GM blessed the third generation f-bodies with good aerodynamics,superior (yet simple) suspension design,and the possiblility to have unlimited potential in horepower.Unfortunately,the brakes which were great when the cars were introduced in 1982 became dated very soon,even the fourth generation cars are shy in the brake area (let's not even mention the screw-up with the new front suspension design!).I have compiled info for the braking systems offered on the third generation cars,how to update to later years braking systems,and your options offered by aftermarket companies.
What came on third generation cars?
All third generation cars came with front disk brakes,some with disks on the rear instead of drums.The standard front disk size (not counting 1LE) were 10.5",and used an iron caliper and hub assembly.If you had rear disks,the rotor size and brake pads are the same,but the caliper is slightly different (at least I think it is).I don't know the exact size of the brake drums offered,but drum cars used a slightly smaller master cylinder than rear disk cars.In 1989,GM introduced the rear 12" rotors for high performance models.These brakes were the best to come on the rears of third generation cars,and can be adapted (or rear swapped) to fit the older rears with 10.5" disks,the calipers are aluminum.If you have a drum rear car,the rear must be swapped,since the drum rears do not have the proper backing plate to be switched.Those of you who bought cars with 1LE brakes,which also includes Turbo TA owners,have the 12" rear disks plus 12" front brakes,making the best factory available brakes for the third generation cars.There were only a few hundred 1LE cars made,so finding one in a wrecking yard is pretty slim,you can buy the parts from GM,but cost a fortune today.The 1992 SLP Formula Firehawk had an option for front Brembo brakes,but since only 27 were built,forget it.
Upgrading to better brakes using GM factory parts:
Like I said,those of you with rear drums will have to swap rears in order to get disk brakes(at least at GM).Those of you who want the 1989 or later 12" rotor brakes can get them from GM for an "affordable" amount of money.If you can find a rear with them,you can swap rears,or just buy the brackets and parts(if one is a 9 bolt,and the other is a 10 bolt).These are the parts you will need to do this:
#10132831-LH housing with piston(1)
#10132832-RH housing with piston(1)
#17988596-LH brake hose(1)
#17990890-RH brake hose(1)
#10083575-parking brake cable(2)
#10174840-brake pad kit(1)
#10136853-LH mounting plate(1)(10 bolt)
#10136854-RH mounting plate(1)(10 bolt)
#10080875-LH mounting plate(1)(9 bolt)
#10080876-RH mounting plate(1)(9 bolt)
Since all third generation f-bodies came with front disks,the only GM upgrade is to 1LE front brakes.These are the parts you will need:
#18016034-front brake caliper mount bracket(2)
#10132827-LH housing with piston(1)
#10132832-RH housing with piston(1)
#10132829-LH anchor plate(1)
#10132830-RH anchor plate(1)
#10113075-LH brake hose(1)
#10113076-RH brake hose(1)
#10104485-brake pad kit(1)
#18016737-LH steering knuckle(1)
#18016738-RH steering knuckle(1)
I also tink you need different front spindles,but the info I have doesn't have the numbers,check with GM to be sure.The problem with getting these parts from GM is the price(particularly the front parts),you can buy better aftermarket parts for less money.The best way to upgrade is to find either a rear for sale,or a wrecked IROC or TA.
Aftermarket parts available:
JFZ and Wilwood make front and rear upgrades,but they are marginal for abusive street and road race work(particularly Wilwood).The absolute best source for upgrading your third generation's brakes is Baer Brakes in Phoenix,AZ phone #(602) 233-1411.Most of the systems they offer are bolt ins,and use a lot of GM parts from the Corvette.This is not a plug for Baer,I will be buying a kit in the spring,their products impressed me,call them for a catalog.They also offer kits for older and newer generations of f-bodies,Fords,Corvettes...etc.I will give you the kits (old,but higher prices),and what the different parts mean for performance and durability.Crossdrilling is a prosess in which holes are drilled through the rotors.This is done to vent gasses formed during braking,sometimes improving braking power.Crossdrilling weakens the rotors,and is known to produce cracks,cars that are driven little can benefit,true daily drivers are better off opting for non-drilled rotors.I believe all kits come with stainless steel brake limes,which improve "feel" and can imcrease braking power.Larger rotors give a leverage effect on braking power(like a longer crowbar does),they also give more area that the brake pad will cover.
