With our project car becoming quicker and more driveable with eachpassing month, we've decided to devote this month's story to upgradingthe Vette's stopping power. Powerful, reliable brakes are critical notonly when performing spirited driving maneuvers, but also in everydaytraffic, where a few extra feet of stopping distance can mean thedifference between a moment's drama and a hefty repair bill.
After a lengthy search of the performance-brake aftermarket, we settledon Stainless Steel Brake Corporation's Front and Rear Short Stop SlottedRotor and Upgrade Brake Pad Kit (Part No. A2350008).Priced at a reasonable $695, the system features plated, stock-sizedfront and rear rotors with curved vanes and directional slotting. A setof high-performance organic brake pads is also included.
We chose the slotted rotors for several reasons. First, unlikecross-drilled rotors, the slotted units perform the dual function ofcleaning the brake pads while also aiding in cooling. By preventing thebrake-pad surfaces from glazing over, slotted rotors can also reducenoise and dust buildup. Finally, a slotted rotor is less likely todevelop that unsettling pulsing feel during high-speed deceleration.
Since we won't be doing a lot of track time in the car, we decided notto go with too aggressive a pad compound. A common misconception amongperformance enthusiasts is that a racing pad will provide better overallbraking performance than a street compound. Although superior underextreme, high-heat conditions such as those found in road racing, thematerials utilized in a typical racing pad tend to perform poorly innormal driving conditions. The Hawk Performance pads that came with ourkit (SSBC Part Nos. 1095 and 1096) use a ferro-carbonorganic "Performance Street" compound that is designed to work under abroad range of temperatures and operating conditions.
It's also a good idea at this stage to replace the brake fluid. Overtime, brake fluid attracts moisture, and this can damage your mastercylinder, brake lines, and calipers. With the Shoe String C5 showingover 60,000 miles on the clock, we decided to add a 32-ounce bottle ofSSBC's silicone brake fluid (Part No. A1103) to ourorder. At $22, the fluid might seem pricey, but when you stop toconsider that you'll never have to replace it, that price starts to looka lot more attractive. Also keep in mind, that unlike conventional brakefluid, stored silicone fluid will not deteriorate over time. Be sure tofollow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and completely whenbleeding your brakes. It is critical that you don't mix conventional andsilicone fluids in the system.
With the parts arriving from SSBC's New York facility a day earlier thanpromised, we headed over to Keech's Automotive in nearby Sarasota,Florida, for the installation. Follow along with Phil Maltese and SteveKeech as they bring our C5 even closer to its goal of Z06-caliberperformance.
Once the new brakes are installed and the fluid has been changed, it's important to test the brakes before heading out. Before starting the car, depress the brake pedal. Make sure you have a hard pedal feel and the pressure remains firm. Next, start the car, apply the brakes several times, then slowly drive off the lift, stopping first after 5 feet, then 10, and so on. Once you feel confident that the brakes are operating correctly, go to a closed area such as a driveway or empty parking lot. Drive several yards, stop, then repeat the process, progressing farther each time. Next, hit the pavement and drive for a block or two, stopping periodically. This will "scrub in" the pads on the rotors and help seat them properly.
Stay tuned for our next installment, where we'll touch up the paint, sanitize the engine compartment, and perform an overall detailing.
Costs to Date
Vehicle purchase (includes tax and tags): $19,800
Clutch & flywheel installation (includes parts and labor): $1,732.46
Mirrors (paint and installation, includes parts and labor): $638.89
Rear weatherstripping (includes parts and labor): $146
Front and rear brake upgrade (includes parts and labor): $977