Bournemouth, UK @lee_sibs
Model 996 carrera 4s Year 2002
Acquired April 2017
Part of the 996 Carrera 4S’s unique specification is its revised chassis taken directly from the 996 Turbo. This of course includes those ‘Big Red’ brake calipers, housing four pistons and a set of brake pads which bite into 330mm drilled and ventilated discs all around the car.
Except on my C4S, those calipers had a less-than-iconic ‘Big Pink’ look, their original hue markedly faded due to savage lacquer peel. They’d been like that since I bought the car, and after a representative at Poole Accident Repair gave me a reasonable quote to get them refurbished at a recent cars & coffee, I decided it was about time those calipers looked as good as Zuffenhausen intended! Luckily for me (and in the interests of diligent journalism), Poole Accident Repair were also happy for me to shadow for the two days required to turn the brakes around.
After their breakdown and removal from the car, the factory calipers (originally made by Italian outfit, Brembo) were sprayed with acid then wiped down with a cloth before a jet wash to ensure all road detritus had been removed.
It was at this point we discovered the calipers had been ‘refurbed’ before, albeit poorly, as evidence of shoddy masking was present, plus the lacquer lifting in certain areas suggests the calipers weren’t properly clean last time out.
Master panel beater and paint extraordinaire, Ian, then got to work scotching the calipers’ surface to give a key. This was done by hand with a mini DA and 1100 grit. Once done, the nipples and other gibbons on the caliper were comprehensively masked up before another clean. A very light layer of etch primer was then applied over the areas where the calipers’ surface was showing.
With that exhaustive prep work complete, it was time for paint. The colour of my Carrera 4S’s ‘Big Red’ calipers is of course given away by their name, the special paint applied being resistant to heat by up to 300 degrees. Their appearance was gloss at first, yet this soon changed to a matte effect as we left the calipers in the oven to bake for ten minutes at 68 degrees.
From here, the ‘Porsche’ script sticker is applied to the caliper’s outer-facing surface – as Ian pointed out, even applying the sticker is a delicate job, as he needed to be careful each time not to leave any grease from his fingers on the surface which could compromise the lacquer later on.
Stickers expertly applied, Ian then applied a generous layer of lacquer, once again giving the calipers a brilliant shine. They were then placed in the oven for half an hour at 70 degrees before being left to cool down at room temperature for 20 minutes. Finally, they were ready to go back on the car.
Ultimately, the task of restoring Big Red calipers is a timely one, so it’s not a cheap job, albeit something that can be done at home if you’ve clean facilities and plenty of patience to properly prepare the calipers. As Ian explains:
“95 per cent of any paint job is all about prep. Paint doesn’t hide bad jobs, it exacerbates them, so it’s crucial you spend good time getting that first and crucial part right.”
The brake pads were then fitted back into their respective calipers (components from each hub were kept in their own boxes for straight-forward reassembly) and the calipers mounted back on the car. After a fit, bleed and road test, the car was good to go, ‘Big Red’ refurbishment complete.
I am so chuffed with the result. As I say, ‘Big Red’ brakes are an iconic element of Porsche design, and I’m relieved that’s what I’ve finally got residing inside my C4S’S rotors. I am delighted. Thanks to the team at Poole Accident Repