With the gentrification of old cars that began in the 1980s and continues today, many vehicles that were considered junk before are now—because of their affordability—are seeing the performance spotlight. So, while one might expect a 1970 ’Cuda to be a good candidate for a disc brake upgrade, it might not be so obvious for a more utilitarian car like a same-year, Slant Six Duster.
01 Baer’s Pro+ 6P kit, shown installed on the front of Christian Arriero’s 1974 Plymouth Duster.
Does your Mopar need a complete four-wheel disc brake conversion? That depends. For those who prize originality or rarity, an expensive disc brake conversion or upgrade package may have the effect of lowering the value of a car. That said, restoring a vintage brake system to acceptable operation with all NOS parts may not be easy, cheap, or fun. And even if you don’t mind the hassle of restoring vintage brakes, it’s likely you will not enjoy their performance. This route is clearly for the prized classic that isseldom driven, and even then, don’t expect it to stop as quickly as the beater Toyota in your driveway.
Just up the ladder from stock brakes are more modestly priced disc brake conversions with calipers having one or two pistons. Besides doing a better job stopping than drums, discs effectively even out the imbalance between the left and right sides. People who swap from drums to discs almost unanimously report straighter braking performance, a big confidence booster.
While there are many companies that offer entry-level disc brake conversions, often kitted together from proven OE parts, a much smaller cadre of companies offer what can be described as maximum-effort street systems and pro-level race setups. Costing thousands of dollars, they represent a big investment in any ride, and in occupant safety. Baer Racing has been building these kinds of brake kits for 30 years and has amassed a reputation for offering disc brake upgrade systems for many makes, many years, and many purposes.
Smack-dab in the middle of Baer’s range of systems is the company’s 6P lineup. Designed to take what the most potent street cars can dish out, the Pro+ 6P offers either 13- or 14-inch two-piece slotted and drilled rotors with the company’s proprietary six-piston, two-piece calipers. It’s essentially the less expensive little brother to Baer’s Extreme 6S system, but with slightly smaller, more widely available Corvette C5-based pads. For the active enthusiast who brings his machine to compete in autocross or open track days, the 6P system is ideally positioned to provide an excellent balance of cost and performance. This is the reason the 6P system was selected by MotorTrend’s Tech Center technician Christian Arriero for his 1974 Plymouth Duster.
In the case of Chris’ 1974 Duster, power has increased by a factor of four, going from a stock Slant Six to a built Magnum 360 making nearly 500 hp. Throw in much larger tires with some real ability to grip the road, and those production brake linings, rotors, and rear drums would’ve gone up in flames after a single autocross lap—forget about lapping a truly fast local track like Willow Springs. With the addition of Baer’s complete 6P system for the Mopar A-Body (or in our case, a Mustang II-type spindle on a Mopar A-Body), concerns about overheated brakes, missed apexes, and unplanned off-road excursions won’t be an issue. One thing is for sure: If Chris does have a mishap at the autocross or road course, it won’t be because his brakes weren’t up to snuff!
Baer; 602.233.1411; baer.com
Weld Wheels; 800.788.9353; weldwheels.com
At a Glance: 1974 Plymouth Duster Brake System
• Baer Remaster master cylinder (part No. 6801298RP, $395)—Direct-fit replacement for the stock Mopar master cylinder, available in 15 ⁄16-, 1-, and 1 1 ⁄8-inch bore diameters. Chris’ car has a 15 ⁄16-inch-diameter unit for unassisted manual brakes.
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