With an air cleaner visible...
With an air cleaner visible though the open hood scoop, our GTO with Ram Air now has the look of one tough hombre.
Ram Air and Pontiacs go together like beer and pizza. In fact, having an old Pontiac from the musclecar days without Ram Air somehow made us feel thirsty. We now intend to quench that thirst.
The Pontiac Ram Air system can trace its roots back to 1965. In August of that year, Pontiac released a little known accessory package for the '65 GTO, part number 984716 for $29.65, which eventually came to be known as the first generation "Ram Air" package. It consisted of a metal ram air "pan" (and seal) that replaced the Tri-Power air cleaner bases and sealed up against the hood, and a spare hood scoop insert (with instructions on how to cut it, and the hood, open). Another, similar accessory package (part number 98471) was released in January of 1966, with a new pan to accommodate the larger '66 Tri-Power center carburetor, and revised fuel line routing.
A month later, the Ram Air system became a regular production option, albeit with the Ram Air pan delivered from the factory "in the trunk." The factory Ram Air option now included a new engine code, "XS," which sported the hotter "744" cam (PN 9785744), improved single valve springs with dampers, and a fuel fitting to re-route the fuel lines under the Ram Air pan. Only a handful of XS cars left the factory in '66. Today, these factory XS Ram Air cars are very rare, highly desired, and as a result of supply and demand economics, very valuable.
Our particular '66 GTO was an early model year build, before the '66 Ram Air accessory package or XS engines were released, so it was doomed to breathe hot underhood air-until now, that is. Our planned performance upgrades have always included cold air induction, which if we're honest, is really all the Ram Air system provides.
The low profile of the '65-'67 GTO hood scoop puts it right in the air flow boundary layer (a slow-moving air layer close to the hood surface), thus negating any actual "ramming" effect from the air at higher vehicle speeds. But still, being able to draw cool outside air into the engine is definitely worth some hp, compared to breathing the hot, less dense, underhood air.
While Ram Air parts are readily...
While Ram Air parts are readily available as reproductions, the original Pontiac Ram Air accessory installation instructions are not. Since the early Ram Air system installation requires specific modifications to the hood, the instructions are definitely helpful.
Two of the necessary diagrams...
Two of the necessary diagrams have been simplified, redrawn and printed here. Reprinted originals can be found in the Pontiac GTO Restoration Guide 1964-1972 by Paul Zazarine and Chuck Roberts, available from Motorbooks International. This book is an indispensable reference.
After first finding the center...
After first finding the center of the hood, we marked out the required 17-inch wide cut for the underhood brace.
To get air from the scoop...
To get air from the scoop to the carburetors unimpeded, the rear part of the main brace (marked with X's) needs to be cut off.
To protect the exterior hood...
To protect the exterior hood sheetmetal during the cutting operations, we slid some 18-gauge steel under the brace.
Next we used an abrasive cut-off...
Next we used an abrasive cut-off wheel in a high-speed grinder to cut across.and along the brace.
To retrofit our ride with Ram Air, we simply procured a reproduction Tri-Power Ram Air pan and seal, then followed the Pontiac instructions to open up the scoop and modify the hood bracing as necessary. The hardest part for us was making that first cut in our original hood. Once we got over that, we were committed, and the rest got easier. Follow along with the photos and captions and you'll see how easy it can be for you too.
We've also planned a contingency for poor weather driving (should we ever get stuck driving in a downpour at some point), to prevent ingesting any water into the engine: we intentionally did not use adhesive on the ram air pan seal. That way, the seal can be easily removed, and with the hood scoop opening stuffed full of rags or what-have-you, our carbs can temporarily suck up dry, albeit hot, underhood air. We'll gladly give up those few hp in the rain.
What It Costs
This entire job took just a day to complete. Though some of these parts were collected over the years like the fiberglass Ram Air pan that has since been replaced in the resto market with a superior plastic one, the parts and typical prices listed below reflect current offerings.
|Reproduction Ram Air Pan (plastic)||$140|
|Reproduction Ram Air seal||$30|
|Reproduction Ram Air fuel line fitting (1966) only||$20|
|Open hood ornament||$90|