Everyone wants to go faster. That's the whole idea behind hot-rodding a vehicle. Our competitive nature nags for speed-more than the guy in the lane next to you-but from a vehicle systems point of view, adding more horsepower leaves deficits in other areas of the car, such as the cooling, suspension, and braking systems.
Road racers know the inherent value of a good set of brakes, as any improvement in this area equates to faster lap times and more reliable equipment-both of which helps win races or, at the very least, improve on-track performance. That being said, a better set of brakes can make your car go faster. It can also increase vehicle safety by allowing you to stop shorter and more often without the brakes fading.
When considering a braking system upgrade for your vehicle, there are a number of questions that you should ask yourself and the potential brake company that you are thinking of purchasing from. Many big brake kits require larger wheels than what you may be currently running, and some require different offset wheels to clear the larger calipers. Compatibility with anti-lock braking systems is also something to consider as a poorly designed system can actually make the braking performance worse, if the computer does not react properly. Some systems incorporate a parking brake and some don't, so be sure to ask with regard to your application.
You'll also want to be honest and upfront about your plans for the brakes. Just because you buy the biggest multi-piston calipers on the market doesn't mean they'll haul your 4,000-pound car down from 200 mph 20 times in a row. Brake pad and rotor design plays a huge roll in allowing the calipers to work efficiently. Come up with a real and valid assessment of what your intended use is and then talk with the manufacturers to get you set up with the right brake pad compound, rotor design, and caliper requirement. As with everything else, it pays to be a smart and informed shopper when it comes to purchasing something as important as brakes. Talk to several manufacturers if you have the option and see what they recommend. Such conversations may bring up things that you may not have considered during your initial planning.
For the late-model Mustang crowd, there's an upgrade for every Mustang from 1979 to present, and sometimes more than one per model. We've done most of the legwork by gathering nearly every company that offers an upgrade for your Mustang, and giving you the short list of details. From here, we recommend that you contact the manufacturer directly to help decide what is right for you and your car.
Aerospace Components offers numerous brake upgrades for both open track and drag strip-bound Mustangs. The company specializes in billet aluminum calipers and manufacturers its own special rotors as well. The company offers both two- and four-piston caliper systems and offers bolt-on front brake kits for '79-to-present Mustangs. In addition to the five-lug kits, Aerospace is also one of the few companies that offer upgrades for four-lug Fox body applications.
2625 75th St. North
Saint Petersburg, Fl 33710
Baer Brake Systems
Baer's business began with its Fox Mustang packages, and the company offers a variety of performance brake solutions for every Mustang built since 1965. The company's resume includes extensive research and development in a number of racing environments, and MM&FF most recently used Baer's Monoblock six-piston calipers on Project Stolen Goods. Shelby also taps Baer for its line of high performance brake upgrades for the company's vehicles.
Baer brake systems come in a variety of configurations that include various caliper and rotor designs, and chances are, they have whatever you need for whatever Mustang you drive. Base systems employ two-piston PBR calipers, and from there, you can step up to the four- and six-piston aluminum calipers. Baer brake offerings for '05-up Mustangs include upgrades from direct replacement performance pads and rotors (DecelaPad and DecelaRotor), upsized two-piece rotor packages that employ the OE calipers (Eradi-Speed), and fully integrated Baer Claw big brake systems with six-piston calipers and 14- or 15-inch rotors.
Baer's PRO+ package employs their all new P-Series six-piston caliper and is targeted at delivering maximum performance for dollar spent. Machined from billet aluminum, features include an internal fluid transfer (only an inside bleeder required), stainless pistons for low thermal transfer, road-going dust and weather seals, stainless abutment/noise suppression springs, radial mounts, and a pad common to the OE C5 or C6. This pad selection ensures that service pads and compounds are available from nearly every performance pad manufacturer on the planet. It is also a shape that is inexpensive relative to its substantial size.
The company's most recent product is its new S197 rear-brake setup, which is designed to eliminate the rear brake bind during hard cornering. Baer claims precious seconds have been shaved off lap times at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in testing. With the design of the Ford 8.8, the clutch packs expand and push the axles out against the caliper pistons, which provides inconsistent pedal effort and pressure. Baer claims its new floating rear caliper solves this. The component is designed as a complete and direct bolt-on, and makes a substantial improvement in braking. It can be used wherever a c-clip axle is used.
