I recently decided that I hated the stock brakes on my 1989 Dodge Ram 50. In the 4 + years that I have owned the truck, they have never been quite right. Rather than putting time, effort, and money into the stock brakes, I decided to do a little bit of an upgrade. A good friend of mine gave me four super low mileage calipers and rotors from a early 2000′s Dodge Viper, so I really had no choice with what to do with them. One way or another, I was going to get them onto my truck.
I began the swap by purchasing a 2008 Dodge Viper master cylinder and designed a way to mate it to my truck’s brake booster. Then I had my brother in law build the adapter with his absolutely amazing machining skills. While he was working hard, I provided the moral support, entertaining banter, a delicious meal, and beverages. After a few hours and some serious mathematics, the adapter was complete.
I then started working on the front brake setup, and it was not looking good. The front Viper rotors were going to hit the tie rod ends. There was no way that the Viper rotors were going to work. So, the research ensued. I measured the night away and decided what the perfect size rotor would be. It turns out that 14″ Cadillac CTS-V rotors were what I need. Overkill much? A short time passed and I was the proud owner of cross drilled and slotted CTS-V rotors. They were massive, so massive that I began questioning my own sanity. Ah well, too late. I began fitting them on the truck and all was looking well. I just needed to bore out the center of the rotor and redrill the mounting holes. Back up to my brother in laws I went…. Food, drink, entertaining banter, and machining happened. Viola! The rotors were now a bolt on affair.
Next up was caliper brackets. There were a bit on the tricky side to make, luckily I was good in geometry class, and I had a brother in law that wasn’t sick of me yet. You know how it goes, food, banter, drink, caliper brackets = done.
The rear brakes were a little tricky because I needed to hook the emergency brake cables into the Viper calipers. Amazingly, with a little drilling and reworking of caliper brackets, it all fell into place. It was as if this was all meant to be. With more braking, I knew I needed more rubber on the road, so I also upgraded my wheels and tires to 18″ Cadillac Escalade wheels with 255/45/18 inch Z rated tires.
Naturally, the obvious question comes next…. Do they actually work? You bet they do. I can now stop fast enough to make my tongue stick out. I’m not sure if I can stop as well as a Viper (maybe better? gasp!), but this big brake upgrade has vastly exceeded all of my expectations. The feel of the pedal is at least 4000x better, and the added weight on each corner actually makes the truck feel more stable. I can’t explain it, it just is what it is. Accept it.