In today’s world, high-horsepower sports cars with outputs of 700-plus ponies aren’t unheard of. Those massive engines need oxygen to breathe and just as much air to keep them cool which is one of the main reasons the faces of most performance cars are more vents and air ducts than actual bodywork. That said, hood scoops, air ducts and radiator vents are nothing new, and they’re no longer strictly for the performance car sector. Now that they are commonplace across almost all segments, performance-minded or not, it’s worth looking at some of the best hood scoops and air ducts of all time. Consider this a reminder that just because adding intakes is standard practice, doesn’t mean that designers shouldn’t put in the effort to make them outstanding.
1984 Ferrari Testarossa
When it comes to air intakes, the Ferrari Testarossa ‘cheese graters’ might be the most famous of all. Two massive rear-mounted radiators and, in certain countries, regulations against large openings on cars, forced the hands of Pininfarina designers, but it worked out to everyone’s benefit.
1970 Plymouth Road Runner 440+6
The optional extra Mopar “Air Grabber” was fairly rudimentary looking. But, for 1970, the dash-mounted actuator switch and cartoon graphics visible when opened were all kinds of cool.
1984 Ford RS200
The RS200 has a few scoops and vents, but none are cooler than the roof-wide, top-mounted intake that feeds the Rally legend’s 300 horsepower mid-mounted engine.
1991 Bugatti EB 110 SS
Even though the EB110 sports a few different ducts over the rear-wheels, it’s the gathering of “holes” that’s most significant. The seemingly unnecessary amount of holes (ten altogether) aren’t individual intakes, but break up the monotony of plain, open scoops. Plus it just looks damn cool.
1993 Porsche GT2
By integrating air intakes into the rear wing of the first-generation GT2, designers were able to keep the Porsche 911’s famously smooth lines. It’s a sharp contrast to the current 991 GT2 RS, which is littered with vents.
1992 McLaren F1
Normally, the idea of a roof-mounted intake for a mid-engine car is an awful idea. But, not only is the McLaren F1’s intake sleek and good-looking, designers saw fit to put in a rear window anyway, Albeit split by the intake duct itself. Visibility was still awful, but hey, at least they tried to make it work.
2001 Lamborghini Murcielago
The Murcielago was the first Lamborghini unveiled under Audi-ownership. As such, you can understand why the V12 supercar has a certain air of German sophistication and less Italian ostentatiousness, compared to its Diablo predecessor. The best example of which is the hidden-until-needed temperature-actuated intake vents over the shoulders.
1987 Ferrari F40
All the intakes and low-drag NACA inlets aren’t pretty in their own right, but if the F40 didn’t have 10 of them it would look naked.
1970 Plymouth Cuda
Mopar has a great track record when it comes to optional extras. The ‘Shaker’ scoop gets its name by being separate from the hood, directly bolting to the engine causing it to shake when the engine is running.
2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400
Unlike the Murcielago, the Countach was not shy about its vents.
2016 Bugatti Chiron
Not only does the door-sill-to-roof inlet double as the radiator and air intake, the C-shaped ‘Bugatti Line‘ is also the cars signature chatacter line.
1966 Mk II Ford Shelby GT40
The original Ford GT40 was incredibly sleek, but when Carol Shelby got his hands on it, bolted in a big block V8 to go racing, the monster was going to need to breathe. To help aid power and cooling the MkII GT40 was given a few more curves with the addition of a couple of larger intakes on each side.
2005 Subaru WRX STI
The hood scoop is synonymous with the Subaru WRX STI. It reached new heights (literally) in 2005 with the second generation Impreza. An extreme feature sadly brought back down to Earth in 2007 for the next generation STI.
Ken Block’s Hoonicorn/ Hoonicorn V2
Ok, so this may be cheating, but the ‘bug catcher’ style scoop over the Hoonicorn V1’s velocity stacks is straight industrial. And when Ken Block first built the Hoonicorn V2, the massive twin turbos originally had mesh screens to stop debris getting sucked in, but, ironically, the screens ended up getting sucked in themselves — because the turbos were that powerful.