From the early days of anything that moves on two or four wheels, man has
needed a way to stop it. Such braking could have been from a leg dragging
on the ground, a wooden block against a rubber tire or a brake shoe contacting
a drum! Certainly, the less notice of the braking, the better.
As vehicles became more and more powerful, the need for air cooling the
brakes became increasingly important. Manufactures then provided subtle
vents in wheels for air cooling but the manufacturers still concealed the brakes.
However, for Porsche, brake systems usually involved large cross drilled
rotors and multi-piston calipers. Additionally, open wheel designs enabled
such braking systems to operate at lower temperatures. Suddenly, brake
were not a thing of shame, but something of interest to look at and sometimes
even stare at.
Regarding the earlier 911s, the Fuchs alloy wheels, the ‘telephone dials’
as they were known, and the later ‘design 90’ alloys all concealed the
However, when the 964 was fitted with Cup Wheels in 1992, it’s as
if Porsche just gave up on trying to hide the goods. And in typical
Porsche fashion, they went the other way to make a statement with
the car’s brakes. At first, the discs were set well back and the calipers
were painted a subtle black so you had to look to see them.
At that time, Porsche brakes were made by an Italian company
named Brembo which was experimenting with different finishes
for its aluminum brake calipers. Brembo was under some pressure
to keep its brakes looking smart.
With customary Italian flair, someone at Brembo came up with the radical
idea of different colored brake calipers, and Porsche picked a fetching red
for the new brakes fitted to the 1993 Turbo 3.6. Situated behind the stunning
18-inch Speedline split-rim wheels, the new brakes really made a statement.
The large red four-piston calipers next to cross drilled and vented discs were
bigger than anything the Porsche had previously fitted to its production cars.
And show it off is what Porsche indeed did!
In the new world, rather than something to be hidden, it was okay to admire
brakes. Although the units were made by Brembo, the calipers has Porsche
written across them just in case someone was not entirely sure of what car they
were looking at.
Porsche continued the theme of red calipers on the 993 and 996 turbos
to differentiate them from the standard Carreras. The red four-piston calipers
not only looked great with the large 322mm discs, but such was part of the
best braking system on any production car. How good was the brake system?
Well, the 993 turbo could brake from 62 to 0 in 2.61 seconds. Now that’s
By making brakes visible, Porsche started a trend that has become widespread
in the auto industry. So, the next time you stop to admire the red or yellow brake
calipers on a Porsche, now you know you are looking at a 911 icon brake system
made by a small company located in the Italian Alps.
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He
welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: