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Tech Review—Baer Brakes Fox-Mustang Upgrade

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Tech Review—Baer Brakes Fox-Mustang Upgrade
Written By Steve Baur
Photography by the author and courtesy of Baer Brakes
The concept of modifying your vehicle is to, at the least personalize it, and at the most improve it. Sometimes doing so with the wrong parts, however, can lead to less-than-favorable results. Here we look into a situation just like that, where the parts weren’t working as expected, but a switch to Baer Brakes products put the pony on the right path.
The vehicle in question is a 1979 Mustang GT Pace Car edition that was upgraded with a Gen I Coyote 5.0-liter engine and 6R80 transmission. It is regularly raced in NMRA Circle D Specialties True Street competition, and with the increased speeds of the more potent engine combination, the brakes were upgraded with ’03-’04 Mustang Cobra calipers and 13-inch rotors up front. At the time, the rear drum brakes remained, but as this car is mostly raced on track, the owner converted it to a manual braking system using a hand-me-down manual master cylinder. Unfortunately, the brake pedal was hard as a rock and the combination offered little in improved stopping power.
Multi-time True Street winner, Mike Jovanis, is a distributor for Baer Brakes and suggested several changes to the braking system to both improve the braking as desired, but also improve the pedal feel. Starting with the front end, Jovanis believed the existing factory Cobra calipers were plenty capable, but proposed upgrading the rotors to Baer’s Sport Rotors (PN 54045-020), which are the same 13-inches in diameter but have been cross-drilled and slotted for improved performance and zinc-plated for long-lasting good looks. Baer does offer a complete brake upgrade kit as well, should you need new rotors, calipers, and brake lines.
At the back of the Mustang, it was time to ditch the drums and move to a disc brake setup. To accomplish that, Jovanis recommended Baer’s 10.5-inch Classic Series Brake System (PN 4262727R) which includes the aforementioned rotors (plated, cross-drilled, and slotted just as with the fronts), braided stainless steel brake lines, single-piston calipers, and all of the necessary hardware and brackets to bolt everything up to the Mustang’s 8.8 rearend.
The parts list so far was sure to provide the performance that was desperately needed, but all of those parts rely on the correct master cylinder to make them perform at their best. With the Coyote swap taking up a lot of real estate in the engine bay, fitment would be critical. Thankfully, Jovanis has plenty of experience with his own Coyote-swapped Fox Mustang and knew exactly which one to go with. Baer’s Custom Remaster GM/Ford master cylinder (PN 6801XXX2) is manufactured from 6061 T6 billet aluminum and is a small, compact, one-piece unit with a two-bolt mounting flange. Baer’s Custom Remaster master cylinders are available in a number of finishes, but this one was anodized in a black finish to match the current engine bay aesthetic.
With the updates completed, car owner Dennis Fahey noted that the brake pedal offers ample travel now, where it was more of an on/off engagement previously. Because of this, it is easier to modulate the braking pressure. Fahey also noted that it now requires far less effort to achieve the necessary stopping performance. The improvement couldn’t have come at a better time, as there are plans for a supercharger upgrade in the Mustang’s near future, and being able to stop well will be all that more critical.
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(602) 233-1411

The 1994-2004 Mustang Cobra factory braking system was quite capable from the start. Swapped onto a Fox-body Mustang, this setup now benefits from a set of Baer Sport Rotors.

While the rear brakes don’t provide nearly as much stopping power as the front system, the stock drum brakes were long in the tooth and not nearly enough for the new powertrain that has nearly doubled the original factory horsepower rating.

One thing you must consider when upgrading your brakes is whether or not they will fit your wheels of choice. This Mustang had been previously upgraded with RC Components drag wheels and the 17x4-inch front skinnies already cleared the Cobra brakes. Out back, ensuring the new rear disc brake setup cleared the 15x9 rear wheels was essential. Baer Brakes distributor Mike Jovanis is well versed in Baer drag racing brake combinations and suggested 10.5-inch rear rotors and single-piston calipers which fit perfectly inside the rear 15x9-inch RC Components wheels.

The key to the braking system is the master cylinder and Baer’s Custom Remaster unit worked perfectly for this application. As there are a number of options available to customers, this one was ordered with a 15/16-inch bore size and a left port configuration, as the Coyote doesn’t leave much room for the brake lines to exit on the other side.

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