There's a reason that Chevrolet's popular midsize musclecar-the Chevelle-is referred to as the "Heavy Chevy." It's not because of its lack of nimbleness or agility, mind you, but more accurately because of its girth. The truth is, despite being one of the most desired and fastest boulevard bruisers, the A-body, with its full frame, is a handful to haul down from speed. The stock four-wheel drum brake setup is a joke, and leaves a lot to be desired in the "whoa" department.
If you're in the market to upgrade the brake system on your Chevelle or Malibu, the folks at Master Power Brakes have a number of different kits to fit those models built from '64-72. And even though the '67 Malibu featured in this story may not be the same model you have, the brake system is basically the same, and will also fit your car.
Master Power Brakes, which has been in business since the early '60s manufacturing and remanufacturing brake components for the aftermarket, began building high-performance brake upgrade kits in 1983, and currently has a 50-page catalog loaded with disc brake systems for classic Chevys, plus a large selection of individual components such as master cylinders and power boosters.
If you've ever done a brake job on your car, you should have the skill level and tools needed for this job. It's a relatively simple remove-and-replace procedure.
The A-body kit features a 101/2-inch disc package with 2-inch dropped (Superior) spindles, or an 11- or 12-inch disc brake package with standard GM spindles. The kits also include all-new components such as rotors, spindles, calipers with pads, caliper brackets, master cylinder/booster, combination valve, brake hoses, bearings, seals, dust caps, hardware, and printed instructions, with a video! Everything comes in one shot, with nothing else to get.
Our donor '67 Malibu just didn't stop as good as its owner wanted, so we did a little test that you can do at home on any of your cars. As you'll notice in the last photo, we put a bathroom scale between our brake foot and the pedal to see just what kind of leg effort it really took to stop the car. Before we installed the new system, we took the car to a big parking lot, instead of the highway, just to be safe. There, we took the car up to 30 mph and did a few quick stops (no skidding involved), with the scale in position. The stock, non-power, four-wheel drum brake system took about 60 to 70 pounds of leg pressure to come to a stop. After the front-disc system and new dual-chamber master cylinder with a 9-inch single-diaphragm booster was installed, we repeated the parking lot test. This time it only required 10 to 15 pounds of leg pressure to slow the beast down. To say it was an incredible improvement is an understatement.
To see how easy the installation was, we photographed the complete job being done. Follow along as we improved the safety factor of this classic '67 Chevelle, and learn how you could easily do the same thing at home in as little as one weekend.