C5 Corvette Brake Upgrade Options

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NOTE: This is a work in progress. Some measurements may not be entirely correct. Some upgrades I've not captured in here. I'll update it all when I've completed researching. In the mean time, please do contact me if you've got any other suggestions!

So if you've got a C5 Corvette, chances are pretty good it's pushing over 20 years old, if not older. While these cars were no slouch for their day, they definitely have had improvements over the years and even between models. The base model C5 has 12.6" front brake rotors and 11.6" rears and by contrast the C5 Z06 uses 13.4" front rotors, 12" rear rotors and the C6Z06 has 14" front rotors and 13.4" rear rotors. Big differences!

I personally had braking issues when I hit the track, that issue specificaly being overheating. While I was able to brake to well within the maximum capabilities of my brake system, one of the times I exited the track the heat soak into the brake system resulted in my fluid boiling and I lost all brake pedal. That's unnerving to think of happening to you on the actual track!

The most common solution to this is larger rotors. There's some debate about this amongst auto enthusiats, but in nearly every other sport using disc brakes (mountain bikes, dirt bikes, sportbikes, etc) larger rotors are well noted to dissipate heat better. Also, due to the additional leverge clamping further out on larger diameter rotors,you will not have to use as much force to get the same level of braking. On mountain bikes and dirt bikes it matters to help avoid arm pump, and I have found on a track car it helps as you aren't stomping on the pedal to utilize the full braking potential of your car. Some people might think "just build up bigger legs bro" but they forget that you need some foot articulation to heel toe a car, and heel toeing is easier if your foot isn't tryin to stomp your brakes to death.

There are a lot of options out there to upgrade the C5 with. Some include mixing and matching parts from different generations of Corvette, and some even are wise enough to use parts from a different GM vehicle with the exact same brake calipers to avoid paying the "Corvette tax".

Below are my findings, sorted from mild to wild. Also please note none of these listings include the cost of going with stainless braided brake lines, or upgrading to Motul RBF or equivelant quality brake fluid. It's assumed if you're doing any of these upgrades you're going to go with those upgrades at the same time as well, so it's not worth including or differentiating between upgrades.

ALSO: Be aware that all of these upgrades with larger rotors require running larger wheels up front than the OEM base model 17" wheels up front. Whether you go square (18" front and rear) or another upgrade such as Z06 wheels front and back, you will need to upgrade your wheels.  Some rear 18" wheels also still don't have enough clearance so also be aware of that. Given however that the OEM front tires were only 245, the base model wheel width and tire selection isn't terribly up to the task anyways.

Brake upgrades, From Mild to Wild

DRM Stainless C5 Pistons with a C5 Corvette Brake Caliper

Just Upgrade The Front to Stainless Caliper Pistons

Estimated cost: $155

This appears to be the cheapest upgrade out there. Just add in the stainless caliper pistons to reduce heat transfer and you're in business! Lots of people track just the base model C5 calipers and claim it's fine. For me it was fine until I got into the 305+ tire width and 18x11 wheels. Your mileage may vary.


  • Cheapest option at appx $150
  • Reasonably Easy Install


  • Only helps with heat transfer. No outright braking power improvements.

Parts list:

Upgrade to the C6 J55 Brackets + Rotors

Estimated cost: $420 - $590

Here's a great budget option with minimal work involved or changes. The C6 J55 package includes slightly larger rotors and different brackets to place the calipers further out on the rotors. This should slightly improve braking performance and cooling / fade resistance, and doesn't cost much currently. The parts for this are discontinued but can be found online still making this relatively cheap to do, but possibly more expensive going forward.


  • Presuming parts can all be sourced without much headache this is a solid budget contender.
  • MINIMAL mechanical knowledge needed.
  • Slight improvement likely to braking and cooling.


  • Becoming harder to source these parts as GM discontinued making them. May require getting creative in asking in various groups and what not. Be careful of scammers pretending to sell parts when looking and only pay with paypal for goods and services.
  • Not a full jump in performance, and for serious track duty you're just spending money to later throw it away again potentially, with no real benefits over the other configurations. That said, it may be all you find you need?

