The saying we often use around the shop is, “It comes out nice, ‘cause we do it twice.” Sometimes that’s because we screw it up the first time, but mostly because it’s often a good idea to take a dry run at putting together a pile of parts. Such was the case with the Vintage Air Front Runner drive system for Project Orange Krate, our ’71 Camaro. Right now the car is in paint jail, but once sprung, it will be stuffed full of LS3 stroker goodness and fitted with a Vintage Air pulley serpentine drive system. But before shipping the engine off to Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, we wanted to see how the system fit together outside the car where fenders, radiators, and engine bay clutter makes it hard to see how everything gels. And while the provided instruction sheet is pretty thorough, nothing beats hands-on experience.
The two major benefits to the Front Runner system are strength and its compact design. Their truss-type mounting system won’t flex out of shape during “spirited” driving and manages to arrange a water pump, power steering pump, alternator, and A/C compressor into the tightest package possible. This really helps when trying to fit an LS engine into a car it wasn’t designed for. There’s also a third benefit: the system looks killer. The kit is offered in three configurations: power steering with pump, power steering without pump, and non–power steering. They also offer the kit in a bright finish ($2,695) and in black hard coat ($2,595). To see how this stack of parts fits together into a rock solid drive system, we grabbed our Front Runner kit and headed over to JR Competition Engines in Escondido, California, for some quality wrench time.
Stuff You Will Need to Get the Job Done:
12-point SAE Sockets
12-point Metric Sockets
Power Steering Pulley Installation Tool
Balancer Installation Tool