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1965 Chevy Malibu SS Chevelle disc conversion kit issue

Clark Eaton

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Have a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS Chevelle with drum brakes.  I'm not willing the change the 14 inch rims out and they aren't rally rims either.  So I was wondering is it possible to change to disc brakes in the front?  The last kit I had rubbed up against the rims with the calipers no clearance room.

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I don't know of any kits that will clear the 14" wheels and give any real improvement in braking, which is the driver behind changing to disc brakes. Anything that fits is going to be inadequate for the weight of a 60s GM A-body and odds are will be 4-lug.


Get a good understanding of your drum brake system, use quality parts, and adjust them properly. There are still people who can arc brake shoes for 100% contact between lining and drum, which will make a real difference in drum brake performance.


I'm not crazy about modern brake lining materials either, but sometimes you have to play the cards you're dealt. They might last a little longer and not heat up and fade as badly, but modern harder linings just don't give the same braking feel as asbestos linings.

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IMO and many others, if you have the original brakes set up to the original factory specifications they are more than adequate for braking in any situation.  Unless you are racing the car and concerned about brake fade the original brakes will stop the car fine. 


Added feature of having the original brakes is knowing that the car does not have a newer brake set up you will not want to "over drive" the car and you will have the ability to drive and enjoy the car as it was built.


Just a thought.

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Nearly every 1967-1972 GM A-body that came from the factory with disc brakes also had 14" wheels. The problem isn't the diameter, it's the fact that in the 1960s GM made two styles of 14" wheels, those that cleared disc brakes and those that only fit drum brakes. In the photo below are two 14" GM wheels, disc-brake on the left and drum-only on the right. Outboard is to the left for both. Note the difference in the shape of the dropped section of the rim (yellow vs. green arrow), which allows much more clearance for the caliper on the disc-brake wheels. There are companies that sell disc brake kits that claim to clear these drum brake wheels, To do that they use a Vega-sized 10" rotor (stock in these cars was 11") and a smaller caliper. The result is that you spend a ton of money for disc brakes that provide no more stopping power than did the drum brakes. If your issue is retaining original 14" hubcaps and tires, get the 14" disc brake wheels.




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