All the true car guys out there know what to check for when looking for a used car--you check the engine out for leaks, check for frame damage, look for wear on pedals, and finally drive the car. But before any of that goes down, when you actually see the car for the first time, you'll get a funny feeling in your gut that screams, "this is the one". At least that's what happens to me. I wish that damn gut feeling would work when we pick the winners for Sunday's games (still can't believe Miami beat New England). It took me a little less than two weeks to find the example you see here. And when my four eyes landed on it, I knew it was the one. All the DA's I had scoped out previously were either in San Gabriel Valley or Riverside (aka, the 909). I hate the 210 freeway, so narrowed my search to samples within 15 miles. (By the way, for those living in California, www.Recycler.com should be the first site you check out for good deals on used cars). Looking for a car that's 10-12 years old is a pain. Granted, the cars are old, but age is not a justified prerequisite for neglect. I couldn't believe some of the cars I saw. I could write a few thousand words describing the sheer horror of seeing these poor DA's. But since I'm already on word #234, I won't. I narrowed my search to include only the 92-93 model because of the extra 10hp garnered mainly from the more aggressive camshafts than the 90-91. In addition, I liked the fact that the bumpers, namely the front, look way better than those on the earlier models.
So after gleefully handing the owner $1500, I took the DA home to give the car a more thorough inspection. The car accelerated pretty well. I've owned four DA's, so I have a good idea of how the car is supposed to feel. One problem area I made a mental note of were the brakes. The pedal had a mushy feel to it, which meant the master cylinder was probably shot. Even worse was the steering wheel's insistence to shimmy back and forth when the brakes were applied. Not a good sign.
After removing the front wheels, the culprit reared it's ugly head. The rotors were way past their service limit, and the pads were about as thick as a graham cracker. With a small list of brake parts I needed to complete the job, I took a field trip to my local Kragen Auto Parts and found everything I needed. Or that's how it's supposed to be, right? The master cylinder was in stock, and at $38.99 (plus core), I felt like picking up two. The pads and rotors were another story. They only had Bendix. Why replace when you can upgrade? Each plain vanilla OEM-type replacement rotor cost $50 for the front and $64 for the rear. The OEM-type brake pads were in the same neighborhood, costing $42 and $36 for the front and rear, respectively. That brings the total for STOCK brakes to $306, plus tax. Not cool. I paid the $38 or so for the master cylinder and left the pads and rotors behind with our lazy parts guy at the counter.
Like most geeks, I hopped online as soon as I got home to check and see what the aftermarket had to offer. had a pretty intuitive site, so I checked it out. Sure enough, they had everything for the DA right smack-dab in front of my grille. I ordered a set of Sport Rotors which ran $300 for the set of four, which might sound a bit steep, but I had heard a lot of positive remarks from people who used them, especially all my cousins in England ( rotors and pads are made in the U.K.). I also threw down another $53 for the front pads and $44 for the rears, bringing my brake upgrade total to $397, just a shade over $90 more than the stock counterparts. And I wouldn't have to put up with rusty rotor syndrome.
I also picked up a set of Stainless Steel brake lines to round out the brake package. The lines are D.O.T. approved and whip-tested before they get shipped. They also come in a ton of colors. I splurged on the blue versions. The coolest part is that they come complete with OEM brake line holders that mount perfectly to the strut body for a factory-like fit. I'll be using these on all my project cars in the future--they are that good.
Before anything, drain all the brake fluid. Since we already swapped out the master cylinder, our brake system was as dry as a popcorn fart.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting a huge difference between the stock setup and the aily use. For an everyday streetcar that needs reliable, fade-free stopping bite, tag-team, but after bedding the pads, the braking difference was night and day. Obviously, this could be partially attributed to the fact that the old rotors and pads were worn pretty badly. But the upgrade should show it's true worth after the bigger wheels and stickier tires are mounted. Some readers may question my choice to go with the pad/rotor/line trifecta. I could have easily picked up a Wilwood 12.2" big brake kit for a couple hundred bucks extra, but those brakes won't fit behind any old-school wheels. Besides, this is a street car, not a race car. I like my low-maintenance sealed calipers. Moreover, I'm very used to the modulation of the stock brakes for daily use. For an everyday streetcar that needs reliable, fade-free stopping bite, Green Stuff pads, aily use. For an everyday streetcar that needs reliable, fade-free stopping bite, rotors, and lines are an excellent option for those who rather upgrade than replace.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best:
EBC Rotor Quality/Fit - 10
EBC Pad Quality/Fit - 10
Techna-Fit Brake Line Quality/Fit - 10
Brake Upgrade Performance* - 8
Ease of Installation (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced) - Intermediate
*Using Castrol GT-LMA Dot 4 Brake Fluid $7.99/quart
- 10mm, 12mm, and 14mm sockets
- 3/8 ratchet
- 10mm, 12mm, and 14mm open-ended wrenches
- Standard pliers
- Channel lock pliers
- #2 Phillips screwdriver
- Flat-blade screwdriver
- 10mm and 12mm Flare wrench
Tool MVP: 10mm/12mm Flare Wrench
We've just started. Part 3 of our Project Flashback will give you the play-by-play on the installation and evaluation of KONI Adjustable Shocks and Eibach Sportline Springs. Stay tuned to SuperStreetOnline for updates. We might even have sneak peeks of our new wheels...you'll be surprised!