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The Inside Scoop On Front Drive Accessory Systems

Posted by Nathan Espinosa on Jun 30th 2020

The V-belt has long been a staple of pulley systems that drive air conditioning, alternators or power steering units. Often running multiple thin V-belts from the engine’s crankshaft pulley to each accessory — known as the front drive system — was standard on older cars. 

But V-belts have their limitations. Over time the thin belts stretch and slip on the pulleys, causing a loss of power and an ear-piercing screech. Multiple overlapping belts also take up a lot of space in front of the engine. 

A more modern serpentine system, such as the Vintage Air Front Runner TM, uses a single longer, wider multi-groove belt and a spring tensioner that provides more grip on the pulley system, reducing the likelihood of belt slip and providing more reliability for high-horsepower vehicles. Plus, the larger serpentine belt connects all of the front-drive accessories to the crankshaft pulley for a more solid and compact system. 

As pioneers of climate control systems for hot rods, Vintage Air prides itself on being the first to develop a high performance-based, all-in-one serpentine accessory drive system - the Front Runner Series TM. Designed more than two decades ago to improve reliability and appearance, the Front Runner design makes it easier to install crank-driven accessories like air conditioning compressors and compact alternators, and provides a clean, well-organized engine compartment. The Front Runners remain the most compact drive systems available.

[caption id="attachment_2981" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The LS Front Runner kit in Bright and Chrome.[/caption]

Swapping a newer engine into a non-native chassis often presents fitment issues with the engine’s accessories such as the alternator, power steering pump and air conditioning compressor. The Front Runner design moves all drive-mounting points to the engine block itself to provide more compact accessory mounting positions. This creates more room below and around the engine for aftermarket parts such as larger intakes, custom headers and cylinder heads.

[caption id="attachment_3000" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The LS Front Runner provides tight and compact fitment for engine swaps.[/caption]

Along with the higher mounting points for accessories, Front Runners are the most narrow design on the market. Front Runners save space by running a more compact compressor and alternator and by standardizing to a high-performance water pump. This increases room for larger aftermarket radiators, intercoolers and custom suspension components when building a high-performance machine or a jaw-dropping show car.

[caption id="attachment_2979" align="aligncenter" width="810"] The LS Front Runner in Bright and Chrome makes your engine stand out and helps it perform better.[/caption]
Designed to look and perform better than factory multi-belt systems, the rigid, block mounted one-piece design of the Front Runner virtually eliminates any harmonic vibrations that would normally damage an OEM steel bracket. Regardless of the application, Front Runner drives can be fitted into most any type of vehicle, including street rods, performance trucks and even offroad vehicles. Milled from 6061-T6 billet aluminum and manufactured in the USA, the system is available in four different finishes: Bright, Bright and Chrome, Black, and Black and Chrome.
                                [caption id="attachment_3011" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The raw forging Front Runner timing cover for small-block Ford engines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2983" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The Front Runner timing cover CNC machined and polished for small-block Ford engines.[/caption]

The Bright finish features a machine-finished bracket with polished compressor, alternator and clutch and tensioner covers, and chrome pulleys. The Bright and Chrome finish adds a chrome compressor, alternator, and clutch and tensioner covers.

[caption id="attachment_3003" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The Front Runner for the LS-series in Black.[/caption]

The Black finish option features a black-anodized bracket and clutch and tensioner covers, a natural-finish compressor and alternator, and black hardcoat pulleys. The Black and Chrome finish option adds a chrome compressor and alternator. 

[caption id="attachment_3005" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The Front Runner for the big-block Chevy in Bright and Chrome.[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_3008" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The Front Runner kit comes with everything to complete the installation, including a power steering and non-power steering option.[/caption]

Vintage Air’s Front Runners have been featured on countless award-winning vehicles and is the leading drive system choice of builders and automotive enthusiasts worldwide. Whether you’re running a big-block Chevy or a larger modern engine such as the Ford Coyote, Front Runner drives provide the most proven solution for a front drive system.

[caption id="attachment_3010" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The Front Runner for small-block Ford engines.[/caption]


Click the link below to see all the Front Runner options, or call us at 1-800-832-6658 and one of Vintage Air’s representatives will walk you through the available options and help you place an order.