1970 Ghia Brakes

VW underneath a classic Italian body design.

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1970 Ghia Brakes

Post by Janzreindance » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:53 pm

I just purchased a 1970 Karmann Ghia, it brakes are shot.
I want to convert the drums to disk all around. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Re: 1970 Ghia Brakes

Post by Marc » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:01 pm

There are aftermarket kits to convert to rear discs - the less-expensive ones lack any provision for a parking brake, which makes them not legal for street use, but setups with e-brake exist. Haven't used any myself so I can't recommend a specific brand/source.

IF your plans include custom rims, you might also consider fitting Porsche 924/944 rear discs - but that means going to a 5x130 bolt pattern. Fender space in a 'Ghia can be tight and the majority of used Porsche rims you'll come across are fairly wide, so this is a project that requires advance planning to avoid sitting on jackstands for weeks while you sort that out.

You won't necessarily need to change the master cylinder, or add external residual-pressure checkvalves. In most cases the stock M/C (or the "universal replacement" 113 611 015BD part) will suffice. Some folks swear by converting to stainless-steel braided hoses for a firmer pedal; personally I've never found that necessary, even in racing applications - but unless the lines have been replaced recently, new ones should be part of your plan even if you stick with rubber. Take a real good look at the main brake pipe where it passes around the pedal cluster - water tracked in tends to collect there and rust out the pipe. If it doesn't look pristine, change that too...if you don't, it may fail the first time you big-leg the pedal once the rest of the system is in good condition.

IMO the front-to-rear bias of the stock disc/drum setup is a little too high (particularly on wet pavement and/or with staggered tire sizes) but you don't have to go to rear discs to improve upon that. Even the stock Type I drums can be made more effective by simply fitting `65-up Standard Beetle front wheel cylinders back there, and perhaps upgrading to semi-met linings. The larger Type III/IV rear drum are a bolt-on deal too (with a slight unsprung-weight penalty). They add slightly to the track width, around ⅛" per side, which usually isn't enough to cause a problem with fender clearance.

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Re: 1970 Ghia Brakes

Post by FJCamper » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:04 pm

Hi Janzreindance ,

We've had about every stock and aftermarket brake configuration on our racing and street Ghias. If yours is a street car, save some money and keep your rear drums and hand brake. Marc's suggestion about replacing the rear drum's slave cylinder is old school excellent.

We have used the EMPI style rear disk kit with hand brake, and it was marginal, especially since we were trying it on a full car car.

Now you are in luck in that you have an IRS car. Swing axles require some precise bearing cap spacing to allow for axle shaft movement. If the spacing is off, you lose your rear brakes and have to pump them up frequently to get the pads back up against the rotors. This is called "knock-back."

We do use four wheel disks on our Ghia road racers, using the ATE/VARGAS calipers front and rear. Four wheel disk systems are quicker and easier to take care of, see problems, change out pads on the rear, etc.

This is hard-won experience talking here, both from Marc and myself.


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Re: 1970 Ghia Brakes

Post by helowrench » Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:27 pm

I have a 71 Ghia with exactly what Marc is suggesting.
I liked it so much, that when I converted my Bug to Disc front, I simply replicated the Ghia setup on my Beetle.

The Standard Beetle FRONT wheel cylinder on the Ghia rear gives an excellent balance when coupled with the Ghia disc setup on the front.

You will want for more tire.
I am now running 205/65/15 on both the bug and ghia, and they handle and brake better than many modern cars.


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Re: 1970 Ghia Brakes

Post by spivman » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:50 am

helowrench, what was your fix for rear tire rub for that size tire?

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