Front Drive Guidance – The Latest in Front-Drive Kits and Accessory Brackets and Components
Stock brackets and bulky accessory components hanging off the front of a hot rod engine just don’t cut it much of the time these days. Not only are most OE components unattractive, but many factory front drive systems and parts simply won’t fit in the tighter confines of a muscle car or between vintage frame rails. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions for getting those accessories in place and looking good in the process!
No matter what engine you’re running, at least from a V8 perspective, there are complete front drive kits that include all new accessories, or even individual brackets to relocate components to help with underhood packaging. For most popular late-model engines, there are kits and parts that help replace electric power steering with a hydraulic pump as well as positioning the alternator, compressor, or even to drive a supercharger pulley.
The great thing about going with a single kit is that you receive a system that has been engineered for fit, form, and function. Mixing, matching, or pulling brackets from swap meets here and there can lead to frustrating belt alignment issues, poor operation of the accessory due to the wrong pulley ratio. and other headaches. Sure, the price point for a complete system may initially set you back, but when you add up the costs for each accessory with the brackets and how it’s a bolt-in-and-go package, the benefits can easily be seen.
We scoured the industry to see what was new and popular in the world of hot rodding accessory drives – check it out. The winter months are a perfect time for these types of upgrades!
Mesa, Arizona-based Dirty Dingo has been studying LS and LT engine swaps for years and has a vast number of products and bracket solutions to get you through any modern GM engine swap. Their LT4 Front Engine Accessory Drive kit is ideal for 2014-and-up LT Gen V engines using a factory ZL1 Camaro or CTS-V LT4 balancer. Both sides of the alternator/power steering bracket and A/C bracket are machined from 1/2-inch billet stock down 3/8-inch to ensure accuracy for the best belt alignment possible.
Speaking of the belt, Dirty Dingo uses an eight-rib serpentine belt for this high horsepower application. There are multiple mounting hole locations for the idler pulley allowing for different diameter supercharger pulleys. The kit also includes eight-rib pulleys for the steering pump, alternator, idlers, and tensioner. Note that a Sanden 4711 508 compressor must be used, and a remote steering reservoir is required. If you have other needs to mount or move an accessory, check out Dirty Dingo.
Whether you’re working on a GM LS engine, Ford FE, small-block Mopar, or even a Cummins diesel, All American Billet has a Serpentine Drive Kit for you. Not only will their systems clean up the engine compartment, they also come complete with high-quality components and hardware and are made in the USA.
All the brackets of American’s Billet Serpentine Kits are CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and are available in machined, polished, or their exclusive Silverline Series finish. Kits come with two options of pulleys: the classic with no cutouts, or their distinctive style with triangular cutouts. They also offer a flex fan option that includes a 17-inch CCW rotation stainless steel fan for anyone that doesn’t want to run an electric unit, plus a 250 amp alternator can also be added to most kits.
Tech Tip #1
Most front drive accessory kits will be a straightforward installation. Be sure to have a torque wrench on hand and you may need a couple special tools such as a balancer removal/installation tool.
Vintage Air pioneered the performance accessory drive system in 1999 with their Front Runner kit and their latest system is designed to help make swapping to an LS or LT1 even easier. The heart of their latest Front Runner is a USA-cast water pump housing that has integrated mounting points for the A/C compressor, alternator, and power steering pump. The low-profile water pump assembly features a replaceable billet aluminum high-performance water pump cartridge and is designed to clear OEM and most aftermarket throttle bodies.
Thanks to the cast-in mounting points, there are no additional brackets creating a low, sleek drive assembly. The heater hoses can be routed through the side or bottom and there’s a tapped boss for a temp sensor. The kit includes a new harmonic balancer, pulleys, compressor, power steering pump, 170-amp alternator, tensioner, drive belt, and polished stainless hardware. Available in polished/chrome or black anodized finishes with separate versions for dry sump engines.
Lokar has always understood how to deliver top quality with great looks and their LS Classic Accessory Drive Kits deliver on both of these elements. These systems are designed to follow the early F-body and truck beltlines with a vintage style that looks right at home under the hood of most GM classics and muscle cars.
These kits utilize a spring-loaded tensioner and a single six-rib serpentine belt to drive all of the accessories. Each bracket is cut from billet aluminum and finished in a semi-gloss black powder coating. A Detroit Speed GM Type II power steering pump, high-capacity Sanden 709 air conditioning compressor, and 180-amp Powermaster alternator are all included in the package to finish your early LS system right.
Tech Tip #2
One important reason to choose a drive system that really tucks the accessories in tight is to add some balance and detail to the engine compartment. Or, as in this extreme example, have room to run twin turbos and the related plumbing!
The Right Brackets
When installing a new crate motor or vintage engine into your hot rod, custom, or classic car or truck, finding the correct mounting brackets for your front accessories can be a real challenge. Alan Grove Components has provided quality, affordable mounting brackets for hot rodders for over 35 years.
