A seat-of-the-pants comparison between drum brake and disc brake stopping power
When we completed Chris Basset's disc brake conversion, no conclusions in the stopping power department could be made because the wagon was in the process of a major restoration. I took it amongst myself to test two different cars: one having drum brakes at all four corners, and one with four-wheel discs. The ride I will never forget was in my friend Dave "Riff-Raff" Miller's '68 big-block Camaro (equipped with four-wheel drum brakes). When I put my foot in the car to do a full-throttle pass, I have to say it was quite thrilling, but little did I know my thrills were just about to begin! After taking my foot out of the throttle, I went for the brake pedal (expecting it to stop like a Corvette, I guess) and to my surprise the car pulled to the left without seeming to slow down. I let out of the brakes and tried again; this time I darted to the right, but at least I was slowing down. After catching my breath and finally slowing the Camaro down, I didn't think I was ready to do another braking evaluation (I did anyway). The next test subject was a '69 big-block Camaro that belongs to another "friend" of mine. The major difference is that this Camaro had the Classic Performance Products disc brake kit installed at all four-corners, CPP's power brake booster kit, braided-steel brake lines, and cross-drilled/gas-slotted rotors. While this car wasn't quite as powerful as Dave's Camaro, it could accelerate hard enough to paste you to the seat. While accelerating, all I could keep thinking about was stopping. To my surprise the Camaro responded by slowing me down without the side-to-side pulling or brake fade that the drum-brake Camaro exhibited. The brake pedal felt firm and stayed high as I slowed the car down. In conclusion, I don't have any percentage statistics in braking or 60-zero mph times, but I can give you my personal opinion: Always consider a disc brake conversion when upgrading horsepower. The new "complete conversion kits" are readily available for most classics, easy to install, and within the budget of most "cruisers."