I recently drove a VF Engineering-supercharged Spyker C8, which is not equipped with power-assisted brakes. I was reminded of the importance of each and every part of the braking system, down to the brackets, pads, and fluid. And while the Spyker’s brakes are ideal for use at the track, for street use you might feel better off using your feet, Flintstone-style. No matter the horsepower you have under the hood, the braking system is a crucial part to any vehicle. There’s a tendency to think of a braking system as a whole and I often hear my brakes suck or I just upgraded my brakes. However, the braking system is modular and its efficiency and effectiveness is determined by the sum of its parts.
Big brake kits are designed to replace the stock external braking system parts (rotors, calipers, lines) and are re-engineered to combine high performance with aesthetic design. The caliper rigidity and piston area are increased and larger rotor surfaces with slotted or drilled designs allow for better cooling and less heat build-up. AP Racing, distributed by Stillen, has various kits suitable for most driving needs, whether it be for the track or a daily driver, and their combinations of caliper sizes, pad compounds, and rotors allow you to choose the right kit for your needs. One of AP’s latest innovations is the Strap Drive System for big-brake rotors. The disc achieves better balance and expansion contraction rates by using a series of stainless steel straps that produce a flexible coupling between the rotor hub and disc surface, which gives better pedal feel and brake response while reducing noise.
Price: Varies by application
Since heat is such a critical issue in your brake system, Evosport has developed a set of front and rear heat shields, dubbed Ti-shims, for the Mercedes-AMG 6.2-liter-equipped vehicles. These special titanium shims are strategically placed between the brake pad and the caliper pistons to prevent heat transfer from the rotors and pads to the brake fluid. Because titanium has a lower thermal conductivity compared to steel or aluminum, the shims work almost like an oven mitt that prevents your from burning your hands. Reducing the heat transfer decreases the risk of boiling your fluid boiling to maintain optimum braking power.
At a microscopic level, most stock calipers are a matrix of nooks and crannies that can become filled with sooty black brake dust and can be a pain to clean. The High Performance Caliper Paint Kit from Dupli-Color offers a solution to enhance your brakes’ looks and make your car pop. The brush-on paint comes in a variety of colors (red, yellow, black satin, silver, blue) and application requires simply masking the caliper off with tape without having to remove it. And since brake calipers tend to generate so much heat, the paint includes heat dissipating ceramic resins to resist blistering, flaking, or peeling.
Price: $17.99 (est.)
Porsche pioneered caliper design as an art form and showed the world that brakes could have both form and functionthe ability to stop on a dime and look good doing it. But to many the ability to install Porsche calipers on their own car can be a costly undertaking. With Apikol’s adapter brackets, anyone can have the a Porsche Boxster caliper gracing their Audi A3/TT or VW Mk V or Mk VI chassis for a reasonable price. Apikol sells the CNC-machined, zinc-plated bracket by itself to allow for the installation of a Boxster caliper over a stock A3, TT, or GTI rotor. For Rabbits or Jettas without these 312mm rotors or for those who want a whole new system, Apikol also offers a kit that includes all the necessary parts for the conversion: rotors, pads, lines, and calipers.
Price: $1,149 (kit); $239 (bracket only)