Carb Spacers — Cheap Horsepower or Cheesy Add-On?
Carburetor Spacers…we see them on everything from Pintos to professional race cars. Sometimes they are necessary for optimal horsepower numbers, while other times they are simply used to raise the carburetors higher for appearance purposes. The thing that makes them so popular is the price. They’re cheap and effective, no matter your intended purpose.
Let’s talk about horsepower. If you’re building an engine that is destined for the street, a carburetor spacer may not give you a lot of horsepower in a usable range. They will add a little bit of power way up top, but only if you need the extra plenum height to match up with your camshaft and cylinder head combination. In dyno tests, there are often gains, but it’s in high rpm situations that may not ever be reached on the typical street engine. And chances are likely that if you’re using a low profile intake manifold, it is due to hood clearance and not from a performance standpoint. Therefore, a carb spacer will not be practical.
On the other side of the coin, some folks use a carb spacer to give their engine more of a performance appearance. We’ve seen them on top of superchargers, tunnel rams, and regular “tall” single plane intake manifolds to make the carburetors stick even further out of the hood. That’s sort of an old trick from the Pro Street days, but it certainly adds to the wow factor of your engine.
Another advantage of a carb spacer is getting the carburetor further away from the intense heat from the engine. One inch can make a lot of difference when it comes to protecting your car from vapor lock, and a carb spacer might just do the trick. Ethanol-enriched fuels have a lower boiling point than pure gasoline, so vapor lock is becoming more common. It is important to pay attention to the material of the carb spacer, as some materials can transfer heat, while others absorb the heat. Phenolic spacers, like the ones we offer, are the most popular as they help with vapor lock, while also providing the slight horsepower increases.
Carb spacers are cheap and easily attainable. We offer them in our RPC brand, as well as a Holley unit that features a vacuum port for use with a PCV system. If a carburetor spacer seems like the right choice for your build, trust Honest Charley to provide the right parts!