One integral part of a classic vehicle that is often overlooked is the braking system. By our estimate, only one in five restored or mildly modified muscle cars has any kind of upgraded brake system--a real eye opener when you consider how much safer an aftermarket brake system is. And we're not talking just high-end pro touring cars here. There is a significant performance and safety gap between a forty-year-old classic with vintage drums, and one with 11-inch discs. We are currently upgrading our 1968 Plymouth Valiant project car with an affordable disc brake upgrade from Wilwood, the idea being to retain our factory appearing 15-inch steel wheels and stealthy stock vibe. What we hope to gain once our Valiant is finished is a deceptively stock-looking Q-ship with the acceleration and stopping power of a modern muscle machine.
“I love the Dynalite kits, they’re affordable, work great, and they let you keep a classic 15-inch wheel on the car,” Dustin Burr, sales and marketing at Wilwood, said.
The brakes we chose for our project Valiant depended heavily on the look of the car. Packing an all-aluminum, 500ci low-deck Indy Wedge capable of producing 657 hp, it was important to keep the “sleeper” look for this project. The Valiant’s purpose will not be all-out handling, instead it will be terrorizing the streets of our hometown in sheep's clothing with 15-inch steel wheels, dog dish hubcaps, and redline tires from Coker. We chose the Wilwood Dynalite brake setup for that very reason; these four-piston, 11-inch rotor brakes easily fit inside 15-inch steel wheels, and even 14-inch wheels in some cases. Installing Wilwood brakes ensured our Plymouth will stun the competition with its incognito appearance.
At an inexpensive price of $695 from Reilly Motorsports (RMS), the front brake kit includes forged 4-piston Dynalite calipers with vented 11-inch discs. The rear brakes match the front; a set of Wilwood Dynapro 11-inch discs were installed with our Strange S60 rearend at an add-on price of $599.
“Our Dynalite kits are the best bang for the buck on the market," Burr said. "They’re nearly as inexpensive as stock replacements, shave up to 40 lbs off the nose of the car, and have excellent stopping power, all in a 15-inch wheel.”
For this installation we turned once again to Outlaw Motorsports in Riverside, CA. Outlaw's owner, Ron Aschtgen, installed our brakes while we photographed and documented the process with video, which we’ve also included. The install was simple, and we believe it to be attainable for anyone getting into the classic car hobby. Wilwood offers the Dynalite brakes for most ’60s and ’70s muscle cars from GM, Ford, and Chrysler. In our case we have a Mustang-II spindle as part of our RMS AlterKtion coilover front suspension, and Wilwood makes the Dynalite kit for both Mustang-II and Mopar spindles originally equipped with 9- and 10-inch drums.
To aid in making the brake install a slam dunk on a Mopar, RMS makes an upgraded billet master cylinder kit ($299) for Mopars that allows you to install any two-bolt GM-style master cylinder onto a Chrysler. The setup includes a 7/8-inch bore Wilwood master cylinder (for manual brakes), and an adjustable pushrod end to retain your stock pedal and pivot bolt. This is nice for anyone looking to avoid custom fabrications during their brake install.
“It’s funny how our hobby works, everyone buys more power, and then, once they’ve got enough to be afraid of it, they buy brakes,” Burr said.
We can't think of any good reason not to upgrade to a set of Wilwood Dynalites. Wilwood makes them for nearly every muscle car and they easily fit inside the stock steel wheels without spoiling the classic looks. What’s more, they're easy to bolt on, they work as good as if not better than anything coming out on modern cars, and they are scandalously affordable. Just ask yourself this question: when that modern car in front of you stops in a panic on the highway, do you really want to rely on 40-year-old drums to save your car from disaster, or even to save your life?