In general, cars today are qualitatively pretty damn great. They're generally faster, more efficient, safer, more comfortable, and just about everything better than how they once were. But they're also so goddamn serious about it.
This wasn't always the case. For a brief, glorious period in the 60s and 70s, some automakers knew that they were making some faintly absurd products, but they also knew enough to know this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And that's how the world got the "Incredible Quivering Exposed Cold Air Grabber," the absolute best-named factory add-on in all of human artifice.
The "Incredible Quivering Exposed Cold Air Grabber" was Mopar's name for what Ford and GM called a "shaker hood"— basically, a fresh air intake mounted directly to the engine's air cleaner housing right on the carb, and exposed to the world via a nice little hole cut in the hood. Since it was mounted to the engine and not the bodywork, it would shake and dance as the car idled and you applied throttle, hence the name.
What's great about this accessory, other than the name, is how wonderfully, willfully showy the thing was. Sure, it pulled a bit more cool air in, from a somewhat better location, but the differences weren't really dramatic. It's not some magic scoop that crams a huge amount of air into the engine— they call those turbos— but it didn't hurt, and sure looked fun, getting all agitated there in its little hatch.
It was an option purely for fun, with no attempt at overly technical pretense or anything like that— hell, it was a Quivering Grabber, words normally associated with sex offenders in the midst of alcohol withdrawal. It's exactly the kind of thing that I think the mainstream automotive world could use more of. An ability to take yourself less seriously, and do something just because it's fun.
Actually, in some ways, these sorts of things can have more benefits today. Back in the muscle car era, engines had plenty of room in their massive under-hood palaces. Today's packaging means that more and more engines are crammed like intestines into tiny cavities. One of the results of this is that in some situations, engines have less than ideal intake and exhaust paths.
Take the 2.0-liter turbocharged fourbanger in the Malibu Turbo. In the Malibu, it's mounted transversely and makes 259 HP. If it was mounted longitudinally, like it is in some other GM cars, the less crunched intake and exhaust paths can give the engine as much as 30 more HP. That's a lot of horsies.
I suggested maybe an option package with at least a hood scoop to open the intake path (and big side-mount exhausts) would be a good idea. They looked at me like I was a drooling moron. I'm pretty sure I wasn't drooling much.
So a modern Quivering Exposed Cold Air Grabber, Incredible or not, could actually have some real benefit and would go a really long way to making a very boring car much more fun. I don't think Mopar would give up the I.Q.E.C.A.G name easily, so GM'd have to think of their own. But that's fun. Look: Fresh Air Sucker Trough (FAST) or maybe Air Intake Ram Hood Entry Access Device (AIRHEAD).
There's lots of silly things about cars today. 300+ HP to get groceries and kids? Absurd. But fun. Lots of fun. It's time to admit it.