The introduction of the Gen III and IV LS and the Gen V LT V-8s are some of the greatest innovations for our hobby. They’re a simple drop-in engine swap because virtually everything imaginable is available through the aftermarket. Things like engine mounts are easy, but other things, such as the air intake system, typically require a bit more fabrication given how unique each LS swap is. Feeding atmosphere to the engine is critical, so installing an intake that properly places the filter away from engine heat, and preferably in an area that receives cooler outside air, is critical.
We’re working with a ’67 Camaro sporting an LS3 swap. What we needed most was a cold-air induction system capable of giving our Camaro more power via denser, cooler ambient airflow from outside the hot engine compartment. We didn’t want to mess with metal since it is harder to work with and tends to heat soak in the engine bay. Remember, as the inlet air temp goes up the ECU starts to pull timing from the engine, which is not a recipe for horsepower.
By locating the air intake as far as possible from the engine we should be able to mitigate the hot engine bay air from being ingested into the engine, which, as we said, will help with power. Besides, the whole idea of mounting the air filter directly to the throttle body, with the MAF sender shoved in there, is not the correct way and can cause tuning issues. Here’s what GM has to say about the placement of the LS MAF sensor:
“Ensure the MAF sensor is oriented correctly in the induction (it will only read correctly in the proper direction). An arrow is located on the sensor indicating correct flow direction. Verify this before welding the mounting boss, as the sensor will mount only one way in the boss.
Ensure the MAF sensor is mounted in the middle of a minimum 6-inch length of 4-inch diameter tube, and is a minimum of 10 inches from the throttle body.”
So, as you can see, slamming a filter and MAF onto the end of your throttle body falls into the “bad” category. The good new is that in most cases there’s plenty of engine bay room to fabricate a proper air intake system.
Airaid wanted to make this part of the swap easier so they offer a variety of cold-air kits for classic and late-model Chevys. We were searching for cold-air induction system bits for our ’67 Camaro when we discovered their Universal Air Intake Kit (PN 101-400), which is perfect for LS swaps where you want to get the air filter in just the right spot. We also ordered a heatshield block-off panel, designed specifically for our Camaro, from Spectre Performance (PN 4377). Both are simple, easy-to-install products that can give your classic Chevy an OE quality air intake system that will look good and not cost you performance.
1. The Airaid U-Build-It (UBI) Master Kit (PN 101-400) is a universal air intake kit designed for virtually any application. This kit features 4-inch outside diameter roto-molded intake tubes with multiple angles along with straight pipes that you can easily cut, allowing you to route the intake duct to any desired location in the engine compartment. Airaid offers several different kits with varying filter and tube sizes to handle just about any application.
2. We begin with the installation of the mass airflow (MAF) sensor adapter in the intake duct using the adapter as a template. You want to position the MAF sensor adapter where it would be installed in an OEM application upstream of the air filter. This is a commonly used one from Spectre Performance (PN 9924011).
3. We opted to use the adapter that came with our Chevrolet Performance LS wiring harness (which also included our MAF sensor). They both serve the same function so the choice is yours. The MAF sensor adapter was used as a template to draw the hole for the MAF sensor.
4. Holes were then drilled for the MAF sensor screws using the adapter as a template.
5. The intake tube has been marked for cutting to receive the MAF sensor.
6. Next, pilot holes for the MAF sensor are drilled. There are all sorts of ways to skin this proverbial cat. As long as you end up with a rectangular hole of the correct size you’ll be good to go.
7. Next, the pilot holes were drilled out to make way for the MAF sensor. We drilled a series of holes in a line and then cleaned up the edges with a razor knife.
8. The MAF sensor adapter was mounted and secured to the Airaid duct. Instead of running the bolts down, we opted to run them up through the tube. This way we won’t have nuts inside the intake tube that could vibrate loose, get sucked into the engine, and cause a really bad day.
9. The OEM MAF sensor was then secured to the adapter. It’s very important to mount the MAF sensor within reach of the wiring harness and to make sure the arrow is pointing in the right direction. We used locking nuts to make sure everything stays in place.
10. We chose to place the air filter in the far driver-side fender void (behind the headlight) where there should be more, cooler outside air. The Airaid universal kit includes the necessary piping to angle the ducting however you choose, which comes in handy for clearing radiator hoses and other obstructions. We picked up a cool (pun intended) heat block-off plate from Spectre Performance (PN 4377) and it integrated well with the Airaid system, but it’s not mandatory to use. As a bonus, the block-off plate secured the end of our air intake. Without the use of the block-off plate we would have had to fabricate a simple bracket using the supplied Airaid hardware to support the far end of the intake tube to keep it from bouncing about.
11. The Airaid ducting is measured and cut to the proper length. Plastic tends to “particle” from the heat of cutting. These particles will flake off easily. The fact that the system is made of plastic makes it very easy to work with. It will also resist soaking up a bunch of heat like metal parts would.
12. Our cut-to-fit Airaid ducting is installed here at the air filter and routing to the throttle body. The “hump hose” connector acts as a flexible coupler and gave us a few degrees of wiggle room with our installation. Our kit came with more than enough tubing to handle our project, with quite a bit left over.
13. Some LS applications, especially ones with larger aftermarket throttle bodies, will have different size openings so the Airaid kit comes with a stepped coupler that can be cut to transition from the air intake tube to whatever size throttle body you have.
14. Once the intake duct has been cut to the proper length, it is connected to the throttle body as shown. We used a coupler we already had on hand that worked great at connecting our 90mm LS3 throttle body to the 4-inch Airaid tube, but we could have just as easily used the stepped coupler provided in the kit.
15. Airaid provides the necessary positive crankcase ventilation plumbing for our cold-air intake. Many engine tuners recommend using a system like this. Keep in mind that even though we routed to the driver side you could just as easily (if your battery has been moved to the trunk, for example) gone to the passenger side of the car. Which way you go will be determined by obstacles such as radiator hoses.
16. The vent hose was installed as shown here between the MAF sensor and the throttle body. For a cleaner installation we installed it at 6 o’clock where it would be out of sight. The other end was attached to our Holley valve cover.
17. We really liked the Universal Air Intake package from Airaid, which is why we use it on nearly every Week To Wicked project we do. It works in nearly every application and since we are able to make it exactly the way we want, it fits perfectly. This kit made it easy to get a clean, custom fit air intake for our LS swap project and we actually liked the OE look. The fender support bars are part of the Detroit Speed (PN 011502) radiator closeout panel, which will seal off the top of the air filter to help isolate it from the engine bay heat.
Photos by Steven Rupp