Upgrading the brakes on my Shelby

I was coming back from a car show a couple of years ago in 2017. It was a warm, sunny spring Sunday. I had won another trophy at the club’s car show. Heading north I had to take an exit to go West for home. This particular exit went into a sweeping blind corner to get on the highway to go West. As I turned into the exit I suddenly realized all the traffic was stopped in front of me. I managed to get my car stopped but I was not sure. And the car shifted to the right towards the retaining wall. It took more than just the brakes to slow and stop the car. I quickly downshifted. These brakes needed some attention.

I talked to Chris Mortensen at Samaritan Tire about how to upgrade my brakes. He told me to research what was available. Back on the internet I discovered there are a number of options available. The original front brakes were Kelsey Hayes single piston. Kelsey Hayes no longer offers replacement brakes if they are even still in business.

This is a picture of the new brakes on a 66 Mustang setting right beside my Shelby at Samaritan Tire. This is the KH reproduction disc brake.

But there were a handful of companies that offered reproductions of the stock replacement units. While looking, I ran across Wilwood’s classic 4 piston front discs.

Which one would you put on your car if both units were about the same price?

As in other things I have looked at for my car, these brakes would fit but will they work with my existing spindles and fit my 15″ wheels? I called Wilwood. The guy told me these were a simple bolt on deal but could not guarantee me they would fit my rims. And worse, told me if I mounted these to the car and the wheels didn’t fit, they would not take them back. I called CJ Pony, who also carried these brakes, that fellow assured me they would fit, and if they didn’t CJ would take them back.

I ordered the Wilwood brakes and had them shipped to Samaritan Tire. Chris assured me he could determine if the brakes would fit my rims without mounting them to the car. Turned out the Wilwood fit better than the KH single piston units. But it also turned out not to be a simple bolt on. The bolts for mounting the discs to the existing spindle required a much larger bolt. The existing bolts were pretty small and these new bolts were 3/8. We had to drill out and tap/thread the spindles.

Spindle and Disc Brake installed

My power brake booster quit on me as I was working on this project. You don’t appreciate power brakes until you don’t have them anymore. Added a new power brake booster and master cylinder to the shopping list.

Picture of my new Power Brake Booster and Master Cylinder, after it had set outside for a couple of months. Note the rusted Master Cylinder, a gift from Dan Mattila’s shop. This pic is at the shop that removed & installed the engine.

My guess is this kit was designed to replace a drum brake set up and would have bolted right up to that. Not a big deal drilling out the stock spindles and cheaper than replacing them.

Wilwood rotor mounted. The gold rod to the right is the upgraded strut rod.


Wilwood Disc Brake Specs

Wilwood Front Disc Brake Kit Dynalite
4-Piston Black Drilled and Slotted 11.3″
V8 Spindles 1965-1966/1967-1969

Wilwood Black Dynalite 4-Piston Front Disc Brake Kit with 11.3″ Drilled and Slotted Rotors for 1965-1966 Mustangs with V8 Spindles and all 1967, 1968 and 1969 Mustangs.

Looking to upgrade the front brakes on your 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 or 1969 Classic Mustang? Wilwood’s front disc brake kit is an affordable performance upgrade, better than your original front brakes. This kit features 4-piston forged aluminum calipers and 11.30″ diameter drilled and slotted one-piece vented rotors. This kit will not only provide disc brake upgrade solutions for OE drum or disc spindles, but it will also require zero modifications for proper installation, clearing most 14″ OEM disc brake wheels.
Kit Features: 

  • Comes in a Black or Red Powder Coated Finish
  • Complete Bolt-in Kit
  • 5 Lug Disc Brake Conversion
  • Fully Compatible With Manual Steering
  • Fully Compatible With Power Steering 
  • Metallic-Composite Brake Pads
  • Drilled and Slotted Upgraded Rotors
  • Requires Zero Installation Modifications
  • Made in USA!
    Included Hardware: 
  • Pair of Caliper Brackets
  • All Necessary Hardware
  • Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines
  • Bearings
  • Seals
  • Dust Caps
  • Detailed Instructions
  • The Dynalite 4-piston calipers are constructed out of stainless steel which helps against corrosion and reduces heat transfer. With this being a floating caliper design Wilwood’s front brake kit provides superior clamping power which decreases the stopping distance greatly.
  • Wilwood’s Smart Pad brake pads feature a medium-friction compound with very low noise and minimum dust of a street performance compound, plus the increased characteristics of a race compound brake pad. The Wilwood smart brake pads have smooth engagement, with consistent response from a flat torque curve throughout their entire effective heat range.
  • This one piece drilled and slotted rotor design is precision machined for smoother engagement which provides for a long lasting rotor life even with heavy braking situations. The drilled and slotted rotors get rid of the heat provided from the heavy clamping force of the caliper. The rotor is coated in a durable e-coat finish prevents corrosion from occurring.

My Feedback on these front discs

Love these front disc brakes. Sure, it doesn’t stop like my 2017 Mustang does. But these are a HUGE improvement over the stock brakes. Confidence in the brakes is nice.

I didn’t swap out the rear brakes from the drums. I did upgrade to Porterfield racing shoes and new drums. And we put new brakes lines on it. Disc brakes in the rear are on my wish list.

See more images of the Wilwood disc brake install at Samaritan Tire. Click here.