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Braking for a Good Cause

C5 Brakes for '85-'96 Corvettes

Cam Benty Jun 22, 2004

Imagine a brake swap so obvious it will leave you breathless just thinking about it.

Let's face it, the '85-'96 Corvette brakes weren't the best. Vette Brakes & Products (VBP) offers the ultimate brake improver: adapting '97-'01 Corvette front rotors and calipers on the old Corvette C4 suspension. The results from this swap are so impressive that every C4 owner on the planet should consider it, especially if it's time to change the worn rotors on your car.

It goes like this. Take off the old, probably worn front 11.5-inch-diameter rotors on your car and install new VBP 13-inch rotors in their place. While you're at it, use the rest of the VBP-designed kit and add a set of '97-'01 Corvette twin-piston calipers and mounting brackets in place of the original single-piston units, a set of stainless steel flex brake lines, and some Hawk HPS high-performance brake pads.

The results? For under $1,000, you'll have a system that decreases braking distance from 60-0 from 126 to around 105 feet (best stopping distances noted). In addition, the new system dissipates heat much better, which decreases the chance of rotor warpage and other bad braking stuff. Fact is, this system is so simple and so good, we should have done it a long time ago. It doesn't require modification of the proportioning-valve system, brake booster or lines, and is compatible with all factory ABS system hardware.

The changeover from C4 to C5 brakes (not compatible with '84 brake systems) increases the braking surface area by 25 percent, a huge improvement. In addition, the VBP rotors are 11 percent lighter than the factory units and offer better cooling through enlarged vents, in both the outer perimeter of the rotor and brake-rotor face vents.

On our '86 Corvette, the installation took approximately half an hour, as we carefully installed the brakes and took the photos you see here. The most complex part was placement of the caliper anti-rattle clips to keep the brake pads quiet. Otherwise, the installation went without a hitch. We bled the brake system with a power bleeder and tested the system before driving the car. If you're not sure you did this correctly, seek the help of a professional mechanic and do not drive the car. Have it towed to a location where the brakes can be properly bled and safety checked.

Our changeover included the replacement of the rear rotors, which were, as you can see, past their prime. We installed VBP replacement rotors and Hawk brake pads. We wanted to make sure our test was comparable to what you might experience. We used the same P275/40-17 (front) and P315/35-17 (rear) Sumitomo high-performance tires, and Corvette Wheel Specialist supplied 9.5-inch (front) and 11-inch (rear) A-Mold wheels for before-and-after testing. While our driving results produced the real numerical gains, the seat-of-the-pants improvement was the best news. Pedal feel with the system was greatly improved and we were pleased with the excellent overall driveability.

In addition to the improvement in stopping distance, there are two important positives to this swap: greater performance and safety. The best of both worlds. What a concept.


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Our brakes had to be replaced, especially in the rear. We installed VBPreplacement rear rotors and new Hawk pads. Then we went out for a test.The baseline result: 126 feet from 60-0 mph.

153_0406_2z 1986_Chevrolet_Corvette Removing_Stock_Brakes 3/14

The first step was to remove the stock brake package. Our front rotorswere in better shape than the rear; but when compared to the new VBPbrakes, there was, well, no comparison.

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The original '86 Corvette front brakes were 11.5 inches in diametercompared to 13 inches for the VBP rotors, which were 11 percent lighterand offered enhanced venting for quick cool-down.

153_0406_4z 1986_Chevrolet_Corvette Removing_Caliper 5/14

We removed the caliper, caliper bracket, and rotor, and inspected thespindle for wear. Despite the dirt, the suspension was in goodcondition. We then slipped on the new rotor.

153_0406_5z 1986_Chevrolet_Corvette Caliper_Bracket 6/14

The new caliper bracket, as supplied in the VBP kit, fit beautifully andmounted to the stock suspension. Torque it to spec as noted in theinstructions.


T&M Performance
Vette Brakes & Products
St. Petersburg, FL
(800) 237-9991



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