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Hagerty Employee

According to you: 11 cool air cleaners to spruce up your engine bay

Although they're far more efficient and power-packed than their V-8 ancestors, most late-model cars just don't have the same kind of under-hood presence as cars from the '80s, let alone the '50s and '60s. We asked our community to tell us their favorite air cleaners, and we are happy to report that there is some clear consensus on what air cleaners look the best.

Wow! Some really interesting and exotic designs and styles.
I wonder how many of these actually provided some performance benefit. Most, I'd guess.

Of particular interest to me was the Cadillac/Olds "Batwing" model.
The article doesn't say much, (or anything) about the internal filter medium in any of the models written about, BUT I can relate an experience with one...

I owned a 1957 Cadillac Sedan deVille, with a 365ci, 300hp V8.
This engine (and engine bay) was so basic that it didn't even have a PCV valve, only a downward pointed vent tube. Its oil filter was a drop-in cartridge.
But my anecdote had to do with the Air Cleaner...

The first time that I went to inspect it, I thought "Man, this thing is HEAVY".
After lifting it clear of the engine, I tilted it, only a bit; and consequently covered myself in oil.
Needless to say, some loud epithets were emitted.
This was before I'd ordered and received the factory Owner's Manual, (from Rick Schnitzler in PA.)
So this was an "Oil Bath" air cleaner.
Live and learn, (in 10w 30w splendor.)
New Driver

GM used them on the LaSalle as well. I run one (converted from oil bath to paper element) on my 64 C10 rat rod.
Pit Crew

My 1957 Massey Ferguson 35 has an oil bath filter, and a crank case vent tube. Both work very well to this day, as this is a working tractor on my farm.
New Driver

I had a 1940 Ford Deluxe V8 that had an oil bath air cleaner. Ford offered options in air cleaners and oil filters back then, including "no oil filter"- which is how my car was built. the oil bath air cleaner was rather small but effective (I think).
Pit Crew

How the finned, oval air cleaner used on dual four barrel equipped Total Performance era Fords (think ‘67 GT500) didn’t make the list I do not know. Major oversight.

First one MIA that I thought of too.
Intermediate Driver

Maybe ‘cause it was so ugly🤪
Advanced Driver

Thanks for the totally worthless reply. You must be a ball at parties ???
Pit Crew

All the ones here are beautiful and classic..Always liked the triangle air cleaner on the tri-power 427 vettes. Had one on my 69 vette 427-400 hp..Would open the hood to just stare at it.
Advanced Driver

My '56 Clipper had the batwing- not just Olds & Cad

Thanks for that! Some I did not remember and I had never seen. Appreciate it
Intermediate Driver

Hudson wins! But that Marauder’s competition.
Pit Crew

The twin-snorkel ram-air set up on the 1971 Pontiac GTO 455 H.O. was an impressive air intake.
Pit Crew

The vacuum flipper under the fiberglass, cowl induction hoods of the AMC Javelins and AMXs was one of the ultimate air cleaner innovations.
Pit Crew

And the 1971 version had dual snorkels as well as the cowl induction/vacuum flipper.
Intermediate Driver

Missed quite a few, Tri Carb Vette, Ford Cobra Oval, Max Wedge, Chrysler early hemis are just a start.
Pit Crew

You forgot the Mopar Cross-Ram of the 60's
Pit Crew

The cross-ram was epic! However, wouldn’t that wouldn’t that be considered to be the designs the intake manifold opposed to the air cleaner?
Intermediate Driver

As JMandhisFOX replied, the round air filters may have kept it off the list, but they did include rather mundane twin snorkels.
Pit Crew

I love the Chrome Race Hemi Air Cleaner above the Dual Holleys on my ‘64 Belvedere!

New Driver

I'm shocked, shocked to find that the so cool gold flying wing air cleaner of the 1955 C300 didn't make the list.
New Driver

Great lineup of air cleaners. - The Batwing air cleaner was also used on 1955-56 Packards.
Intermediate Driver

No L88 Corvette cowl induction hood with the foam ringed air cleaner that sealed to the underside.
Pit Crew

If it was up to me, the air cleaner from the Corvair Spyder would be on this list. There's not a lot cooler than a chrome housing that reads TURBO!
Pit Crew

Another cool-looking scoop hood that was also my first car, was the one-year-only 72 Gran Torino Sport/Ranchero GT, which mainly came with the Cleveland engine, or perhaps the 429. The air cleaner itself was standard, but it was common practice, with mine and others, to remove the plates behind the scoop and switch to an open-element cleaner that made the scoop functional. But in general, the scoop was styled so well into the hood that it was cool even if non-functional. The Mercury Montego GT was the sister to the Sport, and it had its own cool hood scoops.
New Driver

All the "misses" mentioned are noteworthy, but a huge miss was the 1969 Hurst/Olds ram air cleaner with mailbox hood scoops and subsequent (but slightly different) 1970-72 Oldsmoible W series ram air cleaners. Good looking and functional.
Pit Crew

Yes! Plus the 68 with big chrome dish, twin intake hoses going down under the front bumper to intake boxes. Functional, not practical, but very cool.
Also twin snorkel 66-67 Toronado air cleaner and CCC system air cleaner made the engine bay look nice.
Pit Crew

You missed the best one!!!!
(I’m my opinion)
The batwing on the 1955 Chrysler 300 HEMI. That is by far, the most beautiful and epic air cleaner.
And to the purest, stop reading. Im definitely finishing off my 1955 Imperial restore with one as an under the hood upgrade.

You missed the air intakes for the 1969 and 1979 Shelby GT 350s and 500s!
New Driver

How the Corvette fuelie air cleaner did not make the list is a sad oversight.
Pit Crew

WHAT !!!! No AMC S/C Rambler !!!!

One of the best and most functional. If you look at early Pro Stock scoops very similar design. Vacuum operated when you floored it opened up so rain did not get in when normal driving. Plus with lettering of "AIR" in an arrow pointing to scoop it knew where to go.
Pit Crew

There are some real iconic examples on the list, this would be a good subject for a full blown article. One of my personal favorites is the Stelling &Helling round units that were used on big block Cobras.
New Driver

Trans Am wind tunnel tests in the late sixties proved the wisdom of the reverse hood scoop design. Positive air pressure from the front of the windshield is greater than at the center of the hood where air rides up and over the front of the shaker. There is a ‘73 Trans Am advertisement graphic that shows the areas of positive and negative airflow over the car. I’ve seen leaves make an about face and get sucked into mine which is open of course! Those Pontiac engineers got it right again, thanks guys!
New Driver

That was my understanding as well so I opened mine up as well. Not sure if it made much difference but seemed to have good torque from about 2500-5000 rpm. ‘78 T/A 6.6 litre with 4 speed and 3.42 axle.
Intermediate Driver

The 1964-1966 Pontiac G.T.O. "tri-power" air cleaner assembly should be on this list. It looks so good that you wish you didn't have to shut the hood in order to drive the car.
New Driver

The ‘65-‘67 had the Ram Air intakes and hood scoops. I am modifying a ‘64 Lemans hood with a Ram Air hood scoop and air cleaner pan for my Tripower. 

Intermediate Driver

'65 GTO get's my belated vote.
Pit Crew

CoolToys TV host Doc Josh has the batwing on his matte black Ford bodied Mopar powered Rat Rod. Sadly I can’t post a pic. It is one cool air cleaner sitting on a Hemi.
New Driver

I've always been partial to the 56/57 Corvette dual quad air cleaners. Trim and they appeared to be functional. Lovely sound when when you jumped on it.
Pit Crew

Where's the Olds 4-4-2 Ram Air hood scoop? Come on man...
Pit Crew

And don’t forget the dual quad air cleaner on the 57 e-code Thunderbird.
Intermediate Driver

How about those three chromed "bullets" for the three side draft carbs on the 1953 and early 1955 six cylinder Corvettes? They weren't much of an air cleaner though as they just kept out the big chunks. They changed to a twin pot three carb hook up in late 1954 and 1955 six cylinder Corvettes that was a real air cleaner. That was an interesting looking set up as well.
Intermediate Driver

Correction. The first sentence should read "early 1954" and not "early 1955". Sorry about that.
New Driver

This wasn't on the list, but my favorite is the 55-57 Cadillac dual quad air cleaner. However, the twin H power is a very close second!
Intermediate Driver

I understand that only about 100 of the 1958 Mercury 3x2 setups with the cast aluminum air cleaner were actually sold
Pit Crew

Great choices. I always liked the 65-66 Chevrolet L-79 dual snorkel. Very distinctive.

Mopar "Shakers" number one forever ...

Especially with all the EV craze coming full speed ...

I completely AGREE !!! The SHAKER IS KING OF THE PILE !!! RUNNER UP-ANYTHING HEMI…THEN the Six Pack’s PAK Air Cleaners…

Back to the ANYTHING HEMI Air Cleaners….Chrysler developed the HEMI to help win WWII initially with an experimental engine for the P47 Aircraft then developed it into the M47 Tank as an air cooled V12 (imagine those air cleaners). The HEMI ENGINE was introduced to the general public in 1955 initially as a Marine engine sporting a “Dual Quad” in Chris Craft (imagine that air cleaner) along with its automotive debut in Chrysler 300’s. Every air cleaner from that point on was spectacular on the HEMI. Chrysler ran the HEMI engine from that point on in both Chrysler and Dodge. It wasn’t until 1964 that the HEMI was introduced in a Plymouth. That folks, was when production horsepower FEAR hit the masses and still RULES roaming the earth to this day, Less PLYMOUTH. HANG ON FOLKS !!! Direct Connection is once again getting involved! Once again thanks for the great article