Early SN95 Mustangs of the V6 and GT varieties came with single-piston calipers from the factory. Fortunately, upgrading to the Cobra-spec PBR dual piston calipers is more or less a bolt-on affair.

Last year, in anticipation of upgrading the front brakes, I converted the rears to the Cobra setup. It wasn’t much of an upgrade, especially since the calipers and pads remain the same. But the Cobra rears allow for better cooling, thanks to larger rotors, which are also vented (V6/GT ones are solid). This also gave me an opportunity to go through the whole axle and overhaul it since the axle-shafts had to be pulled to complete the swap.

As for the front, there are many options out there. You can go all-out and get the big guns, like the Cobra R’s Brembos or one of the aftermarket kits (Wilwood, Baer, etc.), but I decided that the regular Cobra setup would be plenty for my daily-driven ’95 GT.

I went to the local parts store to round up all the individual parts, gathering Cobra brake hoses, calipers+brackets, pads (Akebono), and rotors. To my delight, the total cost was around $400, less than any of the big brake kits at online Mustang parts retailers.

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Once I had the parts home, I was tempted to put them on the car right away, but resisted the urge so that I could apply high-temperature paint to the calipers and brackets. The brackets, as you can see in the picture, were different colors right out of the box anyway, so I covered them both up with black high-temp spray paint. For the calipers, I used Rust-Oleum’s red caliper paint kit.

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I’m kinda glad that I ended up with the plain ones, instead of ones with “COBRA” or the running horse logo. It’s nice to keep badging to a minimum.

After patiently waiting for the paint to dry (7 day cure time recommended), I got to work disassembling the old brakes.

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The last time I did brakes on this car, I was in a bit of a hurry and just used stock parts instead of putting the money towards what I really wanted. After that, I vowed that the next penny I spent on brakes would be for the upgrade. I must have done something right, because the GT brakes have been holding up great, and even after 4 years, they are nowhere near needing replacement.

Spurring this upgrade is a vibration under braking, which could probably be fixed by simply resurfacing the rotors. But I made myself a promise, and I’m sticking to it. This upgrade has been on my mind for a while, and I’m not spending any more cash on stock brakes. So here goes.

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I knew that this was going to be an easy swap, thanks in no small part to the previous owner’s decision to fit the car with 17" S197 wheels. But as I poked around, I decided that I didn’t like the look of some of the steel brake lines (even though they probably would have held up for another couple years of Michigan roads), and immediately got to work replacing them with NiCopp. After unbolting the lines, I weaseled them out intact to make sure that I would be able to maneuver the new ones into place in one piece.

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Not perfect, but close enough.

I unrolled some fresh tubing, taped it to the old line, and started bending, using the old line as a template. The closer you follow the old shape, the better chance you have of re-using the old retainer clips.

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Fortunately, I was able to re-use the old nuts after a little cleaning, and managed to remember to slide them on before flaring the tubing.

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I maneuvered the new lines in place and tightened them down. Not to the old brake hoses, but to the new ones. Now I could have gone with braided steel here, but I really don’t like how hard it is to inspect them. Rubber hoses are much easier to keep an eye on for developing cracks.

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Lots of life left in these. I count about 6-7mm of friction material on all pads, and about 26mm of rotor thickness, with hardly any lip on the outer edge. Not bad for 4 years of use.

I unbolted the old calipers fully loaded with their brackets, hoses, and pads. The old rotors came off too. Everything looks like it has LOTS of life left in it, so I have it all set aside just in case somebody wants them. (I even verified that the bleeders do in fact open without snapping off.)

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Double the pistons, and a little more pad surface area. Lighter, too!
13" vs 10.8"

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Before mounting the caliper bracket, I chased and cleaned the caliper bolts so that they would thread nicely into the new brackets with no fuss. But before clipping the pads into the calipers, I had to figure out which way they go, since all 4 pads are different. Of course, I didn’t have old parts to refer to for proper orientation, so I consulted the manual, paying close attention to the tabs on the pads:

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With that sorted, I could continue assembly. Almost there...

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Before & after:

The dust shield is still back there, hiding.

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After applying some grease and installing the pins, I torqued all parts to spec. Then it was just a matter of bleeding the air out of the lines, and putting the wheels back on. Ready to roll! Here’s one more pic that makes me wish that I had taken a “before” pic with the wheel on:

I’m not going to be able to fit the head of my wash-brush between the wheel and the rotor anymore. Boo-hoo.

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Another thing I like about these PBRs is that I won’t have to special-order any fancy pads. I can walk into any parts store and ask for Cobra parts. All that’s left now is to break them in, and the local pedestrians can breathe a little easier.