Dyno Testing 7 Popular LT1 Engine Modifications

Fact Or Fiction - Part 1

Eric McClellan Apr 9, 2013 0 Comment(s)


Test 3 – MSD 6AL and Coil
Max Power: 364tq, 324hp
Average Power: 337tq, 270hp
Cost: $260

Ghtp 1304 06 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Msd 6al 1/23

The transitional style ignition system on the LT1 is perhaps the most maligned aspect of the engine, so a few basic upgrades in this area seemed appropriate. We found an old MSD 6AL ignition box lying around and decided to throw it on the dyno to see what it could do in conjunction with a high-output coil. As with the plugs and wires, a stronger spark will create a more efficient burn of the fuel and air mixture. We decided to test the MSD 6AL and coil to see what effect, if any, a more efficient ignition source could gain us. In theory, a stronger spark will create more power by fully igniting all of the fuel and air in the combustion chamber. In most cars, the stock ignition works just fine, however when cylinder pressure increases you'll need a greater source to ignite the mixture. On a stock engine the power from an MSD box and coil will most likely be nominal, but it is virtually a requirement for high performance engines. We saw small gains in both horsepower and torque pretty much all the way through the powerband. Again, this is an upgrade that is more effective in avoiding issues further down the road than it is making power on its own.

Ghtp 1304 08 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Msd 6al Ignition Dyno Chart 2/23


Test 4 – TPIS AirFoil
Max Power: 373tq, 327hp
Average Power: 343tq, 275hp
Cost: $50

The TPIS AirFoil has been around for quite some time, almost as the first LT1 rolled off the line, TPIS had this neat piece ready to go (thanks to its TPI predecessor). Smoothing out the intake path by diverting air more efficiently to each throttle bore allows more air to flow into the intake manifold and heads. The cool thing is that it's fairly inexpensive and takes less than 15 minutes to install. The price per power gained on this unit makes it a no-brainer. We saw some significant gains with this, almost a 20% gain in both average HP and TQ in this test. Not too shabby!

Ghtp 1304 10 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Tpis Airfoil Dyno Chart 6/23


Test 5 – Airaid Air Filter
Max Power: 365tq, 329hp
Average Power: 340tq, 273hp
Cost: $70

Ghtp 1304 15 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Airaid 7/23

For those with a sharp eye, you'll notice that this isn't the stock LT intake. Instead this is an air intake from an LS1 Camaro that was very similar to the Ram Air LT1 intake. Try as we did, we could not find a stock LT1 air box to test, we asked friends, neighbors and even the mail man! We even ordered one off of eBay, but it showed up cracked and broken, definitely not usable. Sure, the air flow is different, but this air box was used on all of our tests, so we feel the test was fair as we were only comparing a stock paper air filter versus a performance filter.

The stock paper filter is typically inefficient, as it does not allow air to flow as freely through the element as it could. An engine is basically a glorified air pump. The more air you can shove into the engine, the more power you'll be able to make. So, with that in mind we decided to test a performance style filter that boasted greater airflow over the stock paper filter. We're not quite sure what happened with the Airaid air filter. To be frank, we weren't expecting miracles here, but we were anticipating some small and modest gains going from a stock style paper filter. Our theory is that our exhaust system is the real limiting factor and while we are able to make the engine breath in better, it's really not doing much for us since it can't breathe out.

Ghtp 1304 13 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Airaid Air Filter Dyno Chart 8/23


Test 6 – MAF Housing
Max Power: 365tq, 332hp
Average Power: 338tq, 272hp
Cost: $80

Ghtp 1304 17 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Tpis Maf 9/23

Often over looked is the MAF housing itself. The stock MAF is quite constrictive as the main entry point for air that feeds the engine. This version from TPIS increases the size to 3-inches and removes the center divider, which can reduce airflow. The point again is, more air in, the more power we can expect. From our tests, it's not a huge increase, however with high-output motors and boost, this MAF will make a much more significant increase.

Ghtp 1304 16 Dyno Testing 7 Popular Lt1 Engine Modifications Maf Housing Dyno Chart 10/23

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