If you're looking for ultimate braking power for your Chevy project, some of the best aftermarket systems available come from Wilwood brakes in Camarillo, California. For the past several decades, the experts at Wilwood have developed top-notch disc brake systems for all sorts of motorsports, and today you can even make your tired, old muscle car stop on a dime.
We chose Wilwood brakes for our late model-powered Chevelle project and were very impressed how much they improved the car's street prowess. The Chevelle's stock brakes, discs in front drum in the rear, could effectively stop the car, just not very quickly. And that's really what performance braking is about; it's not about if they can stop you, but rather how long it takes. Old cars are notorious for being sluggish to stop, so when you make this upgrade, it totally changes the driving experience.
We contacted Mike Hamrick, a Wilwood technician, to get the scoop on their various brake setups, including what we bolted on to our project. Wilwood actually offers five different levels of brake setups; their Forged Dynalite line which comes with an 11-inch rotor and fits most 15-inch wheels; the FDL Front Drag Brake, which is an 11.75-inch rotor designed for drag racing; the FNSL6R setup, which is a 12.88-inch rotor that works with most 17-inch wheels; the beefy W6A Big Brake kit for 18-inch and larger wheels; and the SUV/Truck brake setup for 20-inch and larger wheels. These five styles cover an array of performance levels, everything from mild street driving to all out competition.
Our Chevelle had already received a healthy powertrain consisting of an LQ9 engine and a 4L80E transmission; it only made sense to give it the braking ability to match. With one phone call to Wilwood, we had exactly what our street car needed, keeping mild racing (drag and autocross) in mind.
Q&A with Wilwood's Mike Hamrick
Chevy High Performance: How did you determine what brakes we needed?
Hamrick: The front kit was a snap, our 13-inch Challenge kit uses a 6 piston Superlite caliper over a one piece rotor, and aluminum hub; all for $1,199. The rear kit was selected because of the owners desire to use a 15-inch drag wheel occasionally, while retaining the parking brake. Our 11-inch Dynapro rear kit meets both those requirements.
CHP: What master cylinder did you recommend and why?
Hamrick: On a car equipped with a manual pedal, the 7/8th tandem master cylinder is the right way to go. It's a good compromise between leg effort and pedal travel, essentially, it doesn't take too much of either to activate the brakes.
CHP: How important is front-to-rear brake bias in a street car? What about an autocross car?
Hamrick: Front to rear bias is very important, as a matter of performance and safety.
CHP: What happens if the brake bias is off badly?
Hamrick: Generally, you want to be able to lock the wheels predictably. If either the fronts or rears lock up too easily, the car will be unpredictable and performance as well as safety will be compromised. The most common problem is having too much rear brake in the car, and having the rears lock up way before the fronts, somewhat unpredictably. The easiest way to solve this problem is with an adjustable proportioning valve. This lets you turn down the pressure to the rear brakes so that lock up happens at the same time on both ends of the car.
CHP: What type of brake fluid do you recommend and why?
Hamrick: Performance cars should always use a good DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid, and for a car that's going to see track time, we always recommend our EXP600 fluid. The dry boiling point is 626 degrees, the highest in racing.