In recent years, the amount of effort and expense required to put serious horsepower under your right foot has eased substantially, and retrofitting older vehicles with modern levels of grunt is well-supported and reasonably affordable. For decades, getting 350 or 400 horsepower out of a smog-legal powerplant was a real accomplishment. The thing is, when you’re starting with a car that made 225 horsepower from the factory, you’re working with a component package that’s balanced around that level of performance, and that includes the braking system.
While the democratization of horsepower is indeed a fantastic recent development, big power isn’t worth a whole lot if you don’t have confidence in brakes to actually stop the car reliably, and at a similar level of competence to the rest of the car’s performance attributes.
When this ’92 LX rolled off the assembly line, it was packing 225 horsepower. While the factory braking system provides adequate stopping power for a stock example of this vintage, this particular coupe’s 5.0 was upgraded significantly, and the addition of a Vortech supercharger into the mix means that it’s capable of reaching high speeds in significantly less distance than it could from the factory, and that in turn means a lot more work for the braking system. In order to maintain balanced capability, the brakes need to be every bit as capable at their task as any other performance component.
With that in mind, we’re giving this ’92 Mustang LX coupe a braking system makeover by way of Baer Brakes kits for the front and rear to give it the stopping power it needs to keep up with the pace that its powerful 5.0-liter can maintain.
While getting the car slowed down after a jaunt down the quarter mile is obviously important, the rise in interest in autocross competitions, high-performance driving events, and open-track days over the past few years puts older braking systems in situations they simply weren’t designed to handle. Let’s face it, the last thing you want to experience while going 10/10ths out on a road course is a brake pedal that drops to the floor when you’re setting up for a slow corner.
Stopping A Fox
While many enthusiasts think of Baer for late-model Mustangs with the focus on the SN-95 and newer platforms, transforming the braking system of Fox Mustangs like this 1992 Mustang LX coupe is an upgrade that Baer continues to wholeheartedly support.
Both the Track4 and SS4 kits (designed for the front and rear brake systems, respectively) utilize aluminum calipers which clamp down on slotted and cross-drilled rotors and feed the brake fluid through stainless steel brake hoses. This ensures that not only will the car stop in shorter distances, but it will remain resistant to brake fade and other heat-related issues lap after lap, making this a truly track-capable setup. The ReMaster brake master cylinder and proportioning valve uses a compact design to make fitment in tight engine bays less of a hassle while providing consistent pressure for good pedal feel.
At the front end we’re swapping out the factory brake system in favor of Baer’s Track4 brake system, which features four-piston calipers that clamp down on one-piece, slotted, cross-drilled, and zinc-plated rotors. Designed to work with wheels that are 17 inches or larger and 1994-2004 SN-95 spindles, the kit includes stainless steel brake hoses as well as calipers that have D.O.T.- compliant dust and weather seals, plus the caliper color is completely customizable to suit the builder’s requirements.
Our wheel and hub combination required an upgrade to SN-95 spindles to make it all work. The 1994-2004 Mustangs use a sealed bearing hub design whereas the Fox uses a traditional hub, and the longer hub snout length can cause issues with the SN-95 wheel fitment. The rest of the front brake swap is a pretty straightforward proposition, simply remove the stock parts and bolt on the Baer gear in their place.
Compared to stock Fox parts, this is a drastic improvement that gives the driver consistent, repeatable performance. — Rick Elam, Baer Brakes
“A brake is a heatsink, so the better we can dissipate heat, the better and more accurate the brake will be,” Rick Elam, of Baer Brakes, explained. “The Track4 uses a four-piston aluminum caliper, mounted to a 13-inch rotor that is cast directional. The larger diameter rotor has more torque and leverage, and the directional design acts like a centrifugal pump when spinning to cool the rotor down. Compared to stock Fox parts, this is a drastic improvement that gives the driver consistent, repeatable performance.”
Baer offers a number of solutions for Fox Mustang owners looking to step up to serious braking power, so picking up the phone to have a quick chat with the company’s techs is a good idea in order to ensure you get the right hardware for your particular needs.
Selecting Big Brakes
Brake Bleeding Tips
• Find a helper to man bleeder or pump pedal
• Fill master cylinder with proper fluid
• Attach clear bleed line to brake bleeder
• Slowly pump brake pedal until fluid exits hose
• Close bleeder
• Push pedal down once until there is resistance and hold pedal there
• Re-open the bleeder
• Press pedal to the floor
• Close bleeder
“Baer offers a complete variety of Fox brakes, including the Fox spindle four-lug, Fox spindle five-lug, SN-95 (popular Fox-spindle swap), rear 8.8 Fox standoff 2.5-inch (four- and five-lug), 8.8 2.75-inch standoff (SN-95), as well as Saleen, SVO, and Lincoln part swaps,” Rick explained.
