Upgrading a 2014 Z/28 with MSD Atomic AirForce

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photos by: Rick Seitz

Testing the MSD Atomic AirForce Intake Manifold on a 2014 Z/28

The Z/28 is about as track-centric as it gets from the domestic market. When it comes to raw power and the components to utilize it, it’s hard to touch the 5th-generation Z/28. The naturally aspirated LS7 engine throws 505 horsepower to your accelerator pedal for your driving pleasure, and it’s dripping with parts (and lack thereof) to make it zoom around the track out of the box. Does all this stop people from trying to squeeze more out of their Z/28? Absolutely not!

This Z/28 was previously equipped with a pair of aftermarket heads from Trick Flow and custom ground camshaft from Comp Cams. It already cranks out some major power, but there’s no reason to stop there. Today, this Camaro Z/28 is getting one of the hottest intakes on the market today — the MSD Performance Atomic AirForce intake manifold.

Why the MSD AirForce Intake is Taking Over the Market

What’s so great about this new intake that has so many engine builders installing it on Camaros and Corvettes? The short answer is that MSD really outdid themselves when it came time to design the Atomic AirForce intake manifold. They threw everything they had at the Atomic AirForce, and pulled out all of the stops during design and development.

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MSD’s part number 2701 is made to fit the 2014 Camaro Z/28, as well as the 2006-2013 Corvette.

MSD designed the Atomic AirForce intake manifold to offer improved airflow and distribution. The benefit of this is obviously improved performance. With a stock engine vehicle, you’re going to pick up some power, but with a heads/cam build like this one, the whole setup is really going to open up, and it’s going to be felt behind the wheel right away.

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This intake uses unique bell-mounted runner entrances which maximize airflow and reduce shrouding, all while maximizing plenum volume so air can flow in an unobstructed path over opposing runners.

The highlights of the MSD Atomic AirForce Intake include:

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This heads/cam Z/28 is suited up in its battle tape and ready for the new MSD Atomic AirForce intake installation to begin.

  • Made using Computational Fluid Dynamic Modeling to optimize plenum volume and efficient paths of airflow.
  • Two-piece manifold design provides easier access to the runners for porting.
  • Direct flow past runners allow for maximum airflow.
  • Large throttle bore allows for the use of large throttle bodies.
  • Compatible with stock and certain aftermarket fuel rails.
  • All this while being able to use factory fuel rails to get the car back up in running right away, and without any other parts needed.

The Installation Process

Now that we’ve covered what the car is about, and what the intake has to offer, it’s time to get this intake on! The crew at Smokey’s Performance and Dyno in Akron, Ohio did all of the dirty work and showed us how it’s done. Take note that this process is going to be pretty much the same for any LS7 engine, minus the firewall hassle for other applications. You can follow along if you’re getting ready for your intake install on nearly any LS7, or even a LS1/2/6 since MSD provides the same instructions for all of those applications as well.

Included with part number 2701 intake manifold kit are all of the seals/gaskets, o-rings, screws, nuts, bolts, and washers needed for installation.

Included with Part# 2701 intake manifold kit are all of the seals/gaskets, O-rings, screws, nuts, bolts, and washers needed for installation.

*Start this installation by disconnecting your battery, first!

Parts/tools used:

  • Quick disconnect
  • O-ring assembly lube
  • Blue Loctite

Removal

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1. Removal of the old intake begins with the removal of the fuel rail covers. Also, clearing the engine bay of debris while at step one is essential. It only takes a minute for the team to vacuum up nastiness lurking around the engine bay. In just a few steps, the internal engine is going to be vulnerable, so it’s time well-spent to prevent disaster.

 

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2. With the fuel rail covers off, the Schrader valve is located and pressed in to release any fuel pressure in the rails/lines. After this is done, the quick disconnect tool is used to disconnect the fuel line from the fuel rail.

 

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3. After removing the fuel line, the the vacuum lines and PCV hoses come off. Then the TPS, MAP sensor, and MAF sensor connections are all disconnected. The fuel injectors are removed by pressing on the small wire retainer and pulling the connector off. They then remove the coil packs from the valve covers and place them aside.

 

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4. Tim removes the inlet duct tubing from the throttle body and the four bolts holding the throttle body in place, pulling it off and setting it in a safe place until reinstallation.