3108 W. Thomas Rd., Ste. 1201-Q
Phoenix, AZ 85017
The Brake Man
With 42 years in the braking business, the Brake Man, otherwise known as Warren Gilliland, knows a thing or two about stopping automobiles. Though not an openly popular braking company, The Brake Man's list of clientele features some of the big names in racing, and consists of numerous sportsman and professional class racers.
The Brake Man has customers ranging from Top Fuel dragster driver Antron Brown, to SCCA champ Tom Ellis, and most everyone in between. "The hardest part is getting people to listen long enough to convince them that better brakes create more speed," says Gilliland. The Brake Man tells us that the company offers the only zero-drag caliper on the market, which is said to make a noticeable difference in turns and sometimes require a suspension adjustment because of the free-rolling nature. Gilliland also suggests that proper brake ducting/cooling is essential, and tips consumers to pick a brake pad that offers a consistent temperature.
For the '94-'04 street Mustang, The Brake Man offers its Storm System, which features the Tornado forged four-piston calipers, ProCast, Revolution or Hurricane rotors (depending on application), as well as pads and stainless-steel lines. Rotor diameters range from 12.19 to 14.00 inches. Also offered are a 12.19-inch standard rotor for SCCA competition and a 13-inch upgrade for NASA American Iron. Lightweight drag racing systems are available, as well as upgrades for the Ford Expedition and Ford Focus.
The Brake Man
838 Calle Plano
Camarillo, Ca 93012
Known all over the world for its championship-winning performances, Brembo brake systems have been used on everything from factory production cars to the pinnacle of automobile racing-Formula 1. The company's extensive racing resume should tell you why the OEMs rely on Brembo brake systems to slow down their high-performance models.
For the late-model Mustang, Brembo has worked with Ford on numerous occasions on various SVT and high performance applications, and they also supply a lot of aftermarket companies with private label braking systems as well. Brembo's Gran Turismo system is available in various configurations for '94-and-up Mustangs, and the company also offers numerous sport upgrades including high-performance pads and rotors.
Brembo Performance North America Inc.
1586 Sunland LN.
Costa Mesa, Ca 92626
Ford Racing Performance Parts
FRPP offers numerous brake options for the '79-'09 Mustangs in its performance parts catalog. The popular 2300-K brake kit features the '95 Cobra R brake system, and includes everything one needs to install it on a Fox Mustang. Beyond that, FRPP offers the '00 Cobra R front brake kit upgrade for '94-'04 Mustangs, and you can also beef up your S197 Mustang with a set of GT500 front brakes. FRPP also offers the Focus SVT brake system as an upgrade for regular Focus owners. It's hard to beat factory equipment for fit, finish, and replacement parts availability, not to mention its competitive pricing in the market.
MPS Auto Salvage
While it doesn't offer brand new components, MPS Auto Salvage does offer used and reconditioned brake upgrades for most all late-model Mustangs. MM&FF has utilized MPS's services on numerous occasions to upgrade various projects, and there are several benefits to using them. Most all of the upgrades utilize factory Ford components, which has the added benefits of extensive engineering and readily available replacement parts, and MPS can also provide you with spindles, calipers, brackets, bolts, axles, rotors, and whatever else you may need for your upgrade-all of which come at a very reasonable price. Whether you have a V-6 Mustang, LX, or a GT model, MPS has an upgrade for you.
MPS Auto Salvage
592 Barrow Park Dr.
Winder, GA 30680
MM&FF has had the pleasure of testing numerous performance vehicles from Roush, and the ones that come with the big brake packages never fail to impress-both from aesthetic and performance standpoints.
Roush offers several front brake upgrades, including a two-piston PBR caliper brake upgrade, as well as a four-piston Alcon caliper setup, for '94-'04 Mustangs. The two-piston PBRs use a 13-inch rotor, while the four-piston binders step up to 14-inch discs.
