What is Ram-Air Intake?

Troy Holmes

In high-performance cars, ram-air intake is a special intake manifold system that forces outside air into the motor. This device can increase horsepower in these high-performance vehicles because it provides more combustible air for the motor than a conventional manifold system.

Ram-air intake systems cause an increase in horsepower.
Ram-air intake systems cause an increase in horsepower.

The physics behind ram-air intake systems is fairly simple. This design pulls cooler outside air into the combustion chamber of the engine motor. As the car increases in speed, more air is forced into the hood scoop area, which causes the engine to gain horsepower. When the car slows down, the air flow decreases, which reduces the engine horsepower.

Drag cars are designed to generate extreme speed in a short distance.
Drag cars are designed to generate extreme speed in a short distance.

Ram-air intake systems have been used for many decades. These systems are typically identified by large hood scoops on the vehicle. This scoop captures the air flow as the automobile moves forward. This air is forced into the intake of the motor, which helps to increase the performance of the car.

Many cars have special low, ground-level ram-air intake systems. These systems are built into the front portion of the car, which scoops the air up through special large hoses. The hoses are connected to the intake manifold, which has the same effect as a hood scoop system.

A supercharger is designed based on the same principles as a ram-air system. The supercharger forces additional air into the intake manifold through special pulleys and motors, which raises the horsepower of the car. Similarly, the ram-air intake system uses natural aspirated air flow from the vehicle's forward momentum to force additional air into the manifold of the motor.

Most performance motorcycles and off-road vehicles also use ram-air intake systems. These air ducts are typically located on the front of the bike, just below the handle bars. The air is forced into the intake system of the bike, which generates significant horsepower gains.

The first ram-air intake systems were introduced in the drag racing scene in the early 1960s. This quickly became a standard feature in modern performance automobiles from American manufactures. These automobile giants have used ram-air intake systems to generate performance in sports cars for many decades.

Most drag racing cars use a combination of ram-air systems and superchargers. These cars have huge hood scoops that force air into a large supercharger on the top of the motor. These drag cars are designed to generate extreme speed in a short distance.

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