 

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7. Using the same tape trick every LS Camaro/Firebird owner in the world has used, the intake bolts are loosened as far as they’ll go in the back, and then a piece of tape is placed in-between the washer and intake to keep it them from falling back down into the bolt holes. This is the only way to get the intake out from deep under the cowl, otherwise, you can kiss you sanity goodbye!

5. Using the same tape trick every LS Camaro/Firebird owner in the world has used, the intake bolts are loosened as far as they’ll go in the back, and then a piece of tape is placed in-between the washer and intake to keep them from falling back down into the bolt holes. This is the only way to get the intake out from deep under the cowl, otherwise, you can kiss you sanity goodbye!

 

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6. With the back bolts unbolted as far as they will go, and taped in place, the remaining bolts are loosened and removed. Steps 5 and 6 are interchangeable.

 

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7. The stock intake is removed and moved to the work table.

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8. Before anything else is done, the heads are taped up to prevent anything from falling into the engine.

 

9. The stock intake is removed and set aside in a safe place, nice and out of the way.

9. Since the team is using the OEM fuel rail assembly and injectors, those are removed from the stock intake by removing the four retaining bolts from the intake. The assembly is lifted off as the injectors stay connected to the fuel rails, each o-ring is still in place on the respective injectors, and the assembly is installed on the new intake.

MSD Intake Installation

13. Next up, the crews installs the MAP sensor and puts Loctite on the supplied (8)M6x1.0x30mm, (2) M6x1,0x45mm socket head caps screws, and washers. With everything clear and free debris, they put the runner seals and throttle body gasket on the intake, and take the tape off the engine because it’s time for installation.

10. Next up, the crew installs the MAP sensor and puts Loctite on the supplied (8)M6x1.0x30mm, (2) M6x1.0x45mm socket head caps screws, and washers. They put the runner port seals and throttle body gasket on the intake, spreading the o-ring assembly lube around each, and take the tape off the engine because it’s time for installation.

 

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11. The intake is lowered onto the engine, and the intake bolts are tightened in sequence (according to the manufacturer’s provided instructions). The coil packs, fuel line, and injectors are reconnected.

 

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12. The throttle body is reinstalled into position with the mounting bolts.

 

16. The fuel rail supply line is reconnected, and the elbow is reattached to the throttle body.

13. The elbow for the air intake is reattached to the throttle body. The IAC, TPC, PCV and everything else is reconnected.

 

17. After one final inspection the make sure everything is reconnected and seated properly, the Z/28 is ready to jump off the lift!

14. After one final inspection to make sure everything is reconnected and seated properly, the Z/28 is ready to jump off the lift!

The Results Are In!

The Z/28 is ready to head to the dyno with its new intake!

The Z/28 is ready to head to the dyno with its new intake!

 

SMOKEY'S DYNO & PERFORMANCE

These are our baseline numbers, taken before the intake, 498.7 RWHP and 437.9 RWTQ.

 

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The Z/28 is secured to the dyno, and we wait with anticipation to find out what kind of difference the installation made.

The Z/28 is secured to the SuperFlow dyno, and we wait with anticipation to find out what kind of difference the installation made. The boys at Smokey’s had already calibrated the Camaro’s ECU with the head/cam upgrade, just prior to the AirForce install. They utilized another tune with the same HP Tuners software

 

SMOKEY'S DYNO & PERFORMANCE

With the new intake, the Z/28 now puts down 509.1 RWHP and 458.4 RWTQ!

 

So there you have it! In a matter of a few hours, the Z/28 gained a little over 10 horsepower to the wheels, and a really impressive 20.5 RWTQ. The car’s owner is definitely going to feel the difference in the pedal, and the Camaro will perform better across the board.

These results are pretty consistent with other builds we’ve been seeing. You can check out the previous coverage we’ve done on this intake here to see more dyno results from MSD’s new intake.

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  1. Sam 26 May, 2016 at 23:59 Reply

    “MSD really outdid themselves when it came time to design the Atomic AirForce intake manifold… pulled out all of the stops during design and development.” Is that a joke? Look into some of the problems people are having getting these things to work on an LS1. Their engineers dropped the ball big time.

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