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A front drive system to make LT1/LT4 engine swaps much easier


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The huge aftermarket support for the LS-series of engines has us a bit spoiled. Swapping an LS into just about anything is nearly effortless these days, so when GM launched the new LT series of engines we knew we would have to make some adjustments. The new LT engines offer some really cool innovations, such as direct injection, but there are challenges as well. The main obstacle was the fact that no LT engines (LT1 or LT4) runs a belt-driven power steering pump. New cars have transitioned to electric power steering pumps, but grafting that system into a classic is expensive and complicated.

What was needed was a way to integrate a hydraulic power steering system onto an engine that was never designed to accommodate it. Enter Drive Junky. They have been churning out LS and Gen I drive systems since 2012 and were quick to start figuring out how to make a swap-friendly drive system for GM’s new line of LT engines. In addition to solving the power steering issue, Drive Junky wanted to integrate a Sanden A/C compressor that would play well with aftermarket A/C systems, like those from Vintage Air, and clear the obstacles found when doing engine swaps.

But Zach Schary, owner of Drive Junky, didn’t want to just make a GM-style drive system with power steering. He wanted to make a stronger, better looking system that would eclipse what the factory offered in every way. The brackets are all 6061 billet aluminum and are polished before being hard anodized. As Zach told us, “We utilize heavier stock and machine away more material than our competition. This minimizes additional parts (spacers) needed and results in a better, stronger fitment. This is more expensive and labor intensive than the ‘plate and spacer” tech you see elsewhere, but our goal is to have the highest quality kit possible.”

We had an LT1 engine for a swap project and have been working through the requisite learning curve of the new LT architecture. To make things even more complicated we had bolted a Magnuson supercharger to the top and had to deal with one more very critical belt. After talking with Zach we felt he had a fix for our problems, so we ordered a kit and set about getting our blown LT1 closer to installation.


1. Our LT1 came to us from Chevrolet Performance with a Corvette-style water pump and damper. So, first up was to sell them (surprisingly easy since they were on backorder new) and buy the Camaro water pump and ZL1 LT4 damper. This install is for an LT4 kit since our LT1 is topped with a Magnuson Eaton-based blower. Drive Junky does make a kit for the naturally aspirated LT1 as well as the ever-popular LS platform. The kit can also accommodate an ATI overdrive damper and overdrive blower pulley; up to 15 percent for max power.


2. We really like the design of the Drive Junky brackets since they seemed like they would be very sturdy. As Drive Junky’s Zach Schary told us, “Our brackets are cut from solid blocks of billet 6061 aluminum instead of the more common ‘thin plate and spacer technology’ often seen in the industry. We also package our fasteners with the associated brackets to eliminate guesswork and make the install go faster. When the pulleys and brackets are cut the way we do, it allows greater accuracy, fewer parts, better more consistent belt alignment, and long term reliability.”


3. First up was the alternator bracket. Before installing, we removed and relocated the small wire bracket that was attached to the driver-side head. The two-piece alt bracket mounted to the LT engine using two M10 85mm and one M8 85mm stainless bolts. All the stainless bolts in this installation were dabbed with a bit of antiseize.


4. The Powermaster single-wire 170-amp alternator was then secured to the bracket using two M10 65mm bolts and a pair of stainless locking nuts.


5. Moving to the passenger side of the LT, we prepared to install the tensioner bracket by removing the three factory bolts (red dots). These hold the water pump to the engine, so by doing one side at a time we didn’t have to worry about the gaskets.


6. The tensioner bracket and idler assembly were then installed using three M8 stainless fasteners. All of the billet 6061 aluminum brackets and pulleys are polished before being hard anodized.


7. The Gates heavy-duty tensioner was then installed using an M10 85mm fastener. The tensioner indexed to the bracket by way of a small pin on the rear that locked into a corresponding hole on the bracket.


8. Next up was the idler for the supercharger. There was a small stainless shim with the idler and it’s critical that this be used between the pulley and the boss on the water pump where the blower idler mounts.


9. After installing the blower belt idler we made sure it spun freely. All of the idlers feature a dual-bearing system that runs on unique stainless steel axles. This makes them ideal for high-rpm and long-term reliability.


10. Like the tensioner bracket, the power steering pump bracket used three water pump bolt locations. It was installed using two M8 85mm bolts on the bottom and an M8 90mm bolt in the top spot. Getting a power steering pump is one of the biggest advantages of going with an aftermarket pulley kit such as this.


11. We were pretty happy when we found that the aluminum GM type-II power steering pump already had the billet pulley pressed on. This saved us a time-consuming step, which would require an installation tool.


12. The pump bolted to the bracket using three M8 30mm stainless fasteners. To access these bolts the pulley has two holes in it. One is for the 12 and 6 o’clock positions and the other is for the bolt at 9 o’clock.


13. Another bonus that we really appreciated was that the Sanden A/C compressor came fully assembled and ready to bolt to our blown LT1 engine. If you look close at the A/C bracket you’ll notice two threaded holes for the main drive-belt tensioner.


14. The A/C compressor assembly was then bolted to the lower passenger area of the LT engine using one M8 and one M10 fastener. We’re pretty sure that it couldn’t get any easier than this.


15. Remember those two holes in the A/C bracket we mentioned earlier? Well, we used them to install the tensioner for the accessory drive belt. One advantage with this kit is that the supercharger belt only drives the supercharger and nothing else.


16. Since this LT isn’t installed in the Chevy yet we wanted to keep the compressor sealed up so we skipped installing the fitting block for the A/C lines.


17. The accessory drive belt, as the name implies, only runs the water pump, A/C compressor, alternator, and power steering pump. The kit comes with Gates’ RPM racing belts. These are made from a high-modulus, low-stretch polyester tensile cord with the strength to transmit load more accurately and with less vibration.


18. Last to go on was the blower belt. Now, this kit was designed to work on an LT4 engine, but our Magnuson uses a larger blower pulley so the included eight-rib belt was too short to work. We ended up grabbing a Gates K080496RPM belt that was the right length. If you order one of these kits from Drive Junky make sure you tell them exactly what engine combo you’re running so they can include the proper length belt.

Holley LT1/LT4 Swap-Friendly Oil Pan
The Drive Junky pulley system solved our power steering issue, but the oil pan that came on the LT1 was another installation obstacle to get past. The sump shape didn’t want to clear our crossmember and the large plate-style oil cooler interfered with the beautiful Ultimate Headers that came with our Art Morrison Enterprises chassis. The solution was this new wet-sump LT1 oil pan (PN 302-22) from Holley. It ditches the large side-mounted oil cooler and has a swap-friendly sump shape.


19. The Holley pan is cast aluminum like the GM pan, but the shape is far more conducive to swaps into classic Chevys. The Holley pan can accommodate up to a 4.000-inch stroke and has all the OEM bellhousing attachment points.


20. We went with the race version that had a trap-door baffle system. They also offer a slightly less expensive version (PN 302-20) that has a traditional anti-slosh plate. The pickup sealed to the pan with an included O-ring.


21. Once the baffled sump was in place we could install the included windage tray and the rest of the parts.


22. Fun fact: The new GM LT engines don’t use an oil pan gasket, just a large bead of RTV. We’re not sure if this can be considered progress. However, we are happy now that we can bolt on both of our headers and that our blown LT1 will clear our AME chassis.

Photos by Steven Rupp


Art Morrison Enterprises
Fife, WA 98424
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Ventura, CA 93003
Chevrolet Performance
Drive Junky



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