Legendary Hot-Rodder Roasts Tuner

The Drive 02/28/2023

Legendary Hot-Rodder Gale Banks has been modifying engines for more performance since the 1950s. Six decades of experience leads to plenty of accomplishments and a healthy heap of conviction that Banks knows his stuff. He’s confident enough that he’s willing to call out other aftermarket players for their wrong ideas, mostly out of love. He did it with Hoonigan and their high-powered diesel Camaro build a few years back. Now he’s done it again with S&B Filters for making an open-air intake.

It’s important to note that Banks’ stance on open-air intakes is nothing new. I interviewed him for a story on diesel tuning last year and he mentioned it in passing, saying they’re the worst for air density, which is really what you’re after. He’s staunchly against any type of “power adder” that sucks in hot air from the engine compartment. Consequently, he won’t sell any through Banks Power.

That’s another issue he takes with S&B Filters’ product demo for the intake. The intake appears to be from 2020 as it focuses on Ford Power Stroke diesels up to that model year. S&B Filters CEO Barry Carter says outright that these aren’t the best for performance. “For years, all we’ve done is preach how a closed intake system is better,” explains Carter. He goes on to add, “However, there are customers out there who want an open-style intake. For whatever reason, that’s the intake they want, and who am I to tell them they can’t have that?” In response, Banks argues, “You should be the authority—that’s who you should be.”

Banks inspects the filter and points out his specific gripes before going into a quick lesson on airflow. I’m no engineer, but then again, who am I to verify or disprove what the Turbo Papa is saying here? I don’t think many folks will take issues with what he’s saying—not even S&B.

“An exposed air filter under the hood is great as long as the hood is up and it’s able to draw cool dry air,” Banks’ video description reads. “But once the hood is closed, the air it inhales becomes superheated which is far less dense. An open-air filter may increase the engine’s sound, but it decreases performance. A real ‘cold air intake’ is one that actually draws in cold air from the vehicle’s exterior. And a better intake is one that utilizes vehicle velocity to ram that cool air into the enclosed airbox’s inlet.”

Gale Banks

So if you want a big, honking open-air intake because it looks cool, just know you aren’t making more power that way. The legendary hot-rodder notes that when he measures intake performance, he’s more concerned with how many pounds of air it’s flowing versus volume. In turn, filter size doesn’t matter nearly as much as filter location.

Some points are worth arguing back and forth, though there’s not much of a debate here when it comes to true performance. Then again, I don’t think open-air intakes are going away anytime soon. If you’re really after more power, consider what Banks is saying here and maybe put aside the Facebook commentariat.

This article originally appeared on The Drive and was written by Caleb Jacobs. Watch Gale’s video.