The brakes are the most important performance component on your car! Now that we've got that off our chests and hopefully grabbed your attention, perhaps an explanation is in order. Think about it for a moment. Obviously without brakes, cars wouldn't be much fun to drive. You've probably never thought of them as a performance part, because we all typically refer to performance as things that can make a car go faster, not slower. But if you've ever pushed a car to the limits on a curvy highway, and your brakes pushed back, then you're aware of what we're talking about. Any of the old Chevrolets can benefit from better brakes up until the Fourth-Gen cars, for which there are still improvements that can be made, but at a costly price. And unless your car is intended for the drag strip only, with no street driving in between, than a set of big four-wheel discs can make your daily commute a blast!
While there are many replacement four-wheel disc brake systems available today, several companies have addressed the issue of BIGGER brakes. True, four-wheel disc brakes were even available way back when, but those brake packages left a lot to be desired. If you were to hunt down a factory replacement four-wheel disc kit for your early Chevrolet, then you'd be getting small rotors and heavy calipers. What the aftermarket guys have done is incorporate the best the world has to offer by using light-weight aluminum calipers, made popular by the European car market, and super-sized rotors to give braking abilities beyond what GM ever achieved.
A BIGGER BRAKE
When it comes to brake rotors, bigger is definitely better. But we're not just talking about diameter here, although that's usually the first dimension to increase. Thicker rotors offer more heat absorption capabilities because creating heat is what a brake system does most. Thicker rotors are able to absorb more heat and dissipate it into the atmosphere better than thin rotors. A difference in thickness of just 0.100-inch can make a big difference in braking performance, especially after several hard stops.
Larger diameter rotors offer more braking leverage to improve stopping power. They accomplish this by moving the caliper further away from the spindle centerline. It's the same effect as using a longer breaker bar to bust a tough nut loose. But, of course, bigger rotors need bigger wheels to fit inside. And the large 13-inch discs this Camaro had in front, combined with the new 12-inchers we added out back required 17-inch diameter wheels with a lot of offset (6-inches on both) for clearance.
Brake systems multiply the pressure you put on the pedal usually by a factor of at least 4:1 and as high as 6:1. The brake pedal ratio is determined by dividing the distance from the center of the pedal pivot to the center of the pedal pad in a straight line; see "Pedal Ratio" illustration. (Do not calculate the curve in the pedal). Manual brakes require a higher ratio than power-assist brakes, but most brake pedals are drilled for both. If you're switching from power-assist to manual brakes for a more responsive "feel" at the pedal, then you'll need to switch your pedal ratio by moving the master cylinder pushrod pin. This may also require installation of an adjustable pushrod, available from Master Power. Master cylinder bore size also has an effect on the pressure your calipers see. In this case, it's best to purchase a master cylinder from the same company you bought you brakes from to be sure it's properly matched.
Whether you're harder on brakes than a NASCAR Champion, or drive like a little old lady--whatever driving style--you will benefit from bigger brakes.