done---->
This article was copied without permission from the April 1987 issue of Popular Hot Rodding magazine.