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88 Potential Brake Upgrade? by Leviathan
Started on: 09-14-2014 12:11 AM
Replies: 2 (550 views)
Last post by: fieroguru on 09-14-2014 10:16 AM
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Report this Post09-14-2014 12:11 AM Click Here to See the Profile for LeviathanSend a Private Message to LeviathanEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I have an 88 GT and id love to start taking it to some Track Days. Id love to drop a small block into it, which means that id have be able to stop first (which equals a brake upgrade).

I am currently in the planning mode and would love to hear some of the communities thoughts and experiences with the front end of fieros. If any statement i make is incorrect, please correct me!

84-87 utilizes the a spindle design with rebuildable bearings while the 88s use an Cartridge assembly design but has better suspension geometry.
- Spindle design is inherently stronger, bearings are easy to replace and inexpensive.
- Cartridge design is weaker, doesnt last long when ran on tracks (read on forum), only Rodney manufactures new ones and are expensive to replace.
- Ive heard of 88 owners replacing the front end with 84-87 front ends for race applications because its stronger and easier to work with.

I would love to have a real spindle, but I hate working... If i dont have to, id rather not swap front ends from an 88 to an 87. Has anyone heard of any attempts to use the bolt pattern for the Wheel Bearing Assembly on the 88 knuckle to bolt on a spindle?? Kind of a bolt-on Spindle.

If you buy a big brake disk upgrade kit, you have to buy bigger wheels to fit them. If a Spindle adapter for the 88 knuckle could be made, it would not be limited to just an 84-87 Fiero spindle and wheel hub. Quick research shows that if you use a 2010 Ford Mustang spindle and wheel hub, you can get a bolt pattern of 5x114.3 for the wheels. This is slightly stronger than the original 5x100mm bolt pattern on the fiero and you get a lot more wheel choices. You can also get 12.5 inch rotors that come on the newer ford mustangs for a decent price.

I have not thought about the Rear Hub and achieving a 5x114.3 bolt pattern... probably would require some serious maching the the rear knuckles to hold a different bearing set or something... im not sure.

Of course a custom bracket will be required to hang the calipers in the correct place. Im also not sure what caliper i would want to be using as well or what fits the thickness of the 12.5 inch ford rotors. Thankfully, if a custom bracket for the calipers are being designed, you can use just about anything.

If i was to just get a big break upgrade from West Coast Fiero, i would be getting bigger rotors, bigger wheels, new tires, and a bracket to hang the caliper. If i was to build a bolt on spindle, id have to add a larger wheel hub and maybe a different set of calipers.

Is this a horrible road to go down? The way i see it, id be putting money upfront to be able to buy inexpensive and available parts to do repairs and maintenance in the future while still getting the performance that id like to have. The only part that seems to be in low supply for the 88 braking system is the wheel bearing cartridge. I think the biggest advantage is that if you took the car to Track Days or really raced them, you could change wheel bearings easily and inexpensively whenever you wanted.

Please note that i am in hypothetical mode when i say all this. Anything is possible with enough time and money, but that doesnt mean that it would be worth it. Im curious what others thoughts are on a system like this. Feedback please.
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Report this Post09-14-2014 01:17 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jsmorterClick Here to Email jsmorterSend a Private Message to jsmorterEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I went with fieroguru's 12 inch upgrade on my 88 and it makes a tremedous difference compared to stock. It uses 12 inch rotors and he does have a 13 inch kit also. This is a good improvement for little money. BTW the front bearings on an 88 are so bad I only have 290,000 miles on them.
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Report this Post09-14-2014 10:16 AM Click Here to See the Profile for fieroguruSend a Private Message to fieroguruEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Swapping the 84-87 front end into an 88 is just nuts... The people who liked/raced the 84-87 front/88 rear were running 84-87 Fieros and that is what they knew and were familar with. The 84-87 front suspension is poor at best... the only thing it has going for it its easily rebuild-able wheel bearings. Every other aspect is a step backwards.

Converting the stock 88 upright to a spindle is problematic from a packaging standpoint because the face of the hub is 1.4" from the upright. The spindle hub for the 84-87 is 3.5" deep. You can't push the wheel flange out w/o a widebody and you can't extend the hub portion either as it would stick out past the wheel. What makes the spindle setup stronger (bearings last longer) is the distance between the two races of the bearings, but that also makes it nearly impossible to adapt to the 88. To get a spindle style setup on the front of an 88, you will need to either swap uprights or have a custom one made.

