Getting their Chevys to go faster has been the main objective of most Camaro enthusiasts. But when you build a high-performance engine and are then able to substantially decrease your 0-to-60 mph times, you are equally increasing your stopping distance. As the saying goes, when you change one thing, you have to change another.
The normal way to improve a late model Camaro's stopping ability is to use high-performance pads. But sometimes that's not enough. Even high-performance pads can be burned up in one trip down the quarter-mile track or around a slalom course.
Late-model Camaros can be easily upgraded with heavy-duty braking systems that provide dramatic increases in stopping power. The lLE racing version of the Camaro has a brake system that includes 12-inch front rotors with aluminum calipers and performance brake pads. Upgrading your Camaro's front brakes to those of the lLE is a very simple task, but it may be a little more expensive than buying high-performance kits from aftermarket brake manufacturers such as Willwood and JFZ.
Although aftermarket kits work exceptionally well even in the toughest racing applications, for.your own peace of mind, you may prefer using factory pieces. The lLE pieces are available over the counter from your local Chevrolet dealer. The parts list in this article shows the part numbers for the components you'll need to order from Chevrolet, including some of the hard-to-find bolts. If you know of a local salvage or wrecking yard, you may be able to pick up these pieces for a lot less than they'll cost you new from the dealer. You'll need to look for any late-model Camaro or Firebird ('87 and up) with aluminum front calipers. And you'll have to be quick, because these cars normally disappear from salvage yards faster than you can blink.
We followed along as Vince Bunting of CH Topping in Long Beach, California, did an installation on a 1991 Camaro. Vince has a lot of experience in brake applications for high-performance street use and road racing, and he made some of his own suggestions about the installation as we went along.
One of his first suggestions was to drill the rotors and drums to increase braking power. Vince says that drilling the rotors and drums extends brake-pad life and substantially reduces heat. The reduced heat can increase your stopping power dramatically and virtually eliminates brake fade and glazing.
Once all the parts were gathered and the rotors were drilled, Vince proceeded with the installation. The components for this brake upgrade includes right and left spindles which will move your factory wheels outboard approximately l/2 inch. If your Camaro doesn't already have 16-inch wheels, you will have to pick up a s~t or purchase a set of aftermarket wheels in which the front has l/2 inch less backspacing. There is a caliper bracket that bolts to the outer side of the spindle and requires two bolts. You can get these bolts, which. should be at least a grade 8, from any reliable hardware store.
The rotors then are installed with new inner and outer bearings, washer and nut. The caliper mounting brackets bolt up to the bracket on the spindle with the factory bolts that should have Loctite on the threads. This bracket should slide over the rotor and should be a close ~lt, but shouldn't interfere with the rotor as it rotates.
The brake pads fit into the alu minum calipers, and they slide into the caliper mounting brackets. A pin slides through, between the caliper mounting bracket and a slot in the front of the brake pad, to hold things togethel: The calipers use a banjo bolt that feeds brake fluid from the hose to the caliper. The factory hoses will work, but it is a tight fit. Vince preferred to use Aeroquip hoses to make the brake line hose about one inch longer.
Once everything was in place, it was time to bleed the system and time for an alignment job. For slightly better cornering performance, the alignment was set to stock settings with Y2 degree negative camber.
The stopping power of the Camaro increased dramatically, and the lives of the brake pads and shoes were extended by the drilled rotors and drums. Vince recommends breaking in pads and rotors by being very easy on the brakes for the first 200 to 300 miles. This lets the pads set and keeps them from burning during hard braking.
The Camaro is one of the best performance cars on the street. As its horsepower increases, its stopping power should also increase to match. After all, you are already able to out-accelerate Porsches and Ferraris; you should be able to out-brake them as well.