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How to Upgrade Your Brakes Without Needing a Tetanus Shot

On this episode of DIY Lab: Sure, Eric Goeres's 25-year-old Miata stops. We just want it to stop better.

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Archeologists have long theorized about Eric Goeres’s 1992 Mazda Miata. Some say it was built during the Bronze Age using primitive tools of the time. Others date it to the late 20th century, when it was passed among several owners, none of whom could be arsed to change the oil. 

Carbon analysis of its undercarriage suggests it was parked in a saltwater pond or in the vicinity of Gloucester, Massachusetts for 300 years. Indeed, Eric’s Miata had gone a few rounds with the champ, and we were just the cornermen there to get it back in the ring. A cursory shakedown drive revealed two particularly challenged areas: brakes and suspension.

Even with the Mazda’s robust build quality, a quarter-century spent outdoors in the punishing Northeast had taken its toll on the Miata’s running gear, and it needed expert help. So we brought it to our buddy Carlos Dos Santos at Brooklyn Motor Works. Carlos has always risen to The Drive‘s challenges, and had the skills (and various torches) to face down the dubious infrastructure.

We chose an eLine brake kit from R1 Concepts, which includes steel slotted and cross-drilled rotors—in gold, of course—and ceramic pads. Stainless steel lines from Summit racing would allow less fluid expansion and create firmer pedal feel. The order from eBay Motors came to $341, and we picked up a new set of stock calipers locally, pushing the total cost to $500.

What happens next, as you’ll see in this episode of DIY Lab, is an amazing leap of faith, some tricky wrenching, and gold rotors like a boss.