The '79 Chevy Big 10 Fleetside known to loyal CCT readers as the Americruise truck has been a great testbed for not only myself as an editor in search of firsthand knowledge, but for the manufacturers involved as well. As we all rushed to complete the truck I had owned for only a few short weeks to make its 6,000-mile maiden voyage the project had all of the trappings of a television reality show. The only difference was this was real life and if the truck did break down at any stage of the journey there was no backup crew, it would be game over for me and my '79 Chevy. As it turned out, equipped with Classic Performance Products prototype trailing-arm rear suspension kit for late C10 trucks, and the stock 350 backed with a bulletproof Gearstar 4L60E transmission the truck didn't skip a beat and made real believers out of the naysayers who tried to discourage me from attempting the feat.
The banzai run to Americruise in Lincoln, Nebraska, taught me some valuable lessons and provided a list of improvements I wanted to incorporate into the truck when I returned to California. It was after a leg-wetting experience in the Colorado Rockies I put high-performance brake upgrades at the top of the list. As part of Chevrolet's Big 10 option package, my '79 came with the F-44 heavy-duty brakes, which include beefier 11/4-inch thick rotors and definitely offer an improvement over the standard C10 1-inch wide variety. For the type of driver who likes to just cruise their truck and seldom drives like a maniac, the F-44 brakes with the right (brake pad) compound will be more than sufficient. For someone who likes to hang with the fast cars on winding mountain roads, and not run out of brakes, or occasionally might find themselves barreling down on a semi-rig that just pulled out to pass a slower semi the only logical answer is to install uber brakes. Yes, uber, that friendly little German word that means the extreme high end of the very best. The opportunity to upgrade my '79 Big 10 to the ultimate 4-wheel disc brake system presented itself when Classic Performance Products called and asked me if me if I would be interested in installing the new 4-wheel disc brake setup Wilwood had just released specifically for the Chevy C10. They didn't have to ask me twice. It was only a few moments after we spoke that I pulled the '79 into CPP's research and development center and the truck was up on the lift and getting new Wilwood brakes ... four monstrous Wilwood disc brakes! Every superlative in the book cannot do a better job of describing a performance increase than cold hard facts. Before we did anything, the '79 Big 10 was driven out to the track in Fontana, California, and we recorded the stopping distance from 60 mph to zero, and then two more hard stops from 60 to see if there was any brake fade. Stop number one took 173.89 feet, stop number two took 178.89 feet, and the third attempt took 190.10 feet, definitely an increasing pattern of brake fade.
The Wilwood/CPP tour de force for the C10 includes their 6-piston calipers with 14-inch rotors up front and 4-piston calipers with 13-inch rotors in the rear. After we get the installation completed we'll get the Big 10 back out on the track and see if we can't get those stopping distances down in the 120s and find out how well the uber brakes resist fade. As a side note, Wilwood products are available through CPP dealers and vice versa. The 14/13-inch C10 kit as shown is exclusive to Wilwood dealers.