Wilwood calipers offer more rigid design, better brake pad distribution

After swapping a Chevelle’s factory front discs with aftermarket spindles and 12-inch rotors derived from an early ’90s Camaro with the 1LE option, we benefitted from improved handling and shortened stopping distances. But we felt we were still leaving something on the table, and not taking full advantage of the increased rotor diameter.

The aftermarket spindles retained the Chevelle’s original cast-iron D52 brake calipers, which are adequate in most situations and have been deployed in countless GM applications since 1969. To their credit, they are rock-solid reliable, and in the unlikely event of failure, are an inexpensive, easy-to-replace, parts-store item. But optimum performance has never been the goal of any OEM design, especially when the bean counters get involved. Our goal now was to further improve the Chevelle’s brake performance.

A bit of online research turned up Wilwood’s two-piston, billet aluminum, bolt-on D52 replacements. There are several benefits to consider with the Wilwoods, not the least of which is more evenly distributed brake pad clamping for improved stopping power. They are compatible with original rotors and brake pads, offer a more rigid design to reduce caliper flex, are significantly lighter (reducing unsprung weight), and will clear most 15-inch wheels — and even 14-inchers in some cases. Generally, if the wheels fit the OE D52 caliper, they will clear the Wilwoods, too

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