For the sake of argument, let's say you're building a 700hp street car. What would the perfect fuel system be if you could have anything you wanted? At the top of our wish list would be easy to install. Right after that, we'd want it to be inexpensive, really quiet on the street, stock-looking when seen from behind, it should fit on any car no matter how offbeat, and it would be capable of handling hard cornering and braking without starving the engine. Tough, but not impossible—you just have to throw the "inexpensive" part out the window. Or do you?
When companies come out with successful new products, their acceptance usually rides on filling some kind of overriding need that previous products haven't sufficiently addressed. In the case of Aeromotive's Phantom fuel system—awarded SEMA's coveted Best New Product award at the 2013 SEMA show—we have the exceedingly rare situation where a new product addresses multiple shortcomings in a vehicle system that typically has more than its fair share of design obstacles.
This is not a slight on other fuel systems, but more an admission of the tough technical challenges faced by engineers. Perhaps it's the fact that Aeromotive has designed and manufactured fuel systems exclusively, but over the decades they've met the challenges of building fuel systems head on, whether that's been for demanding customers on the tech line, or for their own race cars and street machines.
Whatever aha moment gave birth to the Phantom 340 Stealth fuel system (PN 18688, $537.97 through Summit Racing), it must've been a doozy. For starters, it took us less than an hour to transform an ordinary $150 replacement fuel tank (Tanks PN TCR11C) into a fully sumped, race-ready fuel system capable of supplying up to 1,000 hp on a carbureted, naturally aspirated engine. That never happens to us. Through the magic of well-engineered parts and a slick aluminum template, the job of building out a race fuel system has almost been reduced to the level of kindergarten art project. Our only complaint is that they didn't think of it sooner!
Starting with a new stock fuel tank, all you do is drill a 3.25-inch hole in the top of your tank somewhere near the rear. Aeromotive includes a multipurpose aluminum template to help scribe the hole, to drill the fuel pump mounting holes, and to help install the foam sump by being used as a funnel. The sump itself is ingenious. A foam tube made from the same stuff used in fuel cells holds fuel in its body like a sponge while allowing fuel to pass into and through it without sloshing. It literally acts like a protective lagoon that sits in the center of a pounding ocean. The yellow foam tube is enclosed on its bottom half by a flexible yet rugged boot with small fuel slots at the bottom. Again, the idea is to allow fuel movement into and out of the foam tube sump, holding fuel near the pump pick-up in every scenario a car can dish out—be it cornering, braking, or accelerating.
The foam sump is long enough to be used in tanks as deep as 12 inches, and this foam must be cut to the proper height—1 inch greater than the fuel tank depth—prior to assembly. Likewise, the fuel pump hanger is cut to the depth of the tank before the Stealth 340 fuel pump is mounted to it. The foam sump is held in place as it expands against the shape of the tank, and the pump hanger assembly is positioned inside the protective environment of this cylinder-shaped foam sump. An attractive black-anodized billet aluminum pump assembly bolts from above to a C-shaped mounting ring with 10 studs on it. This clever ring goes inside the tank and is held in place by the pressure of the expanded foam. The sealing integrity of the whole thing is enforced by a flexible, compressible piece of foam rubber that easily conforms to the ribs, curves, and bends found in the shape of most tanks. What you have when you're done is a high-g-capable stock-looking fuel tank with a built-in sump and a super-quiet pump that can feed anything this side of an 8-second Super Stock Hemi car.
Aeromotive's Phantom 340 Stealth fuel system converts any gas tank into a high-performance, high-g capable fuel system for less than $540. Using a new fuel tank, our conversion took less than an hour.
We started with a new fuel tank from Tanks (PN TCR11C, '68-70 Mopar A-Body, $150). Use a hole saw or a jigsaw to cut a 3.25-inch diameter hole for the Phantom fuel pump assembly. Don't forget to deburr the edge and vacuum out any shavings with a shop vac.
Part of the genius of the Aeromotive Phantom fuel system is the tooling fixture they provide in the kit. At this point, it's used to index and drill the 10 mounting holes in the tank using the provided drill bit in the kit.
Our Plymouth Valiant tank measures 10 inches deep, which tells us how long we need to cut the Stealth's fuel pump hanger (10 inches), and how long we'll have to cut the foam sump (the tank depth plus 1 inch, 11 inches total). Note how the hole is located atop a flat portion of the tank.
Using scissors, we cut the foam sump to the recommended depth—in our case 11 inches. The foam material will hold fuel around the pump without sloshing, and the black boot at the bottom (which has slits at its bottom) will act as the actual sump, keeping ample fuel at the pump's pickup.
Using the aluminum tooling fixture again, the foam sump is folded up and passed through the hole. The fixture is tapered, easing the foam through the hole without rips or tears. It also keeps you from cutting yourself during the exercise. Once it's through the hole, it's a matter of moving the foam into the ideal position below the hole.
The C-shaped retaining ring will sandwich the tank between it and the pump assembly. If you drilled the holes precisely from the tooling fixture, the C-shaped retainer ring will slip right in.
The pump hanger in the Phantom 340 Stealth kit is designed to work on tanks up to 12 inches deep. For tanks more shallow than that, it will need to be shortened to the depth of your tank. Here, ours is being cut with a bandsaw to 10 inches.
Some assembly is required for the fuel pump because the depth of the tank will vary. Once the hanger is cut to length, you'll cut the fuel feed hose to length, attach the white plastic 10-micron pre-filter to the pump, cover the pump body with the rubber vibration isolator sock, attach the Stealth 340 pump to the fuel feed hose, then clamp the pump to the hanger. The last job is to snap the pre-terminated electrical harness to the pump.