In our never-ending quest for better performance from our vintage Mustangs, we tend to think about four-barrel carburetors, hotter cams, dual exhausts, and larger engine modifications. But better braking is just as crucial to performance as a more powerful engine. After all, what good is a hotter engine if you can't stop your Mustang?
Front disc brakes have always been a key to improved brake performance. In more recent years, rear disc brakes have become a popular upgrade because they virtually eliminate brake fade under the most demanding conditions. The downside to them is cost-they can be expensive. Now you can get larger, more powerful rear drum brakes with Master Power Brakes' super-large 11-inch drum-brake conversion kit. Actually an off-the-shelf Ford drum brake designed for intermediate and large Fords with large-bearing and 9-inch rear axles, the kit also fits 8-inch rearends with small-bearing axles in classic Mustangs.
After spending time with this new drum-brake kit from Master Power, here's what we know: It installs with great ease, although you may need to tweak or replace the rear-axle brake lines for correct fit. Although it'll fit most 14-inch wheel applications, it won't fit them all. We suggest this kit for 15-inch-and-larger wheel sizes.
When we first heard about this kit, it made us think of the vintage Fairlane station wagon 10X2.5-inch rear drum-brake package upgrade that has long been popular. But the brake shoes with the Master Power kit are 2 inches wide, providing more brake-friction surface area. Parking brake performance is also better than most rear disc-brake kits.
Proper FitCorrect wheel fit isn't just a matter of appearance. The wheel face must lay flush on the brake drum for stability and safety. Ideally, the wheel will fit squarely on the hub. Although some wheel-indexing holes don't always fit perfectly, the brake-indexing hole must. If it's loose, it will cause the drum to track haphazardly around the shoes.