#E2GF-10130-5DN A-sedan,non-drill,12"x.81" rotors,PBR calipers,15" wheels or larger: $1210
#E2GF-10120-5DC Drag,drilled 12"x.81" rotors,PBR calipers,15" wheels or larger: $1085
#E2GF-10150-5HN Track,13"x1.1" non drill rotors,PBR calipers,16" wheels or larger: $1145
#E2GF-10150-5HC Track,13"x1.1" drilled rotors,PBR calipers,16" wheels or larger: $1200
Alcon Track,13"x1.1" drilled rotors,Alcon calipers,17" wheels or larger: $2140
Note:all kits require modified front spindles,included but a $150 core charge is levied,refundable when old spindles are returned. As you can see,there are quite a few kits that Baer offers.I don't see any reason to buy 1LE parts from GM,which retail for over $1500;when you can buy better for less.
Those of you with the 12" rear brakes,keep what you have.Those with 10.5"and rear drums are in luck,Baer offers a 12" kit for $700 or less.They have two kits available: >Note:all kits require modified front spindles,included but a $150 core charge is levied,refundable when old spindles are returned. As you can see,there are quite a few kits that Baer offers.I don't see any reason to buy 1LE parts from GM,which retail for over $1500;when you can buy better for less. Those of you with the 12" rear brakes,keep what you have.Those with 10.5"and rear drums are in luck,Baer offers a 12" kit for $700 or less.They have two kits available:
#E2GF-1060(0,1,2)-5DN Rear,12"x.81" non drilled rotors,PBR calipers,16" wheels or larger: $655
#E2GF-1060(0,1,2)-5DC Rear,12"x.81" drilled rotors,PBR calipers,16" wheels or larger: $710
Note:0 is for Saginaw with drum,1 is for Saginaw with disk,2 is for Borg Warner with disk.You may be able to run aftermarket 15" wheels with the rear kits,call and ask.
The best kit(not the Alcon) costs $1910,expensive,but those superchargers people buy cost at least $2500,shit my trans cost over $1600.Baer's kits also take at least 25lbs of non-sprung weight off your car,mostly on the front end,adding to handling perfromance also.Supposedly they are bolt-ons with no fabrication work needed,and take approx 4-6hrs for both front and rear(Baer's claim).Because of Baer's large volume lately,their prices are at least 5% lower than the catalog I got these prices from.
Why would you want better brakes?
A lot of people are bound to ask that,but it really comes down to safety and control.The faster your car will stop,the safer it is to travel at high velocities.Being able to stop the car quicker also gives you more control over a car's actions.No braking system that takes weight off a car will hurt drag racing performance.
I'm sure those who drag race will ask,I have another quarter mile to stop,I can't see spending that much money on brakes.Sure,if you only see the track OK,but if you street race,it could save your car and maybe even your life in an emergency.Those who road race know that a better stopping car will be faster around a road course,because more time can be used accelerating,rather than braking.
Here's a good example of why premium brakes are needed on a street car.My car hits over 120mph in the first quarter mile,and is over 140mph at the end of the next quarter mile.My stock brakes could not stop my car quickly if god was my co-pilot.I seriously need brakes that can stop the car faster than it accelerates,which it cannot do with the stock brakes.The kit I want to get is capable of stopping a car as if it had 1000hp worth of brakes(distance to 100mph with 1000hp,reversed into braking distance).Considering that there are a lot of street cars faster than mine,safety is important.What happens when I put a motor capable of 135mph quarters in/on the street flooring it means letting off quickly with stock brakes,otherwise crash I'm dead.Seriously,going fast in a straight line needs equal or better brakes to keep people from killing themselves.I feel that there is no excuse for a high powered third generation f-body (more than 350hp) to have 12" rotors minimum.Hell,you spent a lot of money to make it fast,spend a little more for your security.By the way,the next part I buy for my car is the 13" front/12" rear drilled brakes from Baer, no exceptions.