Can bigger brakes make an older car perform like a modern machine?

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Mar 18, 2024 | Toyota, brakes, MR2, Big Brake Kit | Posted in Shop Work , Suspension & Handling | From the June 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Photography by J.G. Pasterjak unless otherwise credited; Lead Photograph by Chris Tropea

Your brakes are the most powerful speed-changing devices available. Regardless of how much power you make, even the most mediocre brake system can convert speed into heat quicker than your powerplant can turn fuel into speed.

Upgrading your brakes represents a highly effective way to make your car perform better. The results? Faster laps and more fun.

But brake upgrades don’t always …

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Comments
docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
5/20/22 9:04 a.m.

I'd be far more worried about a small boutique shop going out of business and no longer having access to parts vs being able to get parts from an OEM...

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
5/20/22 9:12 a.m.
docwyte said:

I'd be far more worried about a small boutique shop going out of business and no longer having access to parts vs being able to get parts from an OEM...

Valid point. There are parts that I want that were made by folks who arent around anymore (ie: Kolfkatz and their LS430 monoblock brake adaptors for the SW20). 

That said, Im not sure if there's much in that kit that is very boutique. Plus, IF (and I hope it doesnt happen to anyone), a bracket broke - there are multiple companies offering the brackets for these Wilwood calipers. Beyond that, Im not sure anything else is not off-the-shelf stuff or orderable from WilWood

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
5/20/22 9:13 a.m.

How do the wilwood pads compare to the yellowstuff?  I see "premium street pads" (yellowstuff) and "mild track pads" (wilwood) being compared.  Is this apples to apples?

Would the stock setup have held up lap after lap with a set of true track pads on it?

hunter47
hunter47 Reader
5/20/22 12:00 p.m.
docwyte said:

I'd be far more worried about a small boutique shop going out of business and no longer having access to parts vs being able to get parts from an OEM...

They're most likely Wilwood calipers/Wilwood COTS parts + a custom bracket. I think you can easily make a template for the custom bracket with the existing one, and/or get someone to make it for you. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/20/22 3:19 p.m.

In reply to docwyte :

The consumables and whatnot come from Wilwood, so we should have no problem getting pads and rotors–or even new calipers. Wilhem is supplying the adaptors while engineering the kit. If we wear out the brackets, I think we have bigger issues here. 

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
5/20/22 3:51 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

Ok, that makes more sense.  The impression I got from your article was everything was bespoke except the Wilwood calipers.

edmagoo
edmagoo New Reader
5/20/22 4:39 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

I do wonder about race brake pads in stock calipers instead of replacing everything with Wilwood. The 2nd gen non-turbo Rx7 has much better stock brakes than the MR2 but the Rx7 cannot race on stock pads. It probably can't race on 'mild track pads' but the stock Rx7 calipers can easily race on race pads. I have had no problems in 4 hour endurance racing without any ducting or modifications to the brakes.

Of course it is not pleasant at all to try to run race pads on the street. They stop fine but grind the disks to dust in very short order. (not to mention all the iron rust dust coating all over the wheels)

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
5/20/22 10:43 p.m.
docwyte said:

I'd be far more worried about a small boutique shop going out of business and no longer having access to parts vs being able to get parts from an OEM...

I hear ya, but I also really like the idea that a smart guy with a good idea for a limited market can design and build his own stuff to leverage more mas produced pieces from a larger manufacturer and serve a community that otherwise wouldn't be served. 

I mean, that's kind of what we do here. Why would you support this small, family-owned independent publication when you could be reading something safe and stable like Road & Track?

I feel like in the future, with small volume manufacturing becoming more and more affordable, many of the things we love will be kept alive by independent craftspeople serving highly specialized markets. I'm all for enjoying the fruits of economies of scale, but given the choice between crappy brakes, or great brakes that happen to utilize parts from an independent maker, I'll just make sure I get that guy's cell number for when the website goes down.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
5/20/22 10:45 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to docwyte :

The consumables and whatnot come from Wilwood, so we should have no problem getting pads and rotors–or even new calipers. Wilhem is supplying the adaptors while engineering the kit. If we wear out the brackets, I think we have bigger issues here. 

Yeah Alex makes the brackets and the rotor hats. Theoretically I think you could use some off-the-shelf hats, but the sizing would limit wheel choice on a vehicle that already has frighteningly little choices.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
5/20/22 10:48 p.m.
edmagoo said:

In reply to ProDarwin :

I do wonder about race brake pads in stock calipers instead of replacing everything with Wilwood. The 2nd gen non-turbo Rx7 has much better stock brakes than the MR2 but the Rx7 cannot race on stock pads. It probably can't race on 'mild track pads' but the stock Rx7 calipers can easily race on race pads. I have had no problems in 4 hour endurance racing without any ducting or modifications to the brakes.

Of course it is not pleasant at all to try to run race pads on the street. They stop fine but grind the disks to dust in very short order. (not to mention all the iron rust dust coating all over the wheels)

I can't stress enough how tiny and inefficient the stock rotors are. Paired with single-piston calipers at each corner, the stock braking, even in an idealized form, is pretty substandard. With some gnarly race pads, you'd probably have good brakes for a while, but the contest would be between whether you'd set the hubs on fire or grind through the tiny rotors first. 

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