Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Latemodel Restoration Five Lug Cobra Brake Kit - Five-Lug Fever
Cobra brakes cut stopping distances, wide tires improve grip, new wheels bring the bling—and thanks to Latemodel Restoration, it all bolts on.
After a two-week Internet expedition followed by a month-long Craigslist safari, we still hadn’t rounded up the parts necessary for a complete five-lug swap on the Smog-Legal Killer. Strike one.
Sure, I could have used an SN-95 rear end, but its wider track limits rim/tire choices. I could’ve also settled for SN-95 GT brakes, but they aren’t nearly as good as the Cobra pieces. Strike two. A second pair popped up for sale, but both sides had been cross-threaded and the pistons were in need of a rebuild. Strike three.
After a wasted month of searching, calling, and driving a combined 242 miles at $4 per gallon, I realized there’s something to be said for a complete bolt-on kit. In addition to saving time, gas, money, and headaches, all of the pieces are new.
My first impressions of a complete five-lug and big brake kit were that of doubt. I thought they were pricey. But now having installed the 31-spline, five-lug Cobra brake kit from LatemodelRestoration.com (PN SVE-2300CK), I can say, save the hassle because having an all-in-one kit is priceless. But before delving into the details of this killer kit, we should highlight the reasons for jumping to big brakes—five lugs and stout axles.
Five Is Better Than Four
While some might deem a five-lug swap nothing more than an aesthetic upgrade only necessary for modern wheels, our reasons for jumping to the complete kit were far more important.
Reason one: The stock brakes were never confidence inspiring, as even slowing with the stock motor from it’s 100-mph trap speeds required serious leg pressure on a numb pedal. Fast forward to our first outing with the blower motor and hauling down the hay became a white-knuckle affair. With traps speeds over 120 mph adequate brakes were in order. The archaic one-piston front rotors and rear drums weren’t up to the task of stopping 530 hp.
Reason two: snap, bang, boom. With the tach up at 2,500 rpm and the SSP coupe deep staged, it was time to let it fly on Mickey Thompson ET Radials. The initial hit looked good and the weight transferred nicely, but when it nosed over with a loud ping, we knew a stock axle was toast—time for an upgrade.
Reason three: Modern wheels. Lets face it, even the Ford Focus comes with five-lug wheels. And if you’re like us, modern underpinnings and big wheels look great on a Fox-body. A quick peruse of some catalogs proved there were far more five-lug wheel choices than the old four-lug setups. Yeah, we likely could have found some 17-inch four-lug wheels, but moving to five-lug axles opens Pandora’s box.
Five Lugs, Big Brakes, One Kit
Swapping the puny factory Fox-body brakes for the two-piston front and single-piston rear units off the ’94-’04 Cobras isn’t anything new, but LatemodelRestoration.com broke new ground with the SVE-2300K brake system. This complete kit comes with everything needed to upgrade to the Cobra brakes, save for dust shields.
Up front are two-piston SVE Cobra calipers, available in red or black powdercoat, along with 13-inch Powerslot vented and slotted rotors. The front units are 3 inches bigger than the Fox-body equipment, and the calipers are a two-piston design instead of the factory one-piston. But that’s not all. Stainless steel braided lines connect the calipers to the factory hard lines, and the archaic bearing-in-rotor Fox front spindle setup is jettisoned in favor of an OEM Ford ’96-up spindle. The later spindle increases the track width and also sports a better hub design.
Moving rearward, you’ll find Moser five-lug Street Axles, available in 28- or 31-spline variants, along with two bottles of Royal Purple 75w-90 gear oil, and even the necessary Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) friction modifier. Since the 11.65-inch vented rear discs replace the factory drums, LRS even includes North Racecars brackets that make hanging the rear discs a bolt-on job. Along with the powdercoated calipers, Powerslot vented rotors, and StopTech performance pads, you’ll also find all the OEM equipment needed for the parking-brake assembly.
Despite the significant task of moving from Fox drums to rear discs, this kit makes the swap a bolt-on job, save for the small modifications needed to the rear hard brake lines. “The stock Fox-body hard lines are a little too long for the rear Cobra calipers, so you need to cut, shorten, and reflare the lines, and in some cases, you might need to increase the two 90-degree bends into more of a Z- shape, but it’s all pretty simple,” said Jonathan McDonald of Latemodel Restoration.com.