For the S197 Mustang, Roush offers a pair of front brake upgrades that start with the 14-inch rotor/four-piston caliper setup, which is the performance option on the majority of Roush vehicles. The limited edition Roush Track Pak Mustang, however, was graced with further braking improvements in the form of forged aluminum six-piston calipers. The highly rigid six-piston front calipers are said to provide a better pedal feel under extreme braking conditions, and offer better distribution of braking force, eliminating radial pad taper. The six-piston design and larger-than-OEM pads provide for lower pad temperatures and better pad life. Stainless steel brake lines are part of the kit, and boost pedal firmness and braking response. Roush complements the Track Pak brake kit with its rear slotted rotor kit. Roush also sells the majority of its braking kit components separately, and they carry Hawk brake pads for those that need a little more grip than a stock-style pad.
Roush Performance Products
Stainless Steel Brakes Corp.
SSBC has always been popular with the street rod and muscle car market, and the company is also a strong supporter of the late-model musclecar as well. SSBC offers two-, three-, and four-piston calipers for the late-model Mustang, and eight piston calipers for Ford trucks. SSBC also sells a host of rotor options and fitments. Front brake upgrades are available as are matching rear systems, and the calipers can be finished in a number of powdercoat colors or aluminum finishes.
Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation
11470 Main St.
Clarence, NY 14031
Steeda Autosports sells a number of aftermarket braking systems for '79-'09 Mustangs, and while it offers kits from Ford Racing, Baer Brakes, and Wilwood, it specializes in Brembo components.
MM&FF has worked the Steeda big brake kits on many of Steeda's Q cars, and they've always impressed us. For the '94-'04 Mustangs, Steeda offers the FRPP/Brembo/Cobra R brake upgrade, while the S197 Mustang gets a bump to larger four-piston calipers and 14-inch two-piece front rotors with floating hats. DOT-legal stainless steel brake lines, mounting brackets, hardware, and brake pads are also included. Steeda also offers a 13-inch rear rotor upgrade for the S197 Mustang.
Steeda has also designed this kit with the proper piston sizes for compatibility with the sensitive S197 Mustang anti-lock brake system. Steeda tells us that improper sizing can lead to ABS malfunction, as well as increased stopping distances, which defeats the purpose of adding bigger, better brakes.
For the '07-'09 Shelby GT500, Steeda offers a six-piston Brembo brake upgrade that bolts right up to your supercharged steed. While Ford and Shelby did a great job with the GT500 Mustang, increased performance under the hood should be complemented with better brakes at the corners. Steeda also carries a full assortment of braking components, including lines, rotors, Hawk pads, brake ducting, quick-release pins, and numerous other parts.
1351 NW Steeda Way
Pompano Beach, Fl 33069
For the late-model Mustang, Stillen carries the AP Racing line of braking components. Systems for the '94-'04 Mustang include four-piston aluminum calipers, and various one- and two-piece brake rotors. Stillen also offers Goodridge stainless-steel brake lines and Mintex brake pads.
Those that are behind the wheel of an S197 Mustang get to choose from the standard four-piston AP Racing setup, or if the need is there, they can upgrade further to the AP Racing six-piston calipers, which utilize 14.25-inch rotors. Complementing the big front brake kit is an available rear kit that uses AP's four-piston calipers, and includes a parking brake as well. All calipers are offered in either red or black, and every brake kit is designed to work with the original equipment master cylinder, ABS, and traction control systems.
3176 Airway Ave.
Costa Mesa, Ca 92626
Though not a manufacturer of high-performance brake systems, Vintage Venom has cornered the market on fitting your Mustang with the latest in Ford braking systems. The company started out with fitting late-model brakes to vintage Mustangs, but now also offers adaptor kits to fit Fox-body and SN-95 Mustangs with the four-piston calipers and 14-inch front rotors from the '07-up Shelby GT500. With big brakes come big clearance needs, so you'll need to pony up for some 18x9.5-inch wheels with a 45mm backspacing.
Vintage Venom L.L.C.
Wilwood Disc brakes has been in the braking business for over 30 years, and it offers braking systems and components for '79-to-present Mustangs. The company's DynaPro and DynaLite systems are available in street, open-track, and drag configurations, with rotors ranging in size from 10.75 inches to over 13 inches. Wilwood can provide you with everything from the the prop valve and lines to the calipers and pads. Calipers are available in various colors, as well as a polished finish.
4700 Calle Bolero
Camarillo, Ca 93012