Last season in my chase of the podium at Pikes Peak International Raceway Time Attack Series I had the opportunity to drive and ride along in a lot of very capable cars. Some were professionally built, others were stock cars with very basic upgrades but had outclassed my VT in many ways. One of the biggest opportunities I saw for my VT is upgrading the OEM braking system which consists of a ONE PISTON caliper, rubber brake fluid lines, heavy one piece rotors and just a quiet street pad.
If you’ve done any track, or spirited canyon driving (especially in a steep downhill grade) you have noticed some serious brake fade, or chatter. It can get very hairy. So, let’s say you’ve gone with one of the few upgrade options from another vendor and upgraded to braided steel lines, slotted and cross drilled rotors and possibly an aggressive race pad or serious race brake fluid and you are still feeling like something is missing. Maybe you’ve increased the power of your car and are finding it is over heating or cooking your brakes, you’re chewing through rotors or having a hard time braking later into a corner. A poor braking system can severely effect your lap times and overall road/street safety.
KDM Tuners is always looking for ways to improve and support the 1.6T Gamma platform and in that search, after three years of street and track testing, they found that the CTS-V Brembo retrofit kit is the affordable and more than capable solution to your track and street needs.
The kit is simple and can be customized to suit your needs, it comes with everything you need to swap the calipers, including required 3mm spacers, brackets, steel braided lines, fluid of your choice, pads of your choice, and one or two piece rotors. The tested kit came with DBA 2 Piece Rotors and Hawk HP+ Pads, I already had steel braided lines. Hawk pads are known pretty well around the road and autocross racing circuit, researching their product line is important to know which pads are perfect for your application, they also offer Porterfield Pads which is another premium brand. I wouldn’t recommend either of their race pads for street use, the Hawks are incredibly loud and squeak in low speed application, while the Porterfield are extremely dusty on high way speed braking.
I have driven a number of SCCA prepped FWD cars and I noticed that the initial bite of the brakes was much harder and more violent than my brakes, even though I had Porterfield race pads. I just couldn’t get the car to lurch forward allowing weight to transfer to the front wheels gaining more grip on turn in of a tight corner. The first thing you notice after install of the Brembos (because, let’s be honest that’s what these beauties are) is that hard, violent, initial bite the car was missing all along, they have 3 extra pistons totaling 4-each, about the size of the one piston in the OEM caliper.
You can imagine the grabbing force inflicted on the rotor, which is why I chose the two-piece Disc Brakes Australia rotor. Two-piece rotors dissipate heat better, the aluminum hat acts like a heat sink, and the larger size of the rotor allows for even more heat to be shed through vanes between the surfaces. Not to mention they look great! Another thing you will notice is pedal travel seems a little longer than usual, but you need less travel to slow the car down at regular surface road speeds. I would say carefully increase pressure on the pedal as they are much more sensitive than before.
Another important note is fitment, these brakes require an 18 inch wheel for safe clearance. They include a clearance diagram so that you can make the correct choice in wheels to allow for proper fitment. This kit was tested on a 18×9 +45 wheel which required a 3mm spacer to not foul on the back of the spoke of the wheel. I love these brakes, they look great behind a nice set wheels and are more than enough braking power for the weight of the VT, or any of the Gamma platform that these can fit.
I really look forward to the track test that I plan on putting these through, keep a look out for that in the next few weeks as race season ramps up in the Rocky Mountains!