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AJ’s ’81 Trans am Wilwood brake upgrade

Hi everyone! Classic car owners go to great lengths on their vehicles and spend a great deal of money to make their precious rides look great! Keeps the economy alive and well for sure, Plus when at the car shows, we get the almighty rewarding words we love to hear, “Nice car!”


Not long ago, a friend of mine, A.J. from the Nifty50ees had purchased front and rear Wilwood Calipers for his beautiful ’81 Transam. I offered to install this system for him since I’m setup here to work on just about anything, he took me up on the offer 😉  So, on April 4, 2014, he came over early and we got started!

Example of what Wilwood brakes he has: http://www.ebay.com/itm/WILWOOD-D52-BRAKE-CALIPER-PAD-SET-W-PINS-FRONT-1-04-RED-BIG-GM-CALIPERS-PADS-/270834449639?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item3f0efdbce7&vxp=mtr



I met A.J. a few years back at the Nifty50ee’s here in Houston and have been car buddies ever since!;)

nice shot



Let me introduce A.J.!;)  Actually he smiles a lot and is quite silly, but my kind of silly!;)




A.J. and his fabulous ’54 Ford~ smiling this time;)




And his beautiful BBC engine in the Trans-am of course!






Let’s get started!!

I thought sure this was going to be a morning swap out, but of course there were a few obstacles along the way!  The left front brake line from the master cylinder to the caliper was seeping and the flare nut in a difficult place to get at was rounded off (Thanks Vise grips, I didn’t do it!) I just happened to have some steel brake line, so I was able to replace that line, but it did eat up some time:(, but it was fixed;)

Here my Maxjax is saving the day making life much easier once again! A.J.’s Trans looks great doesn’t it!;)

TRans on maxjax




First off was swap out the original front disc brakes, they’re generally much easier than the rear. I love the looks of the drilled/slotted rotors!

new slotted rotor



The red Wilwood calipers and gorgeous rotors are going to peak through his Cragar mags, awesome!  I didn’t mention, but the rubber brake lines were replaced with steel braided brake lines with all new hardware.

new wilwood caliper



See! Nice!! What it’s all about!

new caliper



On to the Rear brakes:

First off, the slotted rotors unfortunately did not work with the new calipers, they were too thick and the new calipers would not fit over the new rotors, so we re-used the original rotors.

A before pic of the rear.

rear stock brakes


Another problem to solve was the brake lines adapting to the new calipers. The new hardware didn’t work, but we were able to reuse the brass and banjo bolt off of the original calipers.

rear caliper


Unfortunately, there is no provision for reusing the parking brake. A.J. was OK with this and we just eliminated the parking brake and removed the hardware vs just tying it up out of the way.

rear caliper3


Another problem to resolve was the new calipers didn’t line up with the rotor!  We had to remove the caliper mounting hardware and space it out by means of 2 washers per bolt. Worked great! Another problem resolved! Thank goodness for reasoning and common sense powers!! 😉rear caliper4


The rear calipers are basically universal, meaning they fit left or right. Note the positions of the bleeder valves.



Overall, it took most of the day to complete, about 6 hours. Some of the time was spent talking to tech about some issues, but A.J. and I figured it out things along the way, tech was nice however.


As for the stopping power? A.J. said he’d never had such good brakes! That’s all I needed to hear! My friend was happy, and that makes me happy!;)


This blog wasn’t so much of How to install these Wilwood calipers, it’s more of a friend helping a friend, and where Old cars bring good people together! Everyone should own one or two! The world would be a better place thanks to our classics!;)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and hope you will subscribe to my Classic Cars and Tools! dne’;)



2 Responses so far.

  1. A.J. says:

    Wonderful Job. I love it. Thank you