When it comes to performance upgrades, we all want to make the number; if we’re talking stopping distances, we want that number to be small. But it’s too easy to focus on the end product rather than the nature of the improvement. For example, we often evaluate braking prowess in terms of simple stopping distance–how rapidly, measured in feet, does the vehicle decelerate from 60 mph to zero? And of course, we were looking for substantially shorter stopping distances when we called on Performance Online (POL) to outfit a big-block-packing Chevelle with its 13-inch big brake kit up front, accompanied by 12-inch rear discs to replace the factory drums, and the necessary master cylinder/prop valve combo to run it. And while we did cut our stopping distances, the fact that we converted this A-body from manual to power brakes by installing a Hydroboost hydraulic brake assist unit taught us that the effort it takes to stop short can be as important as stopping distance itself.
Our subject for this experiment, Jeremiah Becker’s ’66 ‘Velle, was fresh out of the paint booth when it graced the cover of our Mar. ’07 issue. Becker’s ride is actually well-endowed when it comes to suspension, since it’s outfitted with a Hotrods to Hell Centerdrive Truckarm rear system, tubular front control arms, and a tall B-body spindle setup. Becker had also added some pretty good rolling stock to his ride, specifically Nitto NT555 Extremes, 245/45ZR17 up front and 285/40ZR17 out back. The braking setup, however, was not particularly high-zoot. The front package included the big single-piston B-body calipers, but these binders were backed up by the factory rear drum brakes and activated by a manual master cylinder. Even so, we actually got a stopping distance of 158 feet out of the old A-body in baseline form.
But it’s not always about the bottom line. While we got the most out of the rear drums and B-body front discs and came up with a decent 60-0 number, it took maximum effort to achieve…
View entire article | Source: Chevy High Performance | Posted: 02.2009