Disclaimer - This review is subjective in nature and includes the opinions of the author. All results may vary considerably by application. This product was acquired at retail value and this is not a paid endorsement of the product(s) featured herein; no compensation was received for the publishing of this article.
Airforce One Performance Intake Review
We ordered Airforce One's performance intake for the 1997 - 2003 F-150 with a 4.6L V-8, manufacturer part # 16408 through Troyer Performance. To much surprise, the intake system was disappointing from the moment it was pulled from its packaging.
The "Aircraft grade T304 stainless steel" intake tubing was corroded and pitted inside in addition to being coated in a mysterious grime we can only assume was remnant cutting fluid used in the manufacturing process. Metal flakes and debris littered to the interior of the pipe, which could have easily found it's way into the engine. After a thorough cleaning with acetone and steel wool, the tube was ready for installation. On a positive note, the exterior surface of the tube was polished to a perfect mirror finish.
The EBB fittings for the crankcase ventilation system and IAC valve were the incorrect size for our application. After seeking support from the manufacturer, we were advised to fashion a coupler. This kit is advertised as a direct bolt-on kit for our application, and the coupler (which is considered a modification) ultimately killed the legality of the intake for California emission testing purposes.
The MAF sensor adapter (machined adapter connecting the MAF sensor to the air filter) was incorrect for our application. After seeking support from the manufacturer, we were advised to machine the adapter to fit. At this point, we're wondering if the definition of "bolt-on" has somehow been lost in translation.
But at last, the intake system was installed. As a final grievance, the plastic engine cover that sits atop the throttle body did not fit with this intake system installed as a result of the crankcase ventilation routing. Aside from cluttering up the engine compartment, this isn't likely to be a major issue with most owners. Nonetheless, our satisfaction level was plummeting - fortunately, a test drive turned things around.
15 horsepower is a noticeable difference, but like most intake systems for naturally aspirated engines it's not earth shattering. The engine climbed into its powerband quickly (the 4.6L likes to be revved) and the truck's performance was spot on with other intake systems we've tested. We're partial to S&B brand filtration products and commend Airforce One Performance for not trying to reinvent the wheel; their system uses a conical S&B oiled filter with a unique design that allows flow from the sides and front of the filter. We also were partial to the intake boots, which seem high quality in nature and fit snuggly with the provided clamps. As far as functionality goes, the system performed well.
If system A provides a 10 horsepower increase and system B a 15 horsepower increase, you'll never "feel" the difference between the two and it's therefore impossible to claim that this system performed better than the next. However, we did notice that the Airforce One system favored higher engine speeds than some competitor's systems. Although throttle response was smooth and crisp, the low-end torque wasn't there. We believe the Airforce One system thrives under driving conditions such as passing and freeway merging, which should be expected from the filter's unique, high flow design.
• Mirror finish, stainless steel intake tube
• Quality intake tube boots
• S&B filter provides airflow from circumference as well as nose of the filter assembly
• Crisp throttle response, good all-around performance, improved fuel economy
• Poor fit and finish, intake tube mount allows quite a bit of movement of the entire assembly
• O-ring seal to MAF sensor feels as if it needs to be thicker
• No heat shield, filter open to underhood elements
• Intake tubing arrived dirty, unprepared for installation
• Poor customer service experience from manufacturer
• Support bracket allows filter to bounce considerably
• Oiled filter requires frequent cleaning
Customer service comes second to fit-and-finish, both of which were unsatisfactory in our experience. This is an attractive system that performs comparably to those by other manufacturers, but our grievances largely outweigh the intake's strengths.
Editor's note - It appears that Airforce One Performance has closed its doors and their remaining products have limited availability as of 2016.