Corvair Attributes Re: <VV> Vega -- disc brake history

Chris & Bill Strickland lechevrier at
Fri Oct 21 15:39:10 EDT 2005

I would just think that this prattling on about disc with drum parking 
brakes is just short of ridiculous as it is simply automotive history 
and anyone that really wants to could 'look it up in the books' 
[actually I thought everybody just sort of knew this stuff - obviously I 
err],  but this is now and that was then and a lot of these folks must 
not have been born until 1970, so, fyi ...

Disc style brakes were in common use as a driveline parking brake for 
many years before they were used as the service brake. The 1949 & 50 
Crosley cars had 4 wheel disc brakes that were similar to a modern disc 
brake, but it was not a very well implemented design and they went back 
to drums in 51. Chrysler -Lambert had a rather different style of disc 
brake (the 'expanding caliper' was internal to the rotating disc) that 
was used on both axles of  (some?) 1949-1953 Imperials. Both of these 
were hydraulic, but I really don't recall what they had for a parking 
brake. Dad used to own these big Chryslers, but I don't ever recall 
seeing any of these -- maybe I need to check with my Chrysler crazy 2nd 
cousin who has a collection (includes an Airflow, several earlier 
Imperials, and a couple 300s).

The Jaguar XK 150, which I think was introduced in 1955, had 4-wheel 
disc brakes which I believe had the parking drum thing built into the 
rear, similar to the 58 Jag 3.8 Mk II sedan that my folks used to own -- 
what a highway car that was, but that is a different tale all unto 
itself. It did stop!

Chevrolet introduced this same style brake with ventilated rotors and 
the integral drum parking brake as an option on the 1965 Corvette in, 
guess what, 1964, which was about the same time Porsche put them on the 
356C models. But they weighed a ton, probably why we didn't see them on 
the Late Model Vairs. Actually, the in house Corvette 'Q model' 
development car of 1957 had a design proposal that included a rear 
transaxle and inboard disc brakes, but apparently the project was 
abandoned because of the 1958 recession and ongoing development costs of 
the upcoming Corvair. Realize the Vette didn't have independent rear 
suspension until 1963, the vaunted 'split-windows' still had drum 
brakes, and the Corvair could out brake it 60-0.

Since this is specifically referring to modern mass production autos, I 
am certain there were racing applications in common use somewhat before 
this time as well as limited-production automotive use [Tucker wasn't 
the only one to have a DeLorean dream -- there must have been a couple 
hundred post-War companies that built fewer than 5 cars (Airway, 
Edwards, Hydramotive, La Saetta,  Multiplex, ...) , many of which have 
only a paper trail left. A few companies made a hundred or so (Apollo, 
Bocar, Griffith, Nash-Healy, Kurtis, Imp, Rometsch, ...)]. Since 
automotive disc service brakes seems to be primarily a post World War II 
development, perhaps they can be found on WW II aircraft ?

Bill Strickland

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