Sometimes the most important things in a car build are simply overlooked. The builders get so focused on "big ticket" items that they develop a form of tunnel vision. This is especially true when the build is something as complicated as the Project American Heroes II (PAH II) '69 Camaro. Everyone became so focused on stuffing in the Turn Key Engine Supply 427 LS engine that nobody even considered the best way to supply atmosphere to the hungry mill. After all, an engine is just a big air pump and the quality of that incoming air has a lot to do with how the engine performs.
Luckily, K&N is just down the way from us and it agreed to rectify this air-intake oversight. After all, proceeds from this car were going to help the troops and K&N knew what was currently in place didn't mesh with the rest of this high-quality build. It didn't have a kit for this completely custom application, but it has tons of parts, killer equipment, and some really talented folks that wanted to help the PAH II Camaro be its best when it went across the block at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach, Florida.
Helming this project was Bert Heck, Performance Kit Manager for K&N. As he told Super Chevy, "When the Project American Heroes Camaro arrived at K&N, the first thing that we noticed is that it had a fuel-injected LS7 engine installed. What we've noticed over the years is that when a person is working on a project like this the one thing they always forget is the air filter. PAH was no exception. Everything was finished, fabricated, painted and assembled, but the air filter looked like a last minute quick fix."
And Bert was right, this car had events to attend and the quickest way to get it on the road was to slap a filter onto the throttle body and call it a day. But, this is far from the best solution and besides looking shabby it hurt the performance as well.
Bert explained, "With a filter just clamped onto the throttle body a few issues come up. First, restriction into the throttle body, secondly, turbulence and last, but not least, heat soak. After strapping the Camaro to the dyno, and making a few baseline pulls, we knew something needed to be done. What we came up with was a one-off intake. Paying close attention to tube size, air filter placement, and the size of the filter is how we produced the extra horsepower gains."
Keep in mind that this is a custom deal and while K&N would love to offer it in kit form, the problem is that every engine bay is unique and a "one size fits all" kit would be problematic at best. Nonetheless, the parts they used are pretty common and available separately from K&N; let this be a guide on the proper atmospheric feeding of your LS engine.
Here's our new intake coated and ready for installation. The new air filter is over 35-percent larger than the one that was on the car previously, which should equate to a bit more power.
Given all the test fitting that went on, it really wasn't a surprise that the new intake pretty much fell into place. K&N also decided to powdercoat the DSE radiator closeout panel in the same color to help tie everything together.
When doing an intake like this, it's important to have a way to support the weight of the tube. There are many ways to do this, but K&N decided to run a support bracket from the intake to an existing, unused, hole in the front of the cylinder head.
Here you can get a good idea of how the new intake tube snakes from the 90mm Turn Key Engine Supply throttle body to the void behind the driver's side headlight.
With the intake finished, the engine bay has a much cleaner look. From an appearance standpoint, it no longer looks like the intake was a last minute fix done by someone out of time.
Sure, it looks better, but would we get a performance gain? To find out we strapped the Camaro to K&N's Dynojet chassis dyno for some before and after testing. Bert explained, "The baseline numbers with the clamp-on filter were 384 hp and, after installing the new intake, that number rose to a far more impressive 409. A few things contributed to these gains, but the placement of the intake and the way it pulls in cool, non-turbulent, air is the main one. We were also able to richen up the tune to take advantage of the extra air." He also noted that the inlet air temp dropped over 50-degrees with the relocated filter. This should make an even larger difference in performance when the hood is closed and the Camaro is tearing up the highways.