Corvette C5/C6 Brake upgrades defined!

Current brake upgrades for the C5/C6 Corvette can be categorized in two types. First are the so called “Big Brake” upgrades and second are OEM sized replacement rotors.

First let’s talk about the downsides to the "Big Brake" upgrades. Priced between $2000.00-$3200.00 these kits offer truly awesome stopping performance. However the downside is the installation and cost. All of the current "Big Brake" kits on the market require either installing 18inch wheels on the front of the car so the caliper will clear, installing spacers and longer wheel studs to move your stock wheel out 20-25mm, and or modification of your suspensions A-arm. All of these are either expensive or potentially unsafe methods of accomplishing your braking goals. Even cheaper properly sized 18inch reproduction front wheels and tires cost nearly $1000.00 on top of the price of the brake kit! And changing the vehicles geometry by adding spacers is never a good idea. Not only is this unsafe but I’ve seen some of the spacer equipped cars look quite odd with the front wheels pushed out past the front fender well.

Secondly is OEM sized replacement rotors. Up until about 2 years ago these consisted of OEM GM rotors that where simply drilled and slotted on a press. Nothing was special about the rotor performance, and the changes only seemed to add to aesthetics. Even popular distributors knew of the inferior quality and added a disclaimer stating they were for "appearance enhancement only". These rotors ranged in pricing from $250-400.00 depending on where they were purchased. Then about 2 years ago a popular manufacture stepped up to the plate and started offering a two-piece OEM sized replacement rotor. Even I was enthused and immediately went out and bought a set. The look of these crossdrilled and slotted rotors where truly amazing. However the $850.00 price tag was overkill. And sure enough after a single 20 minute session at a track day the anodizing started to lighten. By the end of that day the black center rotor hats had turned purple, so much for a manly looking rotor. I had plans to disassemble the rotor and spending the money to have the hat properly treated. However after just one more track day the rotor began to crack around the holes and eventually got even worse. I had also tried two types of brake pads--a street and an elevated race pad--but both ate up the rotor surface. I have had fantastic results from these pads and can only assume that the rotor manufacturer cared too much about touting its weight savings and used a cheaper grade of metal for the rotor surface area.