Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
April 1, 2007

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For many of us, speed is the number-one priority. Installing engine compo-nents that produce more horsepower puts a smile on our faces when we step on the loud pedal. Lacking from this equation, however, is the ability to properly bring said fun machine down from triple-digit speeds in a quick and precise manner.

All too often, we neglect the things that don't make the car go faster, like brakes, but in every arena aside from drag racing, great brakes help produce quicker times, both in their ability to allow later braking points and by giving the driver repeatable results that allow him/her to drive on "the edge" lap after lap, thus reducing times.

With all the wheel choices out there, we spent way too much time pondering what shoes to equip project Stolen Goods with. In the end, we went with an R-model look, but bigger and meaner.

By starting your build with the suspension and brakes, you'll be able to extract maximum performance from your stock powerplant. Once you have wrung it out, then you should improve the engine output. But don't forget that your brakes may need to be upgraded as well.

The factory disc/drum brake setup on LX and GT 5.0 Mustangs was no doubt lacking from the start, but it hasn't stopped most of us from doing plenty of burnouts and quarter-mile attacks. For those who want to do something other than the aforementioned fun acts, it's in your best interest to step up the stock braking package to something more reliable and predictable.

Forged from the coals of Dearborn as a '93 Mustang Cobra, Project Stolen Goods came equipped from the factory with a four-wheel disc-brake system that improved stopping per-formance. The '93 Snake's front brakes featured two-piston calipers with 10.84-inch vented rotors, while the 8.8 axle was equipped with single-piston clamps and vented 10.07-inch discs.

This setup was great for the Cobra's stock 235hp rating, and it gave those looking to flex the Snake's muscle more track time before the brakes got hot and the pedal went to mush, which happened 100 feet out into the first stop with the stock GT brakes. Unfortunately for us, Stolen Goods had its brakes excised long ago, which sent us looking for some suitable stoppers.

In 1993, the Cobra R Mustang received upgraded two-piston PBR aluminum calipers and 13-inch vented rotors up front and single-piston calipers with vented 10.5-inch discs out back. Our plan of attack with this project has been to exceed the performance of the '93 R model, so we gave Baer Brake Systems a call to see what it could do for our venomous serpent.

Baer included braided stainless steel brake lines with the kit. Luckily, Stolen Goods had its rear-axle brake lines still attached to the car, so we popped them in the holders on the 8.8 housing and connected the braided stainless lines.

As we've stated before, we plan to take Stolen Goods to the limit at various autocrosses and road courses once she's up and running. While the stock brake setup may be good for the average parking-lot cone-bashing session, real road-course duty is a different animal, with many courses offering an abundant amount of time at triple-digit speeds. Decelerating from these speeds takes its toll on the braking com-ponents, so you better have something that has been designed for just such an environment.

That's exactly where the Baer 6S and 6R calipers thrive, and that's what Baer recom-mended for Stolen Goods. The 6S (Street) and 6R (Race) Monoblock six-piston calipers are manufactured in-house at Baer from single chunks of billet or forged aluminum alloy. In order to make these race-oriented calipers friendly for street use, Baer installs road-going dust and weather seals. The Monoblock con-struction provides a much stiffer caliper, and Baer's "cost-effective Monoblock solution" makes these race-ready brakes affordable for the high-performance street enthusiast. If you're interested in the Monoblock calipers, visit the Baer Web site as it has a great slide show that takes you through the development and manu-facture of the 6S/6R caliper.

Since the majority of braking is done with the front brakes, the rear brakes do not need to be so massive. Baer sent us its Track Kit Plus, which includes a single piston rear caliper with parking brake, and vented 13-inch rotors. The Extreme Plus front setup that we're using employs 14-inch discs, and both front and rear rotors are zinc-washed, cross-drilled, slotted, and use Baer's two-piece design, which forms the center hub from aluminum for weight savings. This design also allows for differential expansion of the rotor plates and lowers thermal transfer to the hub, thus prolonging bearing life.

Installing the Baer brakes was pretty simple given what we've accomplished so far. Baer includes everything you need to mount them up, and the only real modification we needed to make was something we decided to do on our own. In order to connect the new front brake lines, which are braided stainless steel, you'll need to either bend the hard line to fit the new bracket, or use the provided bracket and mate it to the factory piece, which is what we did.

In using the Monoblock calipers, we needed to step up to 18-inch diameter wheels. Baer has seen some 17-inchers work, but 18s are far more common these days, so you should have a better selection.

After weeks of deliberation, we called American Muscle and ordered a set of its FR500 replica wheels with a sinister black finish. We Photoshopped a few wheels on Stolen Goods and felt that the semi-R model appearance looked great against the Teal hue.

In choosing the FR500-style wheel from American Muscle, we were able to order a staggered fitment with 18x9-inch (5.85 back-space, 24 mm offset) wheels for the front and fat 18x10s (6.38 backspace, 22 mm offset) for the rear. Though the 18x10s were designed for the SN-95 cars, they fit perfectly underneath the Fox-body with the stock track width.

The master cylinder swap was easy for us, as we didn't have to drain anything. Just make sure you pick up a set of line wrenches so you don't round off any of the fittings. This is especially easy to do with older or high-mileage cars.

Up front, we ran into a bit of an issue with the hub of the Baer brake assembly and center hole of the front wheels. There is a slight protrusion into the center hole, which prevents the wheel from sitting flush on the rotor, however a 1/4-inch wheel spacer moved it out enough to bolt up the wheel. We're going to look into the issue further to see if we can mill the wheel or the hub to fit flush, as the wheel sticks out of the fender farther than we would like it to. We would also like to have the lug nuts thread down the studs more since we will be exerting quite a bit of lateral load on the wheel/hub assembly.

The FR500-style wheels are available in Black, Chrome Anthracite, and Hypercoat finishes, and American Muscle offers numerous center cap designs to choose from, not to mention lug nuts. The 18x9s retail for a mere $179.99 and the 18x10s are just $189.99, though last time we checked, both were on sale for about $150.00. American Muscle offers free shipping on all of its wheels, and it can put together a wheel/tire package as well.

Obviously, tires are critical in a car that's destined for road-course duty, and since we plan to drive it on the street a bit, we didn't want to go with a full-race tire, at least not yet. That said, we called up the folks at Falken Tire Corporation and ordered a set of Azenis RT-615 radials.

The RT-615 is a street and competition tire that features an improved motorsports-grade cap compound to maintain grip over a wide range of operating temperatures. Falken also increased the internal void ratio for enhanced wet grip and aquaplane resistance under competition conditions. The non-directional tire design allows for easy rotation, and the 200 tread-wear rating and A/A UTQG rating qualifies it for SCCA Street Tire Class competition.

Since Baer sends them assembled on the spindle, all you have to do is set it on the ball joint and fasten the two strut bolts.

Since we went with a staggered fitment with the FR500-style wheels, we did the same with the tires and ordered 265/35/18s for the front and 275/35/18 for the rear. Sure, it is a low sidewall ratio, but if we put too tall of a tire on the wheel, it just wouldn't look at home in the tight Fox-body wheelwell.

Once the tires were mounted, we were extremely pleased with the sidewall height. We probably could have gone a little narrower with the front tires to tuck them under the fender a bit more, but they are ideally sized for the 9-inch rim, so it's not much of a concern at all. Prices for the RT-615s vary with size and dealer, and our test subjects came in around $230 each.

Next month, we plan to have the front wheel issue worked out, but more importantly, we're meeting up with Astro Performance who is going to build us one killer transmission for Stolen Goods. In the meantime, check out the captions to see just how easy it is to hook up your Fox body with killer brakes and a hot wheel/tire combination.