Alan Grove Components offers more than 100 different applications to help mount the A/C compressor, alternator, and power steering pump on all sorts of engines, including small- and big-block Chevy, LS, Ford, Buick, six cylinders and more. All brackets are hand crafted in the USA from 1/4- or 3/16-inch mild steel, and all welding is TIG and cooled in fixture to prevent distortion. Give AGC a call to speak with a bracket specialist about your application.
Ever try to piece together the brackets, pulleys, and proper accessories to put together a serpentine system for your engine? Save yourself the time and hassle with a complete system from Holley. Their latest systems are based on a bracketless water pump assembly that secures the alternator, A/C compressor, and power steering pump. This design brings everything in for a compact, clean assembly.
Holley offers their mid-mount kits for most GM LS/LT platforms, SBC/BBC and even the Gen 3 Hemi! You’ll receive a new high output alternator, SD7 compressor, GM Type II power steering pump with baffled reservoir, hardware, and everything else to finish the installation. For the SBC model shown, the thermostat bypass and heater ports are all recessed in the back of the pump for a clean, cool look! It’s all in the details.
Tech Tip #3
Whatever system you decide on, make sure to read the instructions or talk with the manufacturer before installation so you’re prepared with the right tools and components. The March Performance Revolver series kit for Pontiac V8s requires that a ’69-or-newer 11-bolt timing cover be used.
Avoiding Frame Rails
Dropping an LS engine into your classic is a lot like mounting any other engine but there’s always a couple surprises when it comes to mounting accessories like the A/C compressor or power steering pump. Speedway Motors has come up with a couple bracket solutions to solve the issues without scouring junk yards or having to step up to an all-new system.
The Bill’s Hot Rod Co. 1100 Series LS Drive Kit includes brackets that relocate the alternator, power steering pump, and compressor to a higher position on the engine but keeps everything well below the hood line of most vehicles. This frees up the front lower sides of the block and clearance into the chassis of your classic car or truck. The brackets come completely assembled with stainless steel bolts and washers, an illustrated instruction sheet with belt size recommendations.
Working on a small-block Chevy and planning to run the creature comforts of A/C and power steering? Summit Racing has assembled a serpentine system that is strong, looks good, and best of all, won’t break the bank.
Summit’s Complete Serpentine Drive Systems is exactly what it sounds like – a complete system featuring a CNC-machined 1/2-inch thick alternator and A/C compressor mounting plate with positive belt adjusting holes. Completing the lineup is a 105-amp alternator, a Sanden SD-7 A/C compressor, GM Type II power steering pump and high-flow water pump with a serpentine belt and mounting hardware. They even supply pulley covers to finish the installation in polished or black kits.
Tech Tip #4
Many drive kits are supplied with, or based around, a new water pump designed to work with the complete system so be prepared during the installation. This small-block Chevy pump that comes with Vintage Air’s Front Runner system is set up as a reverse-rotation pump to work with the belt routing.
Wegner Automotive knows how to make horsepower, serious horsepower, so they set out to design their own Front Drive Accessory Kits to meet the demands of their LS, LT, and Coyote builds. Each kit is CAD designed for maximum strength with emphasis on pulley belt wrap to ensure no slipping, then CNC machined in-house.
Each system is supplied as a complete kit down to the idlers, pulleys, covers and stainless steel fasteners. Wegner focuses on versatility so their systems can easily be adapted to superchargers, dry sump oiling systems, A/C delete, and just about any application. Two of their most popular systems are the WAK04x and WAK07x series for the Corvette and Camaro offsets that pair to superchargers from Whipple, Harrop, Magnusun, and other designs.
Drive Junky is a Dallas-based custom manufacturing shop with a sharp focus on accessory drive kits for late-model GM engines. Everything is machined to fit properly with no spacers and each system is designed to provide the most clearance to fit classic muscle cars, trucks, and vintage frames. To get an idea of their design capabilities, just check out their Street Monster Serpentine Blower Drive for the high-powered Gen 5 LT4.
This system is designed for wet sump engines (contact them for dry sump applications) with the supercharger belt being shortened and simplified for improved longevity and reliable performance. Drive Junky supplies Gates racing belts that are made with low-stretch polyester tensile cords as well as top-end accessory components from Jones Racing, ATI, Edelbrock and Powermaster. Be sure to check out their other drive kits for the LT5, LS series, and LT trucks like the new GM L8T crate engine.
The factory supercharged Chevrolet LSA crate engine has been a favorite powerplant for serious performance builds. Billet Specialties offers their proven Tru Trac system to help builders finish the engine with the right driven accessories in a compact and great-looking kit.
