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Dual Plane vs Single Plane Intake Manifolds Explained

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How Do I Choose an Intake Manifold?

Just like creamy vs crunchy peanut butter, the single plane vs dual plane intake argument will go on as long as we have fuel to burn in our internal combustion engines. However, unlike that peanut butter argument (creamy for me thanks!) there is a real rhyme and reason to why you’d want to use one intake manifold over the other. Both style of intake manifolds has their benefits and drawbacks, so knowing what you want from your engine build and the intended use will lead you in the right direction to pick the best intake manifold. For starters though on our dual plane intake vs single plane discussion we’re going to provide you with a little “intake 101,” so pull up a chair, class is in session.

What is A Dual Plane Intake?
Speedway Motors offers several dual plane intake manifold designs, including this SBC (small block Chevy) version.

Most enthusiasts will be familiar with the dual plane style of intake manifold. As its name implies, it relies on two separate intake planes or plenum areas, essentially making it work as if it had a separate intake for each half of the engine’s number of cylinders. Most factory intake manifolds are dual plane, which is where this familiarity comes from. However, aftermarket aluminum intakes, such as the ever popular SBC intake manifold, are designed with larger ports and better flow, which along with the weight savings, makes them a worthy addition to any street going engine build. You can find dual plane intake manifolds from Holley, Weiand, Speedway Motors, and more for your project.

Due to the two separate plane’s air volume and generous runner length, dual plane intakes are known for creating more low end torque. Remember, torque is king on the streets. Many dual plane intake designs feature a “low rise” runner design, creating a compact intake with a low carb mounting pad which is great for hood clearance but usually tops out useable power in the 5,500 rpm range. Going to a mid- or high-rise dual plane intake manifold, if your hood clearance allows it (B-T-dubs, we also sell hood scoops!) will increase that rpm limit to as much as 6,500 rpm. Dual plane manifolds are also good for use in some racing applications, especially when the engine cubic inches are relatively small, and the RPM range of the engine is limited to about a max of 6,500 rpm.

Dual plane intake manifolds are best used for:

  • low speed performance, throttle tip in driveability, and better air/fuel distribution
  • street carburetor usage out of the box with no tuning (changing jets, etc.)
  • broader torque curve with max power under 6,000 rpm
  • mild street gears and stock torque converter
What is A Single Plane Intake?
Edelbrock offers many single plane intake manifolds, like this SBF (small block Ford) Super Victor model.

If you’re thinking a single plane intake manifold has one common plenum area that feeds all the runners simultaneously, you would be correct. Single plane intake manifolds are more common in higher rpm racing applications such as circle track and drag racing. That said, there are cases where a single plane intake manifold works well on the street. This is the case with high horsepower engines with a large displacement, such as the popular stroker engine. A stroker engine provides plenty of low end torque as it is, overcoming the low speed air flow issues of a single plane manifold. Adding the single plane manifold to such a combination (especially with a high stall converter) will help add high rpm horsepower to the combination over the same combination fitted with a typical street-friendly dual plane manifold.

Using a single plane on a smaller displacement street engine, such as a with a Chevy 327 or Ford 302 single plane intake manifold, may not be the best choice since the engine doesn’t produce nearly as much torque down low (this is why these small V8s came from the factory with dual plane intake manifolds). Most single plane manifolds are a medium to high rise carburetor pad design, so hood clearance will need to be carefully measured to ensure it will fit under the hood of your car or truck. We offer single plane intake manifolds from brands such as Edelbrock, Speedmaster, and others.

Single plane intake manifolds are best used for:

  • peak rpm performance where low speed/rpm use is limited or not important
  • creating an even air/fuel mixture to all cylinders to prevent a lean cylinder condition
  • raising the max rpm range of an engine, typically 500 to 1,000 rpm or more can be had
  • focusing the horsepower and torque peaks closer together in rpm
  • steeper rear gears and a high stall torque converter
What Is Needed to Change an Intake Manifold?
Speedway Motors offers many dual plane and single plane intake manifolds in kit form with gaskets, mounting bolts, and more to make the job easy.

Replacing your factory intake manifold for a performance replacement intake manifold is quite often a cut and dried remove and replace operation with a bit of gasket scraping/cleaning in between. However, some intake manifolds may require longer fasteners, or different gaskets than your factory manifold would call for. To avoid confusion and delay (not to mention ruining your Saturday because you can’t get your car back together in time for the cruise night!) we offer many of our intake manifolds in kit form that include gaskets, fasteners, and more to make the job of installing your new intake manifold stress free.

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