You can "adapt" the rear wheel bearing to the front of an 88. That makes the bearing much cheaper and the rear bearing is stronger, the only downside is it shifts the wheels out .2" because the rear wheel bearings are 1.6" between the upright and hub face.

Another option that has been done is to machine the 88 front wheel bearing housing to accept the bearing guts from a 79-85 rear wheel bearing from the FWD caddys. This hybrid bearing would then be rebuild-able and also has the 5 x 4 3/4 pattern. This has been done once and documented, but finding the "right" hubs to use for the conversion (need to be rebuild-able) has proven hard for others to replicate.

Others have discussed the options of converting the 88 upright to accept other bearings, but so far nothing but discussions have come up.

You can also spend $550 and get a set of dropped uprights that use the rear wheel bearing... then it becomes a bolt on affair and you can level out the ride height of the car... this is probably the best option right now, but their quality control hasn't been the greatest of late.

If you want larger wheels and plan to track your car, then its all about optimizing the size and weight of the tire/wheel package. Steven Snyder tracks his car quite a bit and runs 17x7 48et and 18x9 45 ET under a stock 88 coupe body. The wheels he uses are available in 5x100mm and cost about $150-$170 each and are decently light. He runs 215/45/17 and 275/35/18 tires. His rear wheel is the widest you can run at the smallest diameter and fit it under a stock body w/o other suspension mods to make more room. Specs on his car are here:

So unless you want to run 19's or larger, changing the bolt pattern to get cheap wheels for true performance needs is no longer required.

As you look at brake upgrade options. There are several things to keep in mind.
If you want to maximize track performance, you want to keep weight (both unsprung and rotating) at a minimum. The C4 12" rotor is the absolute best bang for the $$$. You get an additional 1 1/2" in diameter for improved mechanical advantage and heat dissipation for about 3lbs of rotor weight per corner. It also retains the complete 88 brake brake system hydraulics so bias remains stock, parking brake works, and you don't have any other parts to have to buy to match the master cylinder/combo valve/calipers as GM did that for you!

As you look at other brake kits using different rotors, check the weight vs. stock 88 and the rotor width. Most rotors in the 12 3/4 to 13" are will add 7 to 10+lbs or more lbs per corner to the weight and if the rotor width isn't 20mm or less, you will have to buy all 4 calipers, likely a master cylinder, and depending on calipers you might not ever be able to dial in the brake bias. My 13" brake kit adds 6-7 lbs/corner, but retains all the stock 88 hydraulics, brake bias and parking brake function.

Getting back to brake bias... If you run staggered width tires (narrower in front) and/or taller rear wheels (to maximize width), you will need MORE rear brake bias. Part of this is because the rear tires are wider, part of this is the mechanical advantage of the rear is also less due to the taller diameter of the tire. If you don't add more rear bias, you will tend to overheat the front brakes as they will be working much harder than they would if the rears were doing all they could. Aaron88 used to sell a custom bolt in rear brake bias adjustment for the combo valve that truly increases rear brake bias and it works quite well.

Fieros are rather unique in that GM designed their calipers to be the same size front/rear and used the combination valve to adjust bias. Most cars use the piston diameters to make course bias adjustments and then fine tune it with the combination valve. These cars with different size calipers almost always have calipers with smaller piston bores in the rear which = less braking. Most off the shelf brake bias adjusters work to reduce rear braking... so use a rear caliper with a smaller bore than the front and you will not be able to restore the rear bias back to stock, or even raise it like needed for true track duty. Be careful mixing/matching brake system components as you can easily end up with a kit that doesn't perform as well as the other properly designed brake kits.

For the 88's there are 12" and 13" brake kits available from several vendors that are quite economical ($450+ - depending on kit and vendor) that offer significant braking/heat dissipation gains, while keeping the stock 88 Fiero hydraulic system, brake bias and parking brake function.

Products: 88 13" Brake Kit, 88 12" Brake Kit, 88 Lateral Link Relocation, 84-87 Machined Front Hubs, Custom Machining
Engine Swaps:
LS4/F40, HSR/SBC/F23, Pro-Flo/383/Getrag, 4.3CPI/4T60, Ramjet SBC/Getrag, 4.9/Isuzu, Carb SBC/Isuzu, 4.5/Isuzu

[This message has been edited by fieroguru (edited 09-14-2014).]

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