Reader Question: ’76 Trans-Am Breathing?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Guy writes: This is England calling! Just been having a look at your drive around in your car and looks great by the way; we are looking to purchase a ’76 TA shortly and was interested in the modification to the back plate on the shaker – windscreen facing – and the way it opens and closes. I think you mentioned there is a kit available to retro fit this; what are the advantages as to removing this pate entirely and maybe having it open? Your input would be gratefully received. Also my friend has a 1979 TA SE in gold; can this modification be adapted to that too?

My reply: Full article here, but here’s the synopsis: The ’73-76 TAs came with essentially the same shaker scoop as the ’70-72 cars, with the difference being the “flapper” mechanism was deleted from the ’73-76 cars and replaced with a metal plate that boarded up the formerly scooping scoop. The original functional scoops were actuated by a solenoid that opened the flapper when the driver floored the gas pedal. The ’73-76 scoops can be made functional using either the original parts – if you can find them – or by using a kit such as the one I wrote about in the article linked to above).

You can arrange it so that the flapper opens similarly to the original, using a switch/solenoid. Or you can use engine vacuum (as I did) to have the door open as the engine’s vacuum increases, which I prefer because it makes the engine seem as though it is literally breathing.

The kits come with a working/hinged flapper that replaces the original block-off plate, which is easily removed from the scoop itself and without damaging it (in the event you ever wish to restore it to original).

The ’77-81 cars have a different scoop. It’s smaller – and the main issue here is that making it functional is a permanent thing. These never came with a functional flapper; the whole assembly is a single piece of fiberglass and in order to make it functional, the rear (where the aftermarket flapper assembly goes) must be carefully cut out and the new frame for the functional flapper epoxied in place. Once this is done, it will be essentially impossible to return the scoop to “factory.” If that matters to you.

On the rest: I would not leave the scoop open all the time – by removing the block-off plate – for several reasons.

One, on very cold days, it will make the engine harder to start and longer to warm up.

Two, it will allow rain and other such to get into the air cleaner assembly.

Three, it’s not as much fun as watching the flapper open up – and hearing the Quadrajet moan!

Please send us pics – and keep us posted!

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