Fear not, a simple YouTube search will show you how to cut and double flare the line, but for those who would rather throw on a pre-fabbed unit, Classic Tube has a bolt-on line (PN MU1021C-SS) available in raw- or stainless-steel that’s bent and cut specifically for a Fox-body with rear Cobra brakes. It’s a nice piece that simply bolts into place.
Moving under the hood, the LRS kit even comes with a ’93 Cobra master cylinder, Maximum Motorsports 3-2 port conversion unit, and a FRPP rear proportioning valve. The bigger master helps decrease pedal pressure since you’re now moving a ton more fluid, and the proportioning valve helps balance braking forces because the rear discs have much more bite than the stock drums.
We turned to Stanton Performance in Martinez, California, for some guidance. Shop owner Jeremy Stanton is a serious mechanic, and even a trained chemist, so installing the LatemodelRestoration.com bolt-on five-lug kit was child’s play. Although the installation is nearly a remove-and-replace affair, plan for at least one full day to complete the process since you’ll be upgrading many parts. Thankfully, Latemodel Restoration.com has a three-part article on its site with detailed step-by-step instructions should you have any head-scratching moments.
After the install, remember to properly bleed the brakes of any air–this may take several rounds since you’re starting with so many new components. Bench-bleeding the master cylinder can expedite the process. After the air is purged from the system, it’s time to bed in the brakes, which means making repetitive stops from 60-5 mph, near threshold braking. This will ensure that proper pad material will transfer to the rotors for better performance and less noise. Be sure not to come to a complete stop or you can glaze the pads.
Baby’s Got New Shoes
With the five-lug setup done, our trusty 10-holes no longer fit our Fox, so LatemodelRestoration.com saved us from disaster again with 17-inch chrome ’03-’04 Cobra replica wheels. These wide rollers measure a stout 9 inches wide, allowing for serious rubber choices. With an offset and backspacing of 26-plus mm and 6.02 inches, we’ll easily tuck wide meats on all corners.
The Cobra wheels are available in chrome, black, or machined face with a deep lip, and also come in 10.5-inch should you want 315s out back. We opted for the chrome to take your eyes off the weathered SSP body and transfer the focus onto the good stuff—what’s underneath.
New rims are nothing without proper rubber, so we had Ace Tire Company in Martinez, California, spoon on Mickey Thompson Street Comp tires. These Ultra High Performance summer tires offer the grip of Tier 1 tires at the price of a Tier 2 model, which means we’re winning on all fronts. They won’t break the bank, and stick like glue thanks to an asymmetric tread design and a sticky, yet long-lived UTOG rating of 300 AA A, which means the Street Comps will perform well at the limit and still last tens of thousands of miles. We opted for 275/40-17s on all corners for increased traction. In the coming issues, we’ll highlight the necessary modifications needed to tuck the wide meats up front.
Putting It To The Test
Although the following was a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison since we couldn’t test the new brakes on the same 15-inch Pirelli tires used with the stock setup, it’s still pertinent information because the brake and tire upgrades significantly cut down stopping distances.
With our Racelogic VBOX, we made four consecutive panic stops from 60-mph-to-0 and recorded the results. The stock setup was startlingly horrible, as stopping distances were longer than a 10,000-pound F-350 Duelie. If that wasn’t bad enough, with each test the pedal got softer and softer until it was on the floor. Lets also not forget that with each baseline test the distances increased by a considerable margin.
With the Latemodel Restoration big brake kit, matching 17-inch wheels, and Mickey Thompson tires, pedal feel was firm and consistent, and the combo not only shaved 54 feet of the first test, but the subsequent tests were all within a few feet. This means brake fade was virtually nonexistent and stopping distances were seriously decreased.
While these numbers are impressive on paper, in reality the 54-plus feet is the difference between rear-ending a car in traffic and stopping short.
|60-0 Braking Test|
|Stock||Latemodel Restoration SVE-2300K|