Disc Brakes?

I’d love to change at least my front brakes to disk brakes as it takes forever to stop. I’d love to pull some from an old car or find something that is plug and play. I can easily fabricate something if that would be the best approach. The current brakes take forever to stop, and I’d like something that is safer with all the crazy drivers we have in the bay area. Have people done this? What types of brakes did you use? Are their previous threads on this?

There are lots of options at a junk yard, if we had some idea of what kind of car you are intending to upgrade. Is it a Cougar? If so, what year?


One option

I converted my '68 manual drum brake car to '70 power discs. I liked the idea of using era-appropriate factory parts. Will make it easy to service in the future, or at least that’s the idea. It was fairly straightforward. Here’s my video on the conversion (4 years ago, wow): https://youtu.be/H6959c6ayKI

Hi all,

Thanks for the input. I have a 1967 Cougar. I assume not all brakes are created equally. What is something that would provide quickest braking? I’m a prototype engineer and can easily design adapter plates on CAD and fabricate them. I have a water jet and full machine shop at work.

The brakes on my car started out as manual drums and I converted to the '67 style Kelsey-Hayes 4-piston brakes. They are typically not the first choice for a conversion, as leaking seems to be a common theme. The front spindles are the same for the '67 (and '68) drums and for discs in '67, so with the K-H setup you don’t have to change spindles. My initial switch over used calipers and mounts from a '67 390 car, which just bolted on with no other modification. I ended up getting new Stainless Steel Brake Co. front calipers and haven’t had any issues with them to this point, but they’ve only been on for well less than a year. I think quite a few other conversions will require newer spindles, which isn’t necessarily a bad deal. One other thing to consider is whether you currently have power or manual brakes. The brake pedal is different (for leverage) depending on whether it’s power or manual. Mine was manual, so I stayed with manual brakes. Manual discs were never an option on Cougars, so I had to piece things together a bit. My master cylinder is designed for a mid-70’s Maverick and I installed a manual proportioning valve in the rear brake line. I also had to adjust the pushrod length between the pedal and MC. I’ve been relatively pleased with the braking performance. I can lock all 4 tires up if I try hard enough. Power brakes would obviously make it easier, but it adds a fair amount of complexity.

Since you are looking to change the brakes I imagine that total originality is not a concern. If that is correct and I was in your shoes the first thing I would look for would be a complete 68 Cougar/Mustang power disc brake setup. If I could not find one then I would look for a 69 or 70 setup. Just be sure to know exactly what year the donor car was as there are differences between the years for some parts. If you go that route be sure that you get the brake pedal, brake light switch, power booster, master cylinder, proportioning valve, front brake line holders that bolt to the side of the frame, spindles, dust shields, calipers and as much hardware as you can get. Some of the parts listed will only be good for cores, others will need rebuilding. I have some of those parts here. I believe that I have a fairly complete 69 and 70 setup here.

Another route that a lot of people used to use was the setup off a Mercury Monarch/Ford Granada. If you use the spindle setup from one of them as I recall you need to use 70 Cougar outer tie rod ends. Then you still need to come up with a power booster/master cylinder setup.

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

The original Kelsey-Hayes style 4 piston front brakes work great. A lot of companies sell kits for those at very reasonable prices, and include everything from the proportioning valve to the proper master cylinder for this.

They work with stock drum spindles just fine, so you don’t have to mess around with tie rod ends and all that nonsense either. When I converted my car to the Granada front spindles, there were not as many options available. IMHO, it’s pointless to go to the big single-piston setups, as they require either bracket fabrication or different spindles, and they generally don’t work quite as well as the earlier setup. Going with the K/H brakes means no issues with bumpsteer or Ackermann angle problems on your car, since you are using essentially original type equipment.

Another big advantage to this setup is that it works with original 14" rims and tires (or any other larger size you care to put on).

If you plan to go autocross racing or do a lot of high-speed stops for some other reason all at once, you may want to consider some of the late-model Mustang brake conversions from MustangSteve, but those will require 17" rims, etc. I like his setup for the simple reason that parts will be available for many years to come, since it’s all stock Ford equipment too.

Aftermarket kits from companies like Wilwood and Baer are generally good quality, but in time, it may become very hard to find replacements if they wear out or have problems.

The previous owner swapped over to a granada setup on my car which was an original manual drum brake setup. He only partially finished as he never did install the correct master cylinder. I simply got a 68 master and booster and did the power booster swap. My car is a 3 speed so I ended up modifying an automatic power brake pedal to fit and finished it off. Seems to work fine now that it has the correct parts on it but have not been on the road much.

If I was to do it from scratch I think I would go with a wilwood or similar kit. I have had wilwood on previous vehicles and like them. Also tempting are the newer mustang brake swaps too

The kit from Stainless Steel brakes is a bolt on using your original spindles. That’s the easiest and cheapest way I think.

Junkyard options are many, particularly using a 68 - 69 Cougar / Mustang set up, or 1970 - 73 Cougar / Mustang, or 1974 - 1978 Granada / Monarch / Versailles. If you use any of the 1970 or later versions you would also need the tie rods and the steering drag link due to larger stud sizes at the drag link and spindles. As was mentioned, the 1968 or later versions won’t allow using the skinny 5 1/2" 1967 wheels.

Thanks for all of the information. How’s the one from stainless steel brakes?

I installed one of their kits maybe 15 years ago. It was great.

Diskbrakeswap.com (CSRP) sells a Granada conversion for a reasonable price. Their kit includes everything you need for the swap. Great customer service. You can get loaded calipers from them for less than the cost of pads.

I have the SSBC Kit on my 69, it has been great

Would you guys mind telling me exactly which kits you got?

Maybe check these guys out.

Checkout chockostang too… A very reasonably priced kit.

I have a Chockostang kit in my 68. It is OK. In the install had some issues with brake pedal interference and getting correct brake light switch. The repop brake pedal had to be ground down at top to fit. I’m also not crazy about the aftermarket brake booster. My guess is that any kit using these offshore parts is likely to share the same problems.

My swap will be different I have 4 wheel power drum and I just wanna upgrade to front disk… Can reuse my pedal, booster…

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