I ran a 327/350HP small block in a '61 Biscayne and later dropped it in a '68 Chevy II. The Biscayne I bracket raced in the Nostalgia Drag Racing Association, a now defunct California based series of races held on various California Racetracks in the 90's. The Biscayne earned first place in its bracket by the end of the season. That was a lot of fun. Always loved that little 327. And the J C Whitney catalog, it fueled many a dream as I was growing up. Nice memories. One memory though, I was at the Palmdale, California Drag Strip one summer, sweating in the 100 degree heat, wrenching on my Biscayne and a friends Slingshot Dragster, wondering why this was my hobby instead of setting under the pine trees camping? 25 years later I have my pine trees... at least for this weekend.
Overall I agree with you Twoxentrix. I'm very aware the E350 is heavy and definitely not aerodynamic, and my mods like the lift, 33" tall tires without regearing, Mud Terrain tread, the high top, and bolt on aerodynamic drag like my solar panels, roof vent, light bar, awning etc, etc have negatively impacted fuel mileage. I've watched fuel economy drop by up to 1-2 mpg for each one of these mods as I've added them. Couple that with the fact I regularly drive 75-85 MPH and I know I can't expect to get great mileage. I keep trying to limit my speed to 70 MPH but have been largely unsuccessful. I realize that "mod" alone would probably net the biggest gains. On longer trips I hope to set back in the slow lane and enjoy the scenery.
Where I disagree is that I should just accept that the mileage is what it is. Or that a 1-2 MPG gain is not worth the expense or time to try to improve mileage admittedly insignificantly. I've lost mileage at 1-2 MPG increments as I added mods, why can't I enjoy gaining 1-2 MPG with a small change?
I ran the numbers before ordering this part. I decided to use my future June trip by itself, 4000 miles round trip from SoCal to San Antonio, then up through Oklahoma, then back home to SoCal. In 4000 miles the difference in fuel consumed at 10 MPG and 11 MPG is 36 Gallons. I will assume gas will be at $3.00 per gallon by June, and at that price that little 36 Gallon difference equates to roughly $100. Here in SoCal regular is already at $4.00 per Gallon. If I realize an improvement of 2 MPG, that $ savings doubles. For just one trip. I'm building this van for the long term, the miles will continue to roll by.
As an old hot rodder I have never thought much about the Cold Air Intake systems. I have zero experience with them and don't personally know anyone that has one. I didn't hold them in high regard. So this was going to be a challenge to my mental impressions. Does a Cold Air Intake actually improve performance? Could it improve fuel consumption? I decided to find out for myself.
We took the van up to Idyllwild, California this weekend. It was the first trip with the new Intake. This trip wasn't a fair comparison for fuel economy though. For one, when we left home the freeway rarely exceeded 50 MPH due to traffic. Then we exited the freeway onto mostly 2 lane highway that meandered through the mountains. Top speed was limited by each next turn coming up. Idyllwild's elevation is 5414 Feet. My home in Riverside, California sits at about 850 Feet. About 170 miles round trip due to some of the highways being washed out during the recent rains. Lots of slowing to 30 MPH, then accelerating to 60, only to brake for the next curve. Hard to compare to our typical 460 mile round trip to Lake Havasu, running 80 MPH most of the way.
The only thing to really evaluate this trip was for any performance enhancements. My Butt-O-Meter indicated some improvements. Below 2000 RPM not much difference. At 2100 RPM it suddenly wakes up and starts accelerating quickly. It pulls hard up to its shift points. With the AC blowing on high, the Stereo cranking Classic Rock, and Lady Shadetree and I belting out the lyrics, the increased noise of the Intake was not noticeable.
The Jury is still out if this Intake actually improves mileage any, but, the modest gains in performance have me happy I installed it.
Meanwhile, back at camp, we enjoyed ourselves immensely this weekend.