The kit is comprised of two drive belts, one for the supercharger and the other for the accessories to help ease tension on accessory bearings and components. As one expects from Billet Specialties, all the brackets and pulleys are CNC machined for superior strength and anodized black for great looks. The pulleys of the tensioners and idler receive a special hard anodized finish to resist wear. Each system is supplied with a genuine Sanden compressor, Powermaster 170-amp alternator, Edelbrock water pump, GM supercharger tensioner, Continental belts, and a Tuff Stuff power steering pump along with stainless steel fasteners.
Tech Tip #5
Chances are you’ll be replacing the crank pulley/balancer assembly. A specific removal and installation tool is the best way to accomplish this, and you should be able to rent the proper tool at a local parts store.
Fit for Fords
Every serpentine pulley system that Concept One engineers is designed to work perfectly on your engine, including modern muscle engines as well as classic Ford or Chevrolet V8s. Each kit is built for strength, precise belt alignment, and the correct pulley ratio so you can be sure the alternator, compressor, and power steering pump are being driven accurately for their ideal performance.
Concept One was one of the first companies to offer an engineered pulley system and that experience shows in each kit. Their systems are also designed to look great, adding loads of aesthetic appeal when you open the hood today or 10 years from now.
Six Ribs or Eight?
The S-Drive serpentine system is available with a six- or eight-rib pulley configuration adding even more strength to Eddie Motorsports’ unique drive assemblies. The eight-rib belt and pulleys are capable of handling up to 33-percent more torque and power. Not only do the setups from Eddie handle high-output engines, they also look as good as they work!
All of their kits are available in raw machined, hand polished, a bunch of powder coat colors and even a new Cerakote option. Each application includes a one-wire Powermaster 170-amp alternator, Sanden D7 A/C compressor, PRW water pump, and GM Type II pump for use with a steering gear box or rack and pinion. A new Pro Touring kit has a redesigned power steering assembly that increases the belt wrap to reduce slippage and has a larger pulley to underdrive the pump, eliminating fluid aeration or throwing the belt during high-rpm use.
Tech Tip #6
The power steering pump pulley may also need to be installed. These are likely to be a press fit and again require a special tool to do the job right.
We’ve looked at a lot of drive systems for late-model GM engines, so how about something for Mopar fans? March Performance has the modern Hemi covered! Whether you’re swapping in a 5.7L, 6.1L or 6.4L Hemi, March Performance has you covered with their Style Track system which is based on a strong and slick-looking one-piece bracket for the alternator and compressor. A separate bracket secures an optional power steering pump while three separate idlers guarantee the ultimate in belt wrap, creating a no-slip operation.
The Style Track is supplied complete with an alternator, A/C compressor, and water pump, pulleys with nose cone covers, the crank pulley, and March’s trick belt tension adjustment tool. March has all of your Mopar needs covered going back to small and big blocks, as well as systems for Ford, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and even AMC engines.
For fans of the classic Chevy small or big block, Chevrolet Performance offers a complete front drive system that won’t break the bank. Better yet, you can rest assured that you’re getting a factory-designed system that will fit and function like one from a (then new) truck.
Both setups, SBC and BBC, are as complete as a kit comes, from the long-style water pump and 105-amp alternator to the power steering pump and CR4 AC compressor. Holding it all together are factory cast aluminum brackets along with a proven tensioner and belt. These are original pieces from before the LS engine rampage and what it may lack in polished, billet pizazz, it makes up in budget and overall function.
High & Tight
Sometimes OEM engine accessories don’t fit quite right into a classic which is why Kwik Performance, Inc. developed their High & Tight drive bracket system for LS swaps in C10s and OBS GM trucks. The High & Tight A/C bracket mounts the smaller Sanden SD7B10—7176 compressor right in front of the passenger side cylinder head solving the low factory compressor clearance issues with frame rails and crossmembers.
For the driver side, the factory alternator and power steering pump can be used, but their bracket positions the idler pulley under the alternator which means almost any passenger or aftermarket intake manifold can be used. Also, the PS pump has been moved up and in, solving clearance issues between the frame and steering box. The High & Tight brackets can be purchased separately or together and require either a truck or LS3 Camaro harmonic balancer and water pump.
Tech Tip #7
New hardware will almost always be supplied with complete systems. Be sure to lay out all the new fasteners and even walk through the “parts included” list with the instructions to get an idea of how many and where each bolt is used. This will save you time and aggravation…(don’t ask how we know).
Fans of Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs (even AMC and Cadillacs) have a lot of different choices for accessory drive systems at CVF Racing. The New Prague, Minnesota, based company has a long list of all-inclusive kits for most popular hot rodding V8s and even for Cummins 4BT and 6BT diesel engines.
Their Wraptor 8 Track Serpentine System is available for most B-O-P engines and is based on a stout eight-rib belt to increase grip, reduce stretching and prevent slippage. Each kit incorporates a spring-loaded Gates tensioner to ensure proper tension and fitment around their billet machined pulleys under hard acceleration and decel. Kits are supplied with stout CNC machined aluminum brackets, new accessory components and CFV backs their systems with a Life Time Warranty.