In the world of hot rodding, there are two kinds of people: those that will only use old-school parts, and those that realize the benefits of modern upgrades. Unless you’ve been locked in your garage tuning your Chevelle, Nova, or Camaro’s dual-quad tunnel-ram setup for the past dozen years or so, you’ve surely taken notice to the throngs of LS swaps occurring. Kevin and Randy Redd of Concept One surely have. These gentlemen have been designing upgraded accessory-drives for many Chevy and Ford applications and have kits for the budget-minded as well as the “gotta-have-the-bling” crowd.
If your hot rod has an LS engine transplanted under the hood, welcome to the 21st century. These engines are not only more powerful (in stock form) than the traditional Gen I small-block, but they’re also lighter, don’t leak as easily as previous small blocks, and are far more efficient. Basically, It delivers everything a hot rodder could want. While undertaking an LS swap, many have learned that these engines don’t bolt in to a Camaro, Chevelle, or Nova without modifications (i.e. the accessory drive).
Introducing The Budget Option
While there are quick and expensive ways to mount an alternator, power-steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor, the guys at Concept One wanted to let you in on a little secret: They also have a kit designed to cater to the budget-minded person. Enter the Driver Series.
“The Driver Series is basically the same as the Victory kit without the bling,” says Kevin. “We exchanged the fancy, cosmetic parts so we could lower the cost for the guys that want a nice looking kit, but are more concerned with drivability, function, and saving a little money. Instead of using a billet aluminum power-steering reservoir, this kit uses a plastic reservoir. We also put less expensive – but nice – air-conditioning connectors on the kit, and eliminated the compressor-nose and alternator pulley cover.”
“We have developed what we call the Driver Series of pulley systems to go along with a market shift that we have seen in the last few years,” Kevin alludes. “These systems are intended for guys that are building what we call “drivers” that want great performance and drivability, but not all the fancy show-car stuff.” But, why even bother installing a serpentine belt kit? V-belts have been working for years.
A Belt Is A Belt, Right?
Automotive manufacturers switched to using serpentine belts many years ago. This was done because they are easier to maintain and last longer – especially if you’re running multiple accessories.
If there is a benefit to using a V-belt, it is the deeper groove of the pulleys can help keep the belt in place if the alignment is slightly off. Since V-belts are smaller than a serpentine belt, the pulleys also tend to be smaller, making things a little more compact. They can also be used in any orientation – vertical, horizontal, etc. But, having various belts to maintain is a hassle and more expensive than a single serpentine belt.
The wider, multi-rib design of the serpentine belt provides better belt-to-pulley contact which helps reduce belt slippage. With most serpentine systems, only one belt is used, and there will be less distance between the accessories. This simplifies the engine compartment. serpentine belts also use a spring-loaded tensioner.
Both styles of accessory drives are good in different situations. If you are looking to create an engine bay that has a truly modern look, a serpentine belt is the ticket. If you want to keep the original style, V-belts will be the way to go.
If you’re building a classic muscle car or street rod using an LS engine, the Concept One kits are just what the doctor ordered. For starters, they include the accessories like water pump, alternator, power steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor. There is no need to hunt for the pieces you need to complete your accessory drive. Open the box, and you have it all. In case you are wondering why you need to replace the water pump with the Concept One kit, “We use the Tuff Stuff water pump, because the stock water pumps have a pulley that is pressed-on and does not line up with our systems,” Kevin explained.
We understand that fitment in non-mainstream hot rods can be a concern for many people, but Kevin added this, “if we have not personally tried a particular, one-off vehicle fitment, we have kit dimensions listed on all of our kit pages so enthusiasts can measure and see if the kit will fit in their particular engine area. While we know it’ll fit the engine, the car could have constraints we don’t know about.”
We were curious about how an install would go and how well the finished kit looked, so we decided to see for ourselves. The Redd brothers were nice enough to allow us access to the Concept One facilities to see one of these kits first hand. The kit is supported by a compact bracket system that works in conjunction with a small SD-7 air-conditioning compressor, aluminum power-steering pump with plastic reservoir, 165-amp Powermaster one-wire alternator, the required pulleys, belt, and a Tuff Stuff water pump. Although this is a no-bling Driver Series, upgrades are available.
We learned this is an install you can complete in a day using simple hand tools. But, there are a few things to keep in mind. You will need to supply the power-steering and A/C hoses, as well as a thermostat and housing. LS engines came with different style thermostat housings, and the Concept One instructions tell you which one you need. They also have a nice billet housing you can order. Concept One can also supply you with the power-steering hoses. However, the A/C compressor connections are not something Concept One handles, and you will need to have them made.
If you’re looking for an LS accessory drive that doesn’t break the bank, we have found just what you need, the Concept One Driver Series.