“For these cars the upgrade really just follows the wheel setup being used – many customers are using later model SN-95 wheels for an inexpensive five-lug swap,” he added. “In those cases we recommend SN-95 spindles. The SN-95 uses a sealed-bearing hub design, whereas the Fox uses a traditional hub (so hub snout length is longer) and can cause issues with the SN-95 wheel fitment.”
Like the front, the rear is a pretty simple remove and replace job. Our Fox already had rear discs, which expedited the swap a bit. If your Fox still has stock drum brakes there will be a bit more to remove. Just take your time and follow the Baer instructions. The SS4 rear brake system offers a substantial improvement in braking capability in terms of both stopping power and cooling, as well as a more modern parking brake design.
Here the discrepancy between the factory system and the one replacing it can be even greater… — Rick Elam, Baer Brakes
At the rear of the car we’re swapping out the stock braking components for Baer’s 12-inch SS4 kit. Like the Track4 system, the SS4 kit consists of four-piston calipers that are paired with one-piece, slotted, cross-drilled and zinc-plated rotors. Along with stainless steel brake hoses and D.O.T compliant dust and weather seals for the calipers, the SS4 kit includes a unique billet backing plate that not only acts as a caliper mount, but also houses the one-piece, parking shoe, which provides a more modern and better-performing parking brake assembly than the drum-in-hat system.
While DOT 3 and DOT 4 fluids are fine, Baer does not recommend DOT 5 with its brake systems. As far as brake pads go, Baer’s Rick Elam says there's no one pad that's ideal for both street and track use, and that the best solution is to simply have a set of track-dedicated pads at the ready for serious road course work. For street performance and autocross use, Baer likes Ferodo DS2500 pads and for track work the company prefers the Raybestos ST-43.
“The benefits of the SS4 kit are similar to that of the Track4 system in that the larger swept area, greater braking force, and vastly improved cooling provide huge benefits over the stock system,” Rick said. “Here the discrepancy between the factory system and the one replacing it can be even greater because the original setup in the rear may use drum brakes.”
Master Of Your Domain
Baer T4 Caliper Features
• Four-piston, radial-mount caliper
• Two-piece, forged caliper design w/ six cross bolts for added strength
• Internal crossover design
• Stainless steel pistons, abutments and noise suppression springs
• Staggered piston sizes to minimize pad wear
• Dual seals (dust/weather and pressure) to meet D.O.T. specifications
• Machined logo that is hand painted
• Red, Black or Silver Powder Coat Finish (custom colors available)
• Uses the 1998-2002 Camaro pad (FMSI #D749)
• Uses correct banjo style fittings, Baer does not use any pipe thread
Whether this brake swap is a job one can take on at home or something that should be left to the professionals comes down to experience level, but Baer can take a lot of potential headaches out of the installation process before the kits ship out.
“If the system is ordered on a Fox spindle, we completely pre-assemble the brake system on the spindle so this makes the install really easy,” Rick explained. “The complete corner is shipped ready to install (no caliper shimming, no packing bearings, assembling rotors, etc.).”
Along with the braking improvements, the Baer calipers and discs look great on the car and fill out the area behind those wheels properly, adding a measure of form to go along with the function.
Once you have your new brakes installed and bled, you’ll need to set up the adjustable proportioning valve. Ideally you want the front brakes to lock up just before the rears do. So, find an empty stretch of pavement. With a half tank of gas in your car, do a few hard stops from 40-50 mph and have someone watch the car. Dial in the prop valve until the fronts lock first and you are good to go.
Baer supplies high-friction, low-dust brake pads with its kits, which are suitable for a performance-minded daily driver. If you’re going to do some serious track work on a fast circuit, you might consider stepping up to a dedicated set for the job, like the Raybestos ST-43 or a similar race-specific pad. In terms of brake fluid, Rick says that while DOT 3 and 4 are fine, Baer does not recommend DOT 5.
Ready to transform your Fox Mustang’s braking capability for faster laps, enhanced safety, and more confidence between the wheel? Give the folks at Baer Brakes a call and see how you can seriously improve your stopping game.