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  1. #1

    bryphotoguy's Avatar
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    Car - Brake Question
    So, Memorial weekend I went with my gf to visit her parents in Kentucky. Her parents are actually really cool and she has a '79 Formula Firbird in mint shape. I mean, her dad told me to rev the engine in the park to try and scare everyone.
    It was my first time driving a muscle car and it wasn't as cool as I thought it'd be but I didn't wanna burn out in it. It didn't seem to have the power I was expecting either....
    Anyways, the brake pedal did not have any give. It had about 2" from it's normal state to full depressed. And if I had to assume, there is no way that car could stop in an emergency. It could not stop fast at all.
    I am used to driving a Honda del Sol (similar to a Civic but a 2 seater) which is a lot smaller and lighter. I assume I don't have any sort of power braking system seeing the Sol doesn't even have power steering and assume there is some kind of assist on the 'bird. Maybe just because I literally have a ton less to stop, I am just used to stopping a lot easier.
    Is there something wrong with the brakes? Is it just me?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Bryan

    January 2008 Member of the Month

  2. #2

    jotdess's Avatar
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    It's possible he has steel braided lines and different brake fluid. When I changed mine on my old wrx it stiffened up the brake pedal significantly. It could be too that it's old and doesn't have as much give as you're used too.
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

  3. #3

    Kar98's Avatar
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    It's just you. The brake pedal isn't supposed to have all that much play.
    I has a signijer.

  4. #4

    fleurya's Avatar
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    People usually are really thrown off driving an old car when used to driving newer cars. They feel is a lot different. My Mustang has drum brakes and no power, which I can definitely feel when I hit the brake, but I know if I push it all the way down the wheels would lock up and it will stop just fine. (I've had to do it before )

    I imagine your car has power brakes and his 'bird probably doesn't That can feel a LOT different, just like the difference in manual and power steering.

    My '65 Mustang drives like a tank and is a little rougher keeping going straight down the road, but I just love it!
    "Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others"

  5. #5

    eric's Avatar
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    as far as the power goes, the fact that it's a '79 has everything to do with it.
    even corvettes of the late '70s were pretty anemic.
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  6. #6


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric View Post
    as far as the power goes, the fact that it's a '79 has everything to do with it.
    even corvettes of the late '70s were pretty anemic.
    Yeah. Everything cars was scaled back. It was the era of down-sizing, engine crippling, gas lineups and 55 mph speed limits.
    Quote Originally Posted by bryphotoguy View Post
    It didn't seem to have the power I was expecting either....
    Does it have an automatic or standard transmission? If it has a 350-cubic-inch engine and an auto transmission, it would never have been the fastest knife in the drawer.
    Anyways, the brake pedal did not have any give. It had about 2" from it's normal state to full depressed.
    Two inches is about normal. The assist would be much greater than it is in newer cars, as it would the power steering. Fashions change. Measure the travel in any newer car.
    And if I had to assume, there is no way that car could stop in an emergency. It could not stop fast at all.
    From memory, the thing has front disc brakes and rear drums. It would stop fast in an emergency, but as you say, not as quickly as a car weighing a ton less and with four-wheel discs. But you couldn't have tried an emergency-stop experiment in someone else's car.
    . . . and assume there is some kind of assist on the 'bird.
    I doubt anything GM made by '79 didn't have power brakes, with the possible exception of Chevettes.
    Is there something wrong with the brakes? Is it just me?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    All in all, if the car is kept in good shape, there's probably nothing wrong with them — compared with the rest of the outdated technology, even in '79, that GM and all the other domestic car makers used.

    My Google-fu seems to be lacking today. I can't find any Formula performance specifications on the web. I found these Firebird Trans-Am performance stats, but nothing about braking.
    Overall, the 1977-79 T/A 6.6 Firebirds, were good for 15.30 - 15.50’s seconds @ 90-94 mph quarter-mile times straight off the showroom floor. The 1978 cars with 4-speed manual transmissions may be slightly quicker due to the use of 3.42 rear gears. It has been shown with minor tuning, high 14-sec quarter mile times are within reach.
    And I found this page on the Trans-Am with the 400-cubic-inch engine. Nothing about brakes.

  7. #7

    bryphotoguy's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the help.
    I can't say I was expecting much. I knew going into it I'd be a little dissapointed because I knew it was a 4-speed automatic. And with it being an older muscle car, it'd have a decent engine but way too much just to restrict its power.
    Next time I will just have to have a little more fun with it I guess. Maybe race it against my car (off the streets) for a little excitement.
    btw, the base Sol has front disc and rear drum.
    I guess I just need to remember it's older and the tech. isn't all there. I did enjoy the looks more than I do in my Sol though.
    Bryan

    Here's a pic of the 'bird:

    January 2008 Member of the Month

  8. #8


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    The brakes will only have a problem *usually* if they feel slack. As long as it resists your foot when you press on it, it should be fine.

  9. #9

    AnthonyJK's Avatar
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    The brakes on older cars are stiffer, they were like that on my 67 ss camaro. They were probably drum brakes which are horrible.

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