The Baer Difference
With help from Baer's Rick Elam, it dawned on us that our 15-inch Bassett steelies were out of the question. We needed real estate inside those rims, plain and simple. New rims and tires would be required, so we hooked up with Year One for a set of their new bitchin 17x9 Rally wheels, and Continental for some Cross Contact 275/55R17 meats. (Check out the "Wheel & Tire Fitment" sidebar for details.) With the wheels on hand, we were able to do a virtual test-fit of several Baer brake systems by using bitmap templates that we printed out. (You can download them from the Baer website.) We mounted these on stiff cardboard, cut them out, and stuck them inside the Year One wheel to see if anything fit.

When it comes to brakes, bigger is truly better. That thought in mind, we wanted to put Baer's new six-piston Pro Plus system up front, but the sheer size of the six-piston caliper was just too large. Baer says the Pro Plus will fit on some 17-inch rims, but the template didn't clear the drop center of the Year One rim. The next size down was the Track-4 kit, which uses Baer's new four-piston T4 caliper. This was what we chose, being that it was the largest we could fit. The Track-4 kit combines the T4 caliper with 13-inch one-piece rotors, performance pads, billet hubs, spindles, and brake lines. Our Baer Claw Track-4 front kit also had the optional nickel plating on the calipers (an extra $100), which brought the system to $1,645.

It warrants pointing out that although many brake manufacturers have excellent hardware, the biggest advantage we've come to appreciate with Baer is the depth of their technical support. An effective brake system goes beyond pretty parts-a manufacturer has to understand the engineering principles and know what fits on a case-by-case basis. Right off the bat, Baer suggested we change master cylinder on the Laguna. Our large 1 1/8-inch diameter bore would not be able to provide sufficient pressure for the increased piston volume, so they supplied us with a 15/16-inch bore master cylinder from Classic Performance Products (PN 6150012, $115).

One of the reasons Baer has such good technical support is that they install and test their systems on a multitude of cars in-house. That task is largely the job of Baer technician, Dutch Miller. Baer's R&D installation center is colocated with Baer's manufacturing headquarters in Phoenix, an arrangement that allows Baer's engineering and manufacturing departments to work out potential real-world problems before they hit customers. Miller's unique position made him the perfect guy to install our Track-4 front system and CPP master cylinder. It's always a pleasure to work with Miller, and our Laguna's Track-4 kit was no exception. He was ready for us, and had us out the door in about a half day, including the time it took to replace the standard wheel studs with race-spec ARP studs.

With the Baer Track-4 system installed, we got no unexpected surprises on the 400-mile drive back to Southern California. Compared to our stock single-piston D52 calipers and 12-inch rotors, the four-piston T4 calipers and 13-inch rotors felt like throwing a grappling hook from the rear bumper-all while providing an evenly modulated braking force. These binders are truly as good as the name implies; we will have no problem beating on these brakes all-day long at the track, and that's an "aha" moment we'll be proud to experience!