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AutoRad Cooling System - Cool Runnings
AutoRad Has A Way To Beat The Heat And Look Good Doing It.
Oct 1, 2010
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Best of Show Coachworks
San Marcos, CA 92069
Gainesville, GA 30506
Maradyne Mobile Products
Cleveland, OH 44135
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AutoRad Cooling System - Cool Runnings
Our plan is to modify our Detroit Speed closeout panel to work with our new core support, but we wanted to see how the AutoRad three-piece system fit. As you can see, the fitment was great, and it looks pretty damn good!
Here's the complete AutoRad system. The base system includes the radiator, fabricated aluminum core support, and overflow tank and has an MSRP around $1,200. In addition, they offer a three-piece filler panel kit for $200 as well as dual electric Maradyne fans (with shroud) for $400. Polished is also available, but we're fans of the satin look.
If you're running A/C, they will add on an A/C condenser and custom mount it for $200. Our orange '68 doesn't run A/C so this will be shuffled over to the Track Rat project for use with its Vintage Air system.
Here was our starting point. There was just enough clearance in front of our throttle body to run the air intake-barely.
Before the new stuff could go in, the old had to come out. First up was unbolting the fenders from the GM core support.
We then pulled the upper valance and the grille and the headlight trim rings.
The headlight buckets were attached to both fenders and the core support came out as a complete unit.
With the lower valance out of the way, we then had full access to the original core support. This meant it was time to drain and remove the existing radiator.
Here you can see how much larger the AutoRad radiator is compared to one built to fit the factory core support. According to AutoRad, the unit offers 40 percent more surface area than a stock radiator and 20 percent more than most replacement radiators. Their radiators are handcrafted and 100 percent TIG welded from 0.090-inch aluminum. They are also vacuum brazed rather than epoxied. Inside are two rows of 1-inch cores, but if you have a big heat-generating engine, they offer 1.5-inch tubes for another $400.
When removing the core support from a car it's very important that the fenders be supported. If not, they could sag down and (especially if your gaps are tight) hit the front of the doors, causing paint damage. To prevent this, we used these adjustable stands to keep everything in place.
With the fenders supported, we unbolted the core support from the inner fenders and removed the Detroit Speed solid bushings that connected the core support to the frame.
With that done we could then remove the GM core support.
As you can see, the opening on the AutoRad core support is way bigger than what's found on the factory piece. We also liked that the radiator was now centered on the car rather than offset to the left the way GM did it. The aluminum core support came in a bit lighter than the steel stocker, but the radiator is a touch heavier, so we consider it awash in the weight department.
The new core support simply bolted in where the stocker used to reside. We were also happy to find that all the boltholes lined up.
AutoRad did say that the bracket for the subframe bushings may need to be shimmed depending on the car. You'll know right away if the top of the core support isn't even with the upper fender bolts.
The Best Of Show crew then attached the fans to the radiator and set it in place. It was close, but the larger AutoRad unit did fit between our framerails. It definitely takes maximum advantage of the available space. The Maradyne M142K low-profile S-blade fans each produce over 2,000 cfm, so adequate airflow will be the least of our concerns.
OK, we've seen this done wrong several times (including once by us) so pay attention. The natural tendency is to attach the hood latch to the outside of the core support like was done on the factory unit. But that's not the way it was designed. On the bottom side of the upper core support rail there's a slot, and the latch inserts inside this slot. It's then bolted in place using the supplied countersunk bolts and lock nuts. Because of this, the radiator can't be bolted to the core support until the hood latch is in place.
We then finished attaching the hood latch to the front valance.
With the latch in place, we secured the new AutoRad radiator to the core support using the stainless hardware they provided. Since these fasteners were going into aluminum, we dabbed them all with a little antiseize. One unexpected added bonus was that we gained over 2 inches of clearance between the front of the engine and the radiator. This extra space can make running an air intake system much easier, especially on front-fed LS applications.
And here's the new core support and radiator in place. All we had to do now was reinstall the headlights, grille, and lower valance.
From a functional standpoint, the new system will easily cool our big-inch LS engine no matter how hard we beat on it. Aside from that, it just looks killer! Next up will be designing an oil cooler system as robust as what cools our H2O, and we have an idea that will utilize the tabs AutoRad installed to hold the A/C condenser.
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Web exclusive content of the history of the LS engine which includes the LS1/LS6, LS2, LS3/L99, LS4, LS7, LS9 and the LSA, only from GM High-Tech Performance Magazine.
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