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Help! What brake options are available for S30 Z cars?

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Since we have so many newbies asking so many questions, I wrote up this faq with links and pics (most from my own conversions) for hybridz. Please feel free to correct any info and add your own.


jmortensen's FAQ is also listed in the FAQ section of the forum here


Mods, please STICKY this:


Front Brake upgrade options:


Toyota 4 piston bolt on conversion


Description: direct swap, only modifications needed are to trim the dust plate and bend brake lines. MSA offers this as an overpriced kit here



trimmed backing plate


Parts needed:


-a pair of calipers from a 79-84 toyota 4x4 pickup with S12 stamping on the side. Napa carries these rebuilt units for about $50-60/each.


-good pads. EBC, Hawk, or Porterfields


-recommended, but not required: a 15/16 master cylinder, SS brake lines, and new rotors



Toyota 4 piston vented swap


Description: wider toyota 4x4 calipers using 300zx vented rotors. You can buy the whole setup from Ross C. at http://www.modern-motorsports.com, or at Motorsport Auto. Both offer the exact same thing (spacer, calipers, bolts, rotors. MSA offers crossdrilled rotors in their more expensive package








comparison of new vented rotor set caliper vs. stock caliper on the right


Parts needed:


-pair of '86-95 Toyota 4x4 or 86-91 4runner calipers stamped S12/W on the side


'86 toyota 4x4 pickup




94 toyota 4x4 pickup




this is the caliper shown for the 89 4runner v6:




-new pads


-pair of '84 300zx non-turbo front rotors (4 lug, http://www.buyautoparts.com has them for under 50/ea)


-machined spacer to correctly move the hub from the rotor for wheel clearance and matching bolts (see pic above). You can buy these spacers separately from Ross at Modern Motorsports following the link specified above.


-15/16 master cylinder from a '79 280zx (it will have 15/16 stamped on it) and SS brake lines. Also get some ready make hard brake lines in 3/16mm pitch at 6" long.


Pictured above is my brake swap, and you will need to make sure that your wheels will clear the swap. I had 15" Snowflake 280zx wheels, and they would not clear the caliper because of the width.


13" Cobra kit


description: Ford Cobra 13" brake setup adapted to an S30 chassis. Requires 17" wheels for clearance. Kit sold at Modern Motorsports



Arizona Z car kit


Description: Arizona Z car makes a complete conversion kit using Wilwood 4 piston calipers and curved vane rotors. Recommended racing use only. This kit features 4 to 5 lug conversion, new aluminum front hubs with bearings. There are also optional 13" brake kits with SIX piston calipers. Their products are listed here: www.arizonazcar.com



Rear brakes:


Maxima bracket/280zx caliper swap


Description: Using '85-'88 maxima rear caliper brackets, 280zx rear calipers and rotors to convert rear to disk. Source of parts would be mainly junkyard, and you would have to either remove the stub axle (don't do it unless you absolutely have to) or cut out the drum backing plates to install. The downside is sourcing your own caliper brackets at the JY, and then REMOVING them. You will likely need cordless power tools to do so.


Motorsport auto sells their bracket swap kit, which is CNC'd maxima brackets here. It is $320, and does not include rotors, pads, and calipers. You have to source your own.



MM bracket/240SX caliper swap


Description: Using '90-94 Nissan 240sx (S13) rear calipers, '84 300zx non-turbo rear rotors, and Modern Motorsports rear bracket to convert rear drums to disks. You can make your own adapters for the brake lines, or buy a set from MM here





MSA rear disk conversion


Description: Motor Sport Auto offers this *cough* moderately *cough* priced conversion that includes rotors, 280zx calipers, and all necessary hardware to convert rear to disk.


Sean73's maxima bracket and caliper conversion


Other rear disk swaps:


Modern Motorsports 13" rear disk conversion


Arizonazcar.com 4 piston rear disk swap

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And a new option for the front.   R32GTST front rotors (280mmx26mm), centre hole machined out to match the 260Z/280Z hub, diameter reduced to by ~ 5mm with Hilux S13W calipers. The caliper

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...Parts needed:


-pair of '86-89 Toyota 4x4 or 4runner calipers stamped S12W on the side...


You can also use a version of the S12+8 calipers for the vented rotor conversion.


Let me explain. There are two different Toyota 4x4 calipers with the casting mark "S12+8". One for a solid rotor and one for a vented (wider) rotor. The 1979-85 4x4 calipers are for use with a solid rotor but the 1986-88 4x4 calipers are also marked "S12+8" but they are designed to fit the wider' date=' vented rotor.






If you examine and compare the two different S12+8 calipers you will see that they are the same casting, (actually they are a pair of castings, one for each side of the caliper) except one is machined more that the other to be used on the solid (thinner) rotor.


There are advantages of using the S12+8 caliper (for the vented rotor) over the S12W caliper: It is lighter in weight; The S12+8 caliper body is not as wide as the S12W caliper, so clearance to the wheel is increased; The S12+8 caliper has two 43.0mm diameter pistons and two 33.8mm diameter pistons whereas the S12W has four 43.0mm diameter pistons. This increase in piston area requires a larger (1") diameter master cylinder when using the S12W calipers.


The belief that only the calipers with a “W” will fit a vented rotor is a myth.


If you want to use the S12W calipers then some additional application information is the 1989-1995 Toyota 4 Wheel Drive Pickup Truck.

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I just installed the version for solid rotors on my Z as well as some slotted/crossdrilled rotors. since my 14 in. wheels don't fit now I would like to know exactly what the largest diameter is for the calipers...I measured from the center to the outside edge of the caliper and I came up with 6 7/16ths is that correct? thanks...

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I think this post is clear proof that people aren't looking in the FAQ section. Maybe it would be a good idea for the FAQ's to also be stickies in the appropriate forum.



wow thanks guys. this helped me out alot, even more than the faq cause of the pictures. i have a good idea what im gunna do in terms of brakes now.

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great post! now im not clueless about brake upgrades. one question i still have is for the vented 4x4 setup, the spacer just gots between the rotor and the wheel to allow clearance for the caliper right? where do i get them and will my 15" enkei rims (kinda like the mesh one, i dunno what the model name is called) fit them or do i need bigger 16" wheels? thnx


edit: the spacer is not needed for the 4x4 NON vented upgrade right? thnx

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no, the spacer goes between the hub and the rotor. Look at the pics of my setup at the top, and you can see the spacer in place


right, spacer isn't needed for non-vented setup. you need to spacer for the vented swap to move the hub out far enough so that wheels and the hub itself can clear the caliper.

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matter of perspective :) but you're correct now that i visualize it in my head, the 300zx rotor doesn't step out as much, so the spacer keeps the hub properly spaced while moving the rotor inboard..


however, depends on perspective :) if new rotor is hte point of reference, he spacer moves the hub out to retain correct spacing for the spindle/bearings :D

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