Hang around old car guys long enough and you’ll hear plenty of conversations that start with, “What was the first car to have…?” When it comes to disc brakes, I am surprised by the number of answers that seem to be floating around.
Many acknowledge the English built the 1902 Lanchester as the first with disc brakes. Others claim the 1949 Crosley or perhaps the 1955 Citroen. Regardless who was first, those disc brakes just work, which is why most modern cars are equipped with them. By the 1960s, the horsepower and speed of cars had grown to a point that the traditional styled drum brakes were being tested to their limits.
Disc brakes offer better stopping characteristics, run cooler, are less prone to brake fade, and are easier to check and service. These advantages over drum brakes have made them commonplace on most modern cars, but also the “Number 1” upgrade most classic car enthusiasts make to their cars. Even many classic car clubs will overlook a brake upgrade when judging for originality, as it is widely considered a safety item and safety comes first.
While automakers quickly adopted front disc brakes as a standard, and the front brakes account for 70% of a car’s braking, rear disc brakes first seen on performance cars have become an increasingly popular upgrade on classic cars as well.
1967 Ford Mustang owner Pat Hazel admits in part he wanted to upgrade his car for the safety of disc brakes, but with his open-wheel design, it was also an appearance consideration. Regardless of your motivation, we believe a rear disc brake conversion can be a great upgrade if you’re looking for additional peace of mind.
We teamed up with Pat to bring his classic Mustang into the modern era, as we take this project step-by-step through the process of removing the old brake components and installing the new rear disc brakes. While the entire installation process only took a few hours, the benefits will be enjoyed for years to come.