You wouldn't think a 40-year-old vehicle could be described as being agile, but that depends on who you ask. If you ask anyone who attends regular autocross meets such as the American Street Car Series' Run to the Coast or our own CHP Nationals event in Commerce, Georgia, you would probably hear few words to describe the cars in contention there, which would undoubtedly probably surprise you. Words like quick, nimble, and yes, maybe even agile. Being able to confidently decelerate around tight curves while maintaining control is an important attribute of a high-performing vehicle, and as long as companies like Classic Performance Products in Anaheim, California, continue to engineer components that make old cars go from sluggish to spry, we will continue to see our favorite old-school Chevy's performances improve on the track and the road.
In the following pages we show off a front and rear disc brake conversion kit from CPP that adapts high-performance disc brakes to street machines, and the car under the knife this time is Ed Borges' '69 Chevy Camaro. We've already baselined his ride with the factory brakes in a series of tests at El Toro Air Base last year and our testdriver, Jason Scudellari, was not impressed with the 9.5-inch stock discs and the tiny rear drum brakes inside 18-inch Boze wheels. Not only do stock brakes and large-diameter wheels look odd at best, but the larger wheels have more leverage on the hub assembly so you can actually lose some braking power there, even with wider tires. Scudellari also said that while at the track he could tell the rear drums would start to fade considerably after heavy driving. The car's stock braking ability simply left a lot to be desired for a high-performance driving enthusiast, but fortunately CPP has exactly what this car needed to make it stop like a champ.
We ordered CPP's C5 conversion spindles (PN CP30013) and front brake kit (6474SWBK-STC5), (which come ready to drop onto the lower control arms) and feature 13-inch drilled and slotted rotors, large dual-piston calipers, and a spindle designed to accept a C5 Corvette-style bearing. These spindles also feature an improved geometry that aids in handling and steering. The rear kit we opted for is CPP's 12-inch disc conversion (PN 6869RWBK-P12). This kit easily adapts to the 10-bolt rearend and is a significant improvement over the stock drums, both in looks and performance. We also installed an MCPV-1 master cylinder from CPP as well, which is a nicely polished, easily installed piece that incorporates a proportioning valve that can be adjusted to vary brake pressures to the front and rear.
Read on as we set out to improve this Z28's braking performance, using components from one of the aftermarket experts in high-performance suspension and braking systems for old Chevys.
Testing the Camaro
We headed down to El Toro Air Base in Irvine, California, to put the Camaro to the test with totally stock brakes, however, it did have CPP's tubular control arms and leaf springs before we got our hands on it. In the 0-to-60-to-0 test, the car's stopping distance would steadily increase after a few tire-barking halts; this was likely from the drum brakes holding heat. The shortest stopping distance with the stock setup was 109 feet.
With the CPP large discs, combined with the Camaro's 18-inch Toyo Proxes rubber, we were glad to knock off close to 60 feet from the car's braking distance, which is not only safer for public driving, but that improvement also translates at the track as well.
|Stock Brake Distance:
|Test 1: 219ft.
|Test 2: 213 ft.
|Test 3: 205 ft.
|CPP Brake Distance:
|Test 1: 162ft.
|Test 2: 154 ft.
|Test 3: 144 ft.
Here's the stock 9.5-inch GM front disc brake and single-piston (215/16-inch bore) caliper setup. We aimed to replace this with 13-inch, drilled and slotted zinc rotors from CPP. As you can see, the owner of the '69 already upgraded the control arms with CPP's tubular versions (PN 6774TCA-ULK-B).
With the axle seals replaced, Jason Scudellari slid the stock axle back in place.
The stock drums are mounted to a tired 10-bolt rearend with 3.08:1 gears. While drums are actually typically lighter than disc brakes, they tend to hold heat and fade rather quickly with minimal on-and-off braking.
Because of a thicker hub from the CPP rotor, you have to replace the factory wheel studs with longer ones.
We learned that a day of cone carving on the hot asphalt can wreak havoc on axle seals; case in point, these were leaking pretty badly and we had to replace them.
Here's a shot of how the caliper bracket is mounted to the axle.
The rear calipers in the PN 6869RWBK-P12 kit are a "floating" design, which is more ideal for C-clip axles; it eliminates issues CPP has found with a fixed rear caliper. These calipers also have a parking brake mechanism built in that's easily hooked up using new cables from CPP.
The front brake assembly features a tall AFX spindle that is designed with a late-model sealed bearing; the ABS sensor pigtail is also in place.
The kit comes with two polished stainless T-clamps that hold the brake line that make the installation doable for anyone without a welder.
With the front brakes removed, the whole front disc assembly from CPP gets positioned onto the control arms and bolted up with the provided castle nuts. However, you do need to remove and bolt up your car's old steering arm from the original discs in order to hook up the steering.
The drilled and slotted rotor sits over the axle hub and the caliper, with the pads in place, and is then bolted onto the bracket.
The master cylinder we opted for is a manual, MCPV-1 from Classic. It features a built-in proportioning valve that allows you to adjust brake pressures using an Allen tool.
For those who don't have room underhood or simply want to move it, the MCPV-1 can be converted to a remote reservoir with the fixture shown on the left.
We picked the red powdercoated caliper for our Camaro, however you'll be happy to know that CPP offers additional color options, including black and silver.
To install the master, you simply position the stock brake lines like so. The factory booster and proportioning valve is also not needed.
CPP's Big Brakes fill up the 18-inch Boze wheels nicely. The Toyo Proxes tires measure 245/35/ZR18s in the front and 285/35/ZR18 in the rear.