Are They Worth It?
With everyone involved in the automotive industry always striving to get the most bang for their buck-the best mileage they can and the most power to boot-a lot of worthless products have been put on the market in the last decade. We're not pointing fingers, but some pretty hokey mystery fluids and air swirlers plague the automotive aftermarket, and its tough to figure out what really works and what you're whizzing money down the drain on. And it gets even trickier, because some products work really well on some engines, while others...well, you'd be better off spending the money on carbon-fiber rearview mirrors because that would have helped just as much.
What about throttle bodies? They are pretty pricey pieces of metal, but we've heard that if ported correctly, they can be a really nice addition to your engine. But how can they help so much? Throwing a performance carburetor on top of an engine will net you some fantastic results, but they flow the fuel to your engine as well as regulating the airflow.
We wanted to put the infamous performance throttle bodies to the test, so we called up F&B Performance, one of the better-known and highest-quality throttle-body manufacturers we know. F&B agreed to meet us at The Dyno Shop in Santee, California, to bolt one onto our recently running (again) red '94 Dodge. What we didn't tell F&B was that this truck was notorious for making stuff not work right and that the engine had already had a lot of flow work done to the manifold and heads. We knew it was going to be hard for the new throttle body to give us anything at all.
Boy, did we give F&B a challenge to overcome. Not only was this engine not stock, but it was our Jinxy truck to boot. If something could go wrong, it was going to go wrong. Mark Macneil of The Dyno Shop verified that F&B had brought Magnum-engine-equipped vehicles to them in the past and proved gains of 7-8 hp with an F&B TB. With that said, we spun the tires on the dyno and got our numbers. The vacuum in the engine did in fact drop just a little bit, proving better airflow. At the peak, we did in fact see an increase of almost 3 hp to bring our total to 259.4 hp at 5,164 rpm. Through most of the rpm band we made 4-5 extra hp.
But driveability is the real test. We went out for a ride in our Dodge and found what would be the real selling point for the snazzy throttle bodies-the responsiveness. The gain of a few horsepower was not too noticeable, and the fuel economy increase wouldn't pay for the throttle body for many thousands of miles, but the responsiveness of the pedal sold us on the idea that performance throttle bodies are worth it.