Older cars, especially cars made in the sixties and seventies, came with carburetors to mix the fuel and the air as it went into the engine. Many of these cars had what were considered performance carburetors on them, but today some carburetors can add much more performance and are far more dependable than those earlier carburetors were.
How Big Is Too Big?
The carburetor on your engine needs to work with the components inside the engine to get the most out of it. A carburetor that is too large or has to much air and fuel flow can cause the engine to run worse, not better. If you had a single barrel (small economy) carburetor on the car, adding a performance carburetor like a four-barrel carb that increases the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air and fuel to the engine may not be the best choice.
Add a smaller carburetor that has slight increases in flow and performance then as you can upgrade the engine and the carb to get more power when the time is right. Even a small increase in the mix from the carburetor can make a significant difference in the way the engine runs.
Selecting a Performance Carburetor
When you are considering putting a performance carburetor on your muscle car or vehicle with enough engine to handle it, choose carefully, and look at the reviews and specifications for the parts. Some performance carburetors are easy to put on and run great out of the box; others need tuning and can be harder to put on yourself.
Large CFM carburetors often have two accelerator pumps on them so that the fuel flow does not drop off when the gas pedal is pressed hard. These carburetors are commonly referred to as double pumpers and are hard to tune without the right equipment.
If you are considering a carburetor like that, it is a good idea to have an experienced tech install the carburetor for you and dial in all the settings to the engine responds appropriately, instead of falling down under the load of the additional fuel-air mix.
Shopping By Brand
Some people shop for performance carburetors by brand because they feel one is better than the other. In the current performance market, the carburetors are not a lot different, but some stand out. Take some time to read the reviews and talk to techs or the manufacturer to figure out what features you need and what performance carburetor is best suited to your car, truck, or hot rod.