When you can stop your muscle car confidently, it really changes the driving experience—even with 50-year-old project cars. If your Chevy came with drums like Scott Miller's '65 Chevelle, a front disc upgrade alone will improve overall stopping power significantly. However, upgrading to disc brakes at all four corners is the only choice for the ultimate in performance. There was a time when your only choice was to source parts from junkyards to upgrade your old Chevy rearend with discs. Fortunately, today it's easier than ever to make the switch.
Speedway Motors offers affordable disc brakes for all popular Chevy body styles, including the '65 Chevelle Malibu in question. The car is an A+ cosmetically; the performance, however, is a failure. Miller admits the 283ci V-8 needs rebuilding, but it wasn't the lack of power that made it a bummer to drive, it was the braking capability of the stock four-wheel drums.
GM 10- & 12-Bolt Rear Disc Conversion Kit Features (PN 91031924)
- Fits Chevelles, Camaros & Novas*
- Includes two bolt-on caliper brackets and two 11 1/4-inch vented rotors
- Two GM emergency brake style calipers, brake pads, and hardware.
- Rotors have both 5-on-4 1/2 and 5-on-4 3/4 bolt circles
- Fits most axle flange diameters
Miller purchased his stocker Chevelle with the typical GM cast-iron drums, which measure 11.34-inches. These are notorious for quickly fading once they get hot, so after driving for long stretches at a time, braking performance drastically diminishes and the fun factor suffers. While upgrading to discs is an obvious solution, oftentimes people think this upgrade is more expensive and complicated than it actually is. Companies like Speedway Motors (one of the largest performance parts warehouses in the country) offer a handful of bolt-on kits that cater to all the popular Chevy body styles, making this modification a no-brainier.
We contacted Tim Lee of Don Lee Auto Service in Rancho Cucamonga, California, to handle the installation of Speedway's rear discs (PN 91031924). In previous articles, we've covered the replacement of other stock pieces off this Malibu, including the front drum brakes and some suspension pieces, such as the control arms. This time, we showcase Speedway Motors' easy rear disc swap kits that work for not only '64-72 GM A-bodies, but other models with 10- and 12-bolts as well. While this basic kit doesn't come with brake lines or emergency brake cables (which need to be measured per application), it can get you going in the right direction.
01. The discs that come with this basic kit are cast brand new, vented, and feature a dual bolt pattern.
02. The calipers are based on an OEM design and feature a parking brake mechanism in the caliper. However, the cables and brake lines don’t come with this basic kit.
03. Our subject Chevelle features classic five-spoke Coys wheels that measure 17x7 in the front and rear.
04. The factory cast-iron drum brakes are ancient and terrible. Speedway’s kit is a much better choice.
05. Even though the pads on the drum brake were new, the braking performance of this old ride could easily be improved by this kit.
06. In these days of smart phones and unlimited info, looking at old steel brake springs seems weird. You can replace this for under $500.
07-08. The most difficult part about upgrading your 10- or 12-bolt rearend is removing the C-clips located in the differential of your axle. Once you drain the gear oil, you must remove a couple of bolts in the differential and the C-clips can be removed with a magnet and the axles will slide out.
09-10. At Don Lee Auto, Rick Gallaway was able to have the brakes disassembled in well under an hour. Once all the hardware is removed from the backing plate, you can attach the new caliper bracket and re-install the axles.
11. The caliper bracket that comes in the kit simply bolts to your 10- or 12-bolt rearend’s axle tubes, facing rearward ...
12. ... and the new discs slide over the factory axles.
13. The brake calipers were bolted to the zinc-plated brackets with kit-supplied Allen-head fasteners that are designed to keep the caliper square.
14. Being only $430 from Speedway Motors, this basic kit includes the essentials for a rear disc brake conversion: the discs, calipers, brackets, and hardware. However, to complete this system, custom brake lines and/or emergency cables are required per application since this setup fits various-width rearends in a handful of body styles.