All too often, in the game of project cars, room for improvement is always available; it’s practically inevitable. This hobby allows for the slightest opportunity for wrenching to snowball into a day of all-out upgrades. Besides, who likes sticking with average? When it comes to upgrading, consumers have got a ton of products to choose from. For some, upgrades happen purely out of necessity, others for fun, or when the budget allows for it. The privileged just can’t wait to get the latest and greatest offerings in the aftermarket, and who can blame them?
Unlike the aspects of the past, though, there are a myriad of companies that provide solutions to the guessing games of the past. One such company is Concept One. If you aren’t familiar with Concept ONE, they offer some of the industries finest accessory mounting kits for small- and big-block Chevy’s in a modern serpentine system. What’s more, Concept’s line of components provides a custom look and feel with off-the-shelf availability; a complete package not matched by many.
For us though, our install consisted of a well-liked but somewhat mysterious upgrade—the serpentine drive belt system. If you’ve ever fussed with a multi-belt design in the past, then hanging the alternator, power-steering pump, and other drive accessories to your GM small-block could prove a bit challenging.
Prior to aftermarket performance powerhouses like Summit and Jegs and availability of serpentine kits, that meant scouring the wrecking yards for OEM brackets and guessing at the alignment of the V-belts and the clearance of each accessory.
This turned the weekend project into a small treasure hunt to turn up the correct items for a complete build. We can safely say, though, that most of those days are long gone.
A modern serpentine system completely eliminates the need for multiple belts and squashes any concern for fitment. First introduced in GM vehicles during the mid-‘80s, the serpentine system is more efficient than the older multiple belt systems. It’s become an industry standard on all modern cars and trucks.
The beauty of Concept ONE's serpentine kit lies in its flawless design. The Victory Series keeps the A/C compressor, alternator and power steering pump cleverly tucked within the boundary of the engine block. No matter if you’re into street rods, late-model trucks, or in our case, a mid-‘80s Camaro, Concept ONE’s kits will fit a variety of applications. What’s more, their all-inclusive kits come complete. This means less down time and more fun on the road.
Each Concept ONE Victory Series kit includes:
- Ultra small polished Sanden SD-7 compressor with billet manifold
- A new Delphi aluminum power steering pump
- An Edelbrock waterpump
- A heavy-duty 105 amp polished Powermaster one-wire alternator
- A crank pulley, waterpump pulley, alternator pulley, and power steering pulley
- A complete alternator, power steering and A/C compressor bracket set
The Single-Belt Advantage
Serpentines use a single, wide belt to drive all the accessories instead of thinner V-belts. Additionally, they require less space to operate and produce higher tension, which also reduces slip. Consequently, less slip means longer belt life, extending your initial investment.
For fit and finish, Concept One made sure to take their Serpentine kit one step further. They’ve made sure to add in beauty caps to their belt-driven accessories. They’re easy to install, too. Simply snap them into place and you’re done.
What’s more, serpentine systems are also much easier to maintain and replace. Their tight, clean, and simplistic design makes it the perfect addition to free up engine bay real estate and power, and the perfect opportunity to turn our bland engine into a modern-day runner.
With a completed, ready-to-fire Dart 440ci small-block awaiting installation into our project car, we were after a more modern approach.
Sure, the standard V-belt design would have sufficed but we were after something that could take the punishment of high horsepower and the occasional abuse from open track days and test & tune nights.
After calling Concept ONE, owner Kevin Redd dialed us in. Redd turned us onto their Victory Series pulley system that contains everything needed to mount the three most common accessories like the power steering pump, A/C compressor, and the alternator. Of course, it’s all spun by one belt in one seamless kit. Redd explained, “We really focus on how the systems fit and have worked really hard to make sure our kits fit without having to make modifications and assure each kit is clean and neat.”
Each Concept ONE Victory Series kit includes an Ultra small polished Sanden SD-7 compressor with billet manifold, and new Delphi aluminum power steering pump. An Edelbrock waterpump is also included as well as a heavy-duty 105 amp polished Powermaster one-wire alternator. Of course, the kit wouldn't be complete without the crank pulley, waterpump pulley, alternator pulley, and power steering pulley. Not done yet, Concept One also includes a complete bracket set for the alternator A/C compressor, and power steering as well as the alternator pulley cover compressor nose cover. Goodyear Gatorback belts and tensioner with chrome hardware completes the kit.
Concept ONE even offers up two more finishing choices and include the option for a machined finish or the opportunity to have all of the hardware and brackets delivered in a black or clear anodized finish.
Although we began with the front of our small-black already bare, the removal process is easily completed with basic hand tools. At powerTV headquarters, under the technical hands of Sean Goude, we installed the entire Victory Series onto our Dart 440ci small-block before midday. Our final touch was adding the serpentine Gates belt to complete the package. Of course, you’ll have to stay tuned for when we drop the new powerplant into the car and test the system.
Installing The Concept One Kit
Our in house tech-guru, Sean Goude, took the reigns on our Concept ONE Conversion install and got right to work. Using the supplied studs, he applied a small dab of Loc-Tite (Blue) to the ends of each thread. This would prevent the threads from backing out of the water ports and ensure the studs stayed in place.
Following the supplied instructions, Goude installed three of the studs into the water ports, and installed the longest stud in the passenger side water port.
We made sure to add all the necessary highly-polished pulley's and installed the alternator fan to the accessories. Concept One has left no stone unturned.
From there, Goude went ahead by installing the main brackets for the serpentine kit. The “Y” shaped bracket hangs onto the passenger side studs with the rectangular-shaped bracket hanging off of the driver side studs. It’s also important to note that each bracket must have the O-rings installed on both sides.
A small amount of white grease may help to keep the O-rings in place as you install the brackets. With the studs in place, and O-rings set into the brackets, we could install the waterpump onto the front of the block.
The brackets simply slide over the studs and are held in place with the supplied hardware. We used a 7/32-inch Allen socket to lock each bracket into place onto the block.
Up next were the four individual spacers, which thread onto the studs coming out of the block. The ends of each spacer have also been machined with threads, too, so additional brackets can be mounted. We’ll get to those later, for now, we went ahead and installed the lower crank pulley with the supplied hardware and locked it all down with a 1/4-inch socket.
Just add a couple of the included polished bolts and the entire bracket with alternator can be installed in no time flat.
Concept ONE has done all their homework on these ingenious serpentine setups. Each component works seamlessly with one another and attaches with all the supplied hardware.
The power steering pump installs on the lower side of the drivers side bracket. Using the supplied spacer (round-shaped) we lined up the holes and set it into place. To install the pump, we used a 1/2-inch socket and locked it down for final assembly.
Next item in the kit is the driver’s side bracket, which supports the alternator. It’s been cleverly designed to look great underneath the hood of your project car. Moreover, all the bolt holes have been clearanced and ready for install. This means all it takes to get this bracket onto your motor is adding the supplied hardware.
Goude went ahead and used a 5/16-inch Allen socket and locked the bracket into place. Then, Goude installed the supplied Powermaster Alternator with additional hardware.
The best part, once the accessories are installed, they don’t have to be adjusted for slack in the serpentine belt.
In all, this means the entire setup can be entirely bolted on, installed, and ready to run.
With the drivers side accessories mounted, Goude moved over the passenger side and went right ahead and installed the A/C Condenser accessory bracket. This bracket holds and supports the A/C condenser. It, too, installs with the supplied hardware.
Goude threaded in the necessary bolts and locked that bracket down with a 5/16-inch Allen socket. Once that was complete, he installed the required spacer, which is placed below the condenser and sent the bolt through for completion.
Utilizing the spacers we installed previously to secure the waterpump, Goude lined up the accessory A/C bracket and bolted it into place. On the right, Goude locks in the manifold.
These trick spacers from Concept ONE do more than just look cool. They properly space the A/C and Alternator brackets away from the water pump. They’ve also been machined to fit a 5/8-inch open-end wrench, which makes install a breeze.
Concept ONE has made sure to include all the necessary components with their Victory Series serpentine kit. Case in point, the Goodyear Gatorback belt. One of the benefits from running a serpentine kit is having the advantage of using just one belt.
Goodyear Gatorback belts provide a longer service life with less noise than the traditional Poly-V belt design.
By absorbing the shock and vibration transmitted from the crank pulley, the belts can help your harmonic damper to better reduce harmful vibrations. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get the belt on to view the final product.
However, first Goude had to install the serpentine belt tensioner. With just one bolt, the tensioner is quickly added to the entire setup. Then, Goude wrapped the belt around the upper accessories and over the bottom crank pulley.
Then, using the 1/2-inch adapter end of a ratchet, torqued the tensioner (loading the internal spring) and slipped the new belt into place for final-that’s it! There’s no tinkering with the final adjustment with a system that uses a belt tensioner. The tension is automatically adjusted with the internal spring.
The included A/C manifold was a breeze to install. Simply remove the factory cap from the A/C condenser and bolt the highly-polished Concept One unit on using the supplied hardware.
With a quick flick of the wrist, Goude installed the tensioner bolt and then used the open end of a ratchet to swing the tensioner down and allowed the Gatorback to sit correctly on the pulley.
Although not sporting the belt at this point, it’s easy to distinguish the quality in these components.
Once the belt was in place, its clear through the final product that Concept ONE make some seriously-nice serpentine components.
So far, we’ve had nothing but good things to hear from people walking by our install. We can’t wait to get this entire engine with its new serpentine kit planted into the car. Stay tuned, we’ll have a complete install of this engine soon enough.
For more information, be sure to click on Concept One for availability, options and pricing. Concept ONE has got a ton of kits to choose from!
A complete set of highly-engineered components has turned our bland Dart 440ci small-block into a real head-turner.