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2003 VW GTI - Braking On A Budget - Project Silverstone

Project Silverstone gets some much-needed stopping upgrades.

May 17, 2012
Eurp 1205 01+2003 vw gti+cover Photo 1/20   |   2003 VW GTI - Braking On A Budget - Project Silverstone

The Parts
StopTech needs no introduction. Its big brake kits are some of the best proven on the market, being regularly used by race teams and weekend warriors around the world. But what many people don’t know is the everyday applications.

We decided to pick up a set of Street Performance brake pads for Silverstone, which would give us better performance than a stock pad without having the noise, dust and longer warm-up period normally associated with a harder race pad.

2015 Volkswagen GTI
$24,785 Base Model (MSRP) 25/34 MPG Fuel Economy

The next company to help us is less widely known outside the Euro scene: Adam’s Rotors. The company was started by hardcore VAG enthusiast Adam Woodhams, whose name should ring a bell – he built three previous eurotuner feature cars and continues to make his presence felt in the scene by offering new rotor solutions.

The company custom builds rotors for each customer. With up to 12 different drilling and grooved patterns and the option of zinc finishes and ceramic hub coatings, you can have whatever you want. There are also big brake kits alongside the one-piece factory rotor replacements, but we wanted a quick and easy solution.

The rotors on our Mk4 1.8T measured 288x25mm front and 232x9mm rear respectively. We decided to keep the rears the stock size with slotted replacements but, with the help of DBC, upgraded to the larger front rotors found on the 20AE GTI with its 312x25mm discs.

This should be an easy bolt-on upgrade considering no hardware was needed except the carriers.

We should also mention, we chose Adam’s AR Race rotor design because of its double slotted design. The benefits of slotting are simple – the slots disperse heat, keep the rotor surface cooler, remove dust and gas from the contact patch and give the pads extra bite when applied.

With the parts loaded in the trunk,we took the short trip to our friends at Raven Motorsports in Long Beach, CA. Although they were probably glad to see us gone after building our 2.0-liter stroker engine, the brake installation would be fast and painless. Even with an oil change, we were in and out within a couple of hours. But we’ll show you how to do them at home…

Shopping Cart
Adam's Rotorsfront and rear rotors$
DBCfront carriers$
StopTechfront and rear Street Performance pads$110 front
$71 rear



Eurp 1205 11+2003 vw gti+front rotors Photo 11/20   |   Front

Once our GTI was back on it wheels, it was time to break-in the new pads and rotors. If you’re doing this at home, don’t drive normally after the installation because you could ruin the performance of your new parts.

The bedding-in process helps prepare the pad and rotor surfaces for safer braking while also promoting even pad wear.

Heating the rotors and pads will ensure the pad is transferred evenly onto the rotors, while also burning the top layer of zinc away from the new rotors.

The process is tedious and we recommend doing it at night on an abandoned road: We performed two sets of ten continuous stops from 60-10mph. You don’t need to come to a complete stop, nor do you want to allow the brakes to cool in between the stops.

After the first set of ten, wait for the brakes to cool and then repeat the process. Once the brakes cool again you should find the pedal is firm and responsive. You might want to change your brake fluid before doing this if the fluid is old.

Our brake upgrade was overdue. The rear pads were beginning to show some metal and could no longer be considered safe.

With that said, once we installed the new StopTech pads and Adam’s rotors, the car stopped better than new. The brake pedal is much more responsive, whether it’s a slow-speed stop in traffic, or hard braking when I’m trying to have some fun.

And we’re very happy it’s not twitchy or over-sensitive, as compared to some massive four- or six-piston big-brake solutions we’ve sampled.

The new brakes feel safe and perfect for daily driving. I’m not going to be putting Silverstone through 30min of track abuse, so can’t imagine wanting anything more aggressive. The 20AE upgrade in rotor size and the slotted design also gives a sportier appearance.

Another mission complete, we’ve got more upgrades coming for Project Silverstone. If you noticed, it’s on the the stock wheels because our BBS LMs are being refinished by Rotiform and should be back soon. We’ll have a story on that along with an install and test of a Wavetrac differential.

Sam Du
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