Cold air intakes. You’ve heard about ‘em from your friends during coffee breaks, which means you’ve probably heard the boys verbally sparring over the age-old debate: K&N vs Spectre. But, what is a K&N, and what is a Spectre, you’re asking? Spectre or K&N? Finkle or Einhorn? Never fear. AutoAnything is here to put that question to rest.
Now, no one is denying the fact that cold air intake systems are one of the best ways to boost your ride’s horsepower, torque and throttle response. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. A cold air intake shovels massive amounts of air into your engine. All that extra air makes the combustion process (those explosions in your cylinders) run double-time. In short, oxygen is the key to transforming your gas pedal into a lethal weapon with a hair trigger.
The Benefits of a K&N Air Intake System
So many horsepower heads turn reflexively to K&N because of the company’s history. They invented high-flow cotton gauze air filters some four decades ago in Riverside, CA. Once they mastered filters, they began developing their legendary line of intakes, which includes the FIPK, the Typhoon and the K&N Aircharger Kit.
Most of their kits, including the 2012 Mustang K&N kit, are crafted from high density polyethylene (fancy speak for plastic). This helps keep the tube, and the air inside, cooler since it doesn’t transfer heat like metal tubes. Plus, all intakes, like the S2K K&N cold air intake, are custom engineered for a perfect fit on your engine. So swapping out your shotty stock intake with a deluxe 2007 Maxima K&N intake is a breeze.
Although no one really wants to hear about manufacturing techniques, open your ears for this nugget of knowledge. K&N uses an advanced mandrel bending process when building the intakes that have metal tubes. What’s a mandrel and why should you care, you ask?
Think of your finger as a mandrel and some Chinese handcuffs as the intake tube. When you imprison your fingers in the tube and bend at the joint, the cuffs flex and change shape, yet they never crush or grow smaller in diameter at any point along the bend. This uniform internal shape allows air to flow freely through the tube without restriction, giving intakes like K&N Engineering #57-2566 an edge over lesser intakes. Also, K&N intakes come with a 1,000,000-mile warranty.
The Benefits of a Spectre Air Intake System
How many companies can actually claim to have started from a garage? Spectre can, and apparently some geeky upstart called Apple. It all started back in 1983 when a car-obsessed dude began making and hawking NylaBraid out of his not-too-pleased parent’s garage.
From those humble beginnings, they have expanded their range to include a high-flow line of Spectre air filter products and Spectre air intake kits for a wide range of vehicles. How wide of a range, you ask? Not as wide-ranging as K&N’s selection, but still very impressive. Let’s just say that if you need to buy a Spectre air filter for a 2010 Camaro, you’d have no problem finding one.
Unlike K&N, all of the intakes that Spectre builds use a mandrel-bent, chrome-finished intake tube. At the tip of these tubes are cotton gauze air filters, so they share all the same basic ingredients as K&N.
Also, each Spectre cold air intake is backed by a Lifetime Warranty, which is not so different from K&N’s 1,000,000-mile warranty.
What's the Best Cold Air Intake for You?
Bolting one of these under the hood of your street machine is going to guarantee a big boost in performance. A lot of the decision comes down to which company makes an intake for you auto and which sticker you’d rather have in your rear window: a K&N or a Spectre. The choice is yours.