Parts list:

  • J55 front bracket (GM# 88964166) - $45-75 ea (need 2x)
  • J55 rear bracket (GM# 88964167) - $40-75 ea (need 2x)
  • C6 J55 front rotors
    • GM Genuin #177-0924 - $90 ea
    • ACDelco Gold 18A2429 - $69 ea
  • C6 J55 rear rotors
    • Napa NB 48880386 - $55 ea (double check part is correct).

NOTE: Caliper bolts are all supposedly single use bolts according to the manufacturer. Pletnty of folks re-use them however. I'll let you determine for yourself just how much you care about this, but if you want to be absolutely certain everything is perfect, you'll get new GM bolts as well which will add costs.


Cadillac CSV Brake Caliper

Upgrade The Front to C6 Z06 14" Rotors + Cadillac ATS-V Premium Calipers

(aka the Cadillac Brembo Upgrade)

Estimated cost: $503 - $606

Per another gentlemans research, you can install the brake calipers from the Cadillac ATS-V, which are 4 piston brembos calipers. They will bolt right onto your OEM knuckles and you can then run them with 14" 355mm C6Z06 brake rotors. It's just shy of perfectly plug and play, but pretty damn close overall.

I tested this myself and this is the current setup I have on my C5 corvette. I tested the braking distance and rotor temps along with took this setup to the track.

You can go slightly cheaper by just running non-name brand semi-metallic brake pads. For street use, this is probably all you need. I included the track day brake pad option. I was unable to find a Hawk brakepad option. I also listed painting and decaling the caliper as optional. I can't imagine you want a cadillac logo on your corvette so it seemed reasonable to include the cost, but mine got covered in so much brake dust anyways it's probably not worth having painted anyways. I personally went with black paint and white brembo logos. Others do Corvette logos on their caliper, but I think Brembo will be cooler, and it doesn't have that "Corvette tax" additional price in there.


  • Even better braking up front with bigger rotors + 4 piston calipers
  • Improved cooling up front from larger rotor.
  • Still a very affordable option.
  • VERY reasonable Install.
  • Easier to change brake pads than OEM calipers.


  • Requires upgrading to larger wheels in the front, 18" at least, and many 18" wheels do not work.
  • Possibly unbalanced braking if the rear is not upgraded to match (no reports of this yet, but not impossible)
  • When getting brake pads you need to remember what Cadillac year and model.

Parts list:

Upgrade The Front to Cadillac Brembos + Swap front calipers and rotors to rear

Estimated cost: $0 additional to Brembo front swap

It would appear you can take the C5 base model front brake brackets, swap them L to R and mount them on the rears with the front calipers as well and front rotors. You lose your parking brakes, however if you're tracking the car you really shouldn't be utilizing the parking brake anyways.

This has been reported as possible, but not tested by myself and I have seen limited documentation on this.


  • Maximum braking improvement for lowest cost


  • You lose the parking brake functionality.
  • Might be unbalanced as it increases the rear diameter a bunch.
  • Untested, but free to test if you've got the spare time!

Upgrade The Front to Cadillac Brembos + C6Z51 rear Caliper Brackets + Rotors

Estimated cost: $250 additional to Brembo front swap ($850 total)

This is the combination I have on my corvette currently at the time of last updating this article. It's been track tested to work and it works pretty darn good for me. I went this route despite the cheaper cost of swapping the fronts to the rear as this let me retain the parking brake, and I have delusions that if nescessary I could still sell this car as a streetable C5 corvette.

This upgrade path that lets you retain the parking brakes in the rear while improving cooling and stopping leverage due to a larger caliper. Unfortunately GM stopped manufacturing these caliper brackets at the time of this posting (Late 2022) but I was able to find a used pair for $110 shipped. C6 Z51 rotors also ran me $140, so I'm at $250. Additional costs may be incurred in your search but this shouldn't be too hard to pull off.


  • A known to work budget combination that has been tested
  • Incredibly easy to bolt up. No brake bleeding required.
  • Retains parking brake.


  • May help better balance braking, but it may not balance things enough.

Upgrade all 4 corners to Cadillac Brembos

Estimated cost: $1006 - $1212 (2x regular Brembo swap)

Recently saw that someone had done this so I added this to the list. Why would you want to do this? Well,  you're a friggen madman and want 14" pizza plates on all 4 corners allowing you to stop so hard that your passengers pants go flying through the windshield on decel!

A fellow on facebook converted his rear using the same front calipers placed in the rear with all of the parking brake bits removed. Instead of a parking brake he ran a second hydro caliper as well for drifting his car.

Does this yield improvements to the rear braking? Does it throw brake bias off? Does it increase cooling enough to warrant the gain in rotational mass? Would anyones mother ever approve of this!?!? I don't know. I just know it's been done and dirft tested. If you're a madman, you can try this too!

Upgrade to C6 Z06 Calipers Front and Rear

Estimated cost: $2299

This particular combination uses a package of parts. The cost isn't cheap at double the cost of the Cadillac Brembo/Z51 combo, but the upgrade effectiveness is there and significant and it's well documented and tried and tested. You ditch your caliper brackets in favor of a the C5 Z06 solid calipers with 6 piston calipers up front, 4 piston calipers in the rear. This is a balanced upgrade that matches the factory components the C6 Z06 came with.

The rotor sizes are also significant at 355mm front (14") and 340mm rear (13.4"). While the additional diameter increase over the C6 Z51 is minor at 3%, the overall upgrade is 11% larger, while the Z51 is 6.3%, so this is almost double the percentage increase.


  • Braking improvement that is likely better than anything else mentioned thus far
  • All in one kit including brake lines. One purchase, install, and done!
  • No grinding, no painting, no faffing around. Buy and bolt on!
  • Known quantity, these have been a common upgrade and a lot of folks swear by them!


  • Requires upgrading to larger wheels in the front, 18" at least.
  • Not cheap.
  • Other kits aren't much more and yield yet another level of performance improvement.
  • Out of stock nearly everywhere, and currently not shipping for 3-4 months
  • Calipers are "discontinued" and supposedly very difficult to find for this reason.
  • People complain of brake fade with these setups
  • Brake pads are supposedly quite difficult to change.

Parts List:

Upgrade to AP Brakes

Estimated cost: $6,000 - $9,500 for just calipers

This is the mack daddy of brake upgrade options. No expense spared, the best out there. All the best Corvettes that were setting insanely fast track times out there run these. I was turning alright times at Laguna seca and the fella with these on his car beat me by the better part of 20 seconds.. with a passenger.

I'm betting if you've got a C5 corvette that you track, these are likely worth almost as much as your corvette. In my case these calipers with upgraded rotors and nice brake pads would cost as much as I paid for my Corvette brand new.

If cost is not a factor, this is what you get.

A wise man once told me though... if you can't afford to throw it off the side of the track and not cry about it... you've got too much car. This to me would make my car too much.

Parts List

Honorable Mentions

The following options do exist, but I chose not to include them as I felt the aforementioned choices were the best ones to go with for improved braking and cooling for the price. The following

  • Wilwood Disc Brake Kits - Appx $2000 - OEM base model rotor sizes with improved braking capabilities due to larger calipers and some changes to the rotors. Seems like a recipe for potentially overheating brakes on the track as the small base model rotor size is retained, but for street use you'll get vastly improved braking and you may not need sustained back to back extreme decelerations from 120+ down to cornering speeds.
  • Stoptech big brake kit - Appx $2899 (just front) to $5798 - This will upgrade you to 14" brakes in the front and in the back if you want to go that sizable. Rumor has it since GM stopped making the C6 calipers, Stoptech is making them now. These are almost up there with AP brakes in pricing, but given I see very little of these at the track and Wilwood or AP are mentioned the most, these go in the honorable mention category.
  • Brembo big brake kit -  This is a six piston setup, and includes rotors.Texas speed sells it for $4895 for the front. I have no idea how this compares to the AP kit. Maybe it's a contendor? Maybe it's not. Not a lot of writeups or information coming out of the C5/C6 community on these just yet.

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