Over the years, plenty of magazine articles have been written about carburetor spacers. They all talk about how various spacer configurations work and have also delved into the various materials used to construct spacers-typically aluminum, phenolic resins, or wood. And for the most part (and from what many Chevy enthusiasts already know), there usually isn't much power in a spacer. Oh, you might find a horsepower or two in some instances, you can move the power band around a bit and help distribution in other cases, but for the most part, there isn't much extra grunt available from a spacer. Or is there?
Fast forward to today. A company called High Velocity Heads (HVH), led by Joe and Keith Petelle, have an new entry into the carburetor spacer business. But let's back up for a minute: Who are Joe and Keith Petelle, and what is HVH? Joe and his son, Keith, may not be well-known in the world of street cars, but it's another story in Winston Cup where they made a name for themselves porting heads and manifolds from 1980 to 1992. In addition, HVH designed a series of intake manifolds for Brodix and also created the layout for the Canfield big-block head. Currently, they primarily build carb spacers, but they also do limited amounts of custom work for short track applications and drag race cars (yes, they do work on iron as well as aluminum heads and will basically port anything that flows air).
The carb spacer designed and built by HVH is called the "Super Sucker." While at first glance it looks like a conventional four-hole spacer, a closer inspection reveals that it is a long way away from standard issue. For example, the material is a plastic composite-and the spacer isn't simply cast, it's machined. The area between the respective holes is carefully profiled. It certainly looks different. But how good does it work?
We discussed the matter with John Heida of Speed Way Testing in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Now, Heida knows his way around cylinder head and manifold flow. He designs and ports cylinder heads for drag race applications (primarily rules-restricted class cars) and, of course, fast street cars. We scrutinized the Super Sucker. Sure it was made from a very composite material, and sure, it was a 1-inch tall version. And yes, the top side (carburetor mount side) looked like any other four-hole spacer for a standard Holley flange. But the bottom (intake manifold side) was far different than anything we had seen before (see the accompanying photos). But how things look quite often don't equate to horsepower. So we asked Heida to test the Super Sucker on his SF901 dyno, using a very typical small-block.
The engine in question was a relatively mild, 355ci small-block Chevy with a set of small valve heads reworked by Heida. If you check the Volumetric Efficiency of the engine coupled with the brake specific, you'll find that the engine is a pretty efficient piece, considering its docile inventory of components. Data was corrected for 29.92 inches Hg, 60-degree F dry air. The tests were done in a conventional A-B-A format (for the sake of simplicity, we haven't included the final back-up test-it matches the first test exactly). The baseline test results are as follows: