Swapping intakes for more power is nothing new in the world of performance. Even with the excellent design of today’s LS-based small-blocks, and all their modern technology, the new top dog in the world of performance still responds to old-school upgrades like this.
Fuel Air Spark Technology (FAST) has recently updated their 102mm LXSr intake manifold, and is also launching a new line of modular intake runners to be used with this two-piece intake, so LS3 owners can use their intake as a tuning tool to better suit racing conditions and other applications. We talked to Billy Godbold at FAST’s parent company, Comp Cams, about the intake’s design and benefits.
“The combination of the enhanced runner geometry over stock for performance applications along with optimizing the plenum volume and allowing a larger throttle body are the main benefits.”
Shortening or lengthening intake runner lengths has long been a way to alter an engine’s performance. In the past, this typically necessitated a full intake manifold swap. But with the new modular runner system, all someone has to do is unbolt the intake, open it up, and swap the runners.
Our test subject Camaro, a 2012 model, already had a full Trick Flow top end kit installed, along with Trick Flow headers and cat-back LSR Performance exhaust system. We were interested to see what an intake swap would do for our car, and after spotting the announcement about the modular runner kits at the 2014 SEMA Show, we definitely wanted to try one out.
At the time of our story, the production runner kits weren’t ready yet, as FAST was still finishing up R&D on them, but the intake itself was ready to go. So, we figured splitting this up into two parts would be best for you, the readers, giving us more space to explain everything. This part will cover the install and testing of the intake as-is, while part two will showcase changing the intake runners, and how shortening or lengthening runners affects engine performance. We’ll also test FAST’s upcoming 102mm drive-by-wire throttle body as well.
We headed to our local LS specialist and dyno shop, Antivenom Performance in Seffner, Florida, to get the job done. We’ll also note that we didn’t do any computer tuning with this intake swap, it was just a straight-up install.
|Parts for Fuel Line Assembly|
|Summit Racing||RUS-640940||Straight Fitting (x2)||$10|
|Summit Racing||SUM-220887b||90-degree Fitting (x4)||$16|
|Summit Racing||SUM-240820b||-8AN Braided Hose 20-feet||$1,151|
|Summit Racing||SUM-220687b||90-degree Fitting (x2)||$14|
|Summit Racing||SUM-220690b||Straight Fitting (x2)||$5|
|Summit Racing||RUS-632093||-6AN Braided Hose 20-feet||$110|
|Summit Racing||FRA-491989-BL||EFI Adapter Fitting||$18|
01. For our baseline, we strapped our test ’12 Camaro SS to the Dynojet chassis dyno at Antivenom Performance in Seffner, Florida. The car put out 433 horsepower at 5,900 rpm, and 408 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm.
02. The LS3 in our ’12 SS already had a Trick Flow Specialties top end kit installed, which consisted of Trick Flow heads, cam, and headers. It also had an LSR Performance cat-back exhaust system.
03. After letting the engine cool down, we started the intake swap by removing the factory airbox assembly.
04. After disconnecting the fuel line from the fuel rails and removing them, we unbolted the factory LS3 intake and set it aside. The beauty of the LS series is they use a “dry” intake, so you don’t get coolant going everywhere when doing an intake swap.
05. The heart of our story is the new LSXr 102mm intake manifold with modular runner capability. Aside from being able to bolt on a larger (102mm) throttle body (especially for engines with power-adders), the enhanced runner geometry over the stock LS3 intake along with optimizing the plenum volume are the LSXr’s main performance benefits.
06-07. The two-piece construction of the LSXr intake opens the door for the interchangeable runner system it employs. This feature allows the hard-core enthusiast and racer to now use the intake manifold as another tuning tool. Being able to lengthen or shorten runner length can change an engine’s performance drastically, allowing for the point of peak power and torque to be moved in the rpm range, along with increasing those peaks to adjust for track and atmospheric conditions.
08-09. On the left is the stock intake, on the right is the LSXr 102mm. You can see the difference in the throttle body inlet size between the two, which allows for a bigger throttle body and therefore more air to flow into the intake manifold.
10. Before installing the intake, you’ll need to cap off this vacuum port on the back, which isn’t need on an LS3 application.
11-12. Transfer the intake and throttle body gaskets from the factory intake to the LSXr intake.
13. Antivenom Performance owner Greg Lovell is always happy to show off his “big guns” and here we could use them to show off the LSXr 102mm’s much larger inlet size.
14. The intake comes with these rubber nubs that must be installed on the bottom of the intake before it is set in place. These rubber isolators help cushion the intake floor against engine vibration, and the vibration caused by the flow of air through the intake.
15. Before installing the intake on the engine, hook up the feed hose for the power brake booster.
16. To make sure the intake lid doesn’t come loose during engine operation, it’s a good idea to remove all the bolts fastening the lid to the intake manifold base, and apply some thread locker to the threads so they can’t back out from vibration.
17. The map sensor on the 5th-gen uses a larger nipple than earlier LS engines, so the port on the front of the intake must be drilled out to accept it.
18. With the sensor in place, use the included screw to secure it to the intake via the holding slot, as shown in the photo.
19. The FAST intake install kit comes with button-head bolts that are used to replace the factory valley cover bolts. The factory bolts are too tall and won’t allow you to bolt the new intake down, if you don’t swap them out for the included fasteners.
20. With the valley cover bolts replaced, we could set the FAST LSXr intake in place.
21. Here was an unexpected problem we ran into. With the stock throttle body installed, we had a hair’s clearance between the belt tensioner pulley and the throttle body. While this might not have been a problem, even with the tensioner moving during engine operation, it just didn’t sit well with us.
22. The solution to our problem was easy though. We swapped out our Camaro tensioner (right) for a Corvette tensioner (left). The Corvette tensioner uses a smaller pulley, along with clocking the pulley at a different spot. The GM part number for this tensioner is 12569301, and is available through Summit Racing, Scoggin-Dickey, or your local Chevrolet dealership.
23. With the Corvette tensioner bolted in place (it uses same bolts and mounting location as the Camaro tensioner) we now had plenty of clearance between the pulley and the throttle body. The tensioner swap did require us going to a shorter belt, which we grabbed at the local auto parts store, in our case a Gates K060785. You can use this number to cross reference to whatever brand you prefer.
24. Another item you’ll need is an extender for the 0.50-inch diameter power booster vacuum hose, which is available at most auto parts stores.
25. The factory fuel rails won’t work with the LSXr intake so we went with a set of FAST billet rails to complement our install. This also required a little bit of plumbing work on the fuel system. FAST sells a fuel line conversion kit (PN 54028-KIT) that is designed for 4th-gen Camaros but can be adapted with a few tweaks to work on a 5th-gen.
26. We wanted a certain look with our install though, so we decided to ring up Summit Racing and order the individual parts to make up our own set of custom fuel lines. The part numbers for everything we ordered can be found in the sidebar elsewhere in this article.
27. From the high pressure rubber line, you’ll need two pieces, one piece cut long enough to join the two fuel rails, the other to run from the passenger side fuel rail to the main fuel line coming off the body. To install the AN fittings on the rubber line, unscrew the end from the fitting, then insert onto the rubber line as seen here.
28. Then screw the fitting into the receiver as such.
29. This is what you should have, ready to be connected to the fuel rail.
30. These fittings are used to connect the line coming off the rail to the body fuel line, while retaining the quick-disconnect feature of the original fuel lines.
31. And here’s how it all looks when done. The factory engine cover can’t be installed with the LSXr intake, which isn’t a loss in our opinion. Seeing that FAST intake instead is much better.
32. On the dyno, we saw a big increase with the new intake, far exceeding our expectations. The LS3 cranked out 469 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, and 448 lb-ft of torque at 5,100 rpm. That’s a gain of 36 horsepower and 40 lb-ft of torque over our baseline. The other bonus was we didn’t lose any power down low, and saw increases in torque and horsepower throughout the rpm range, especially in the upper powerband.
|RPM||LS3 Intake||LSXr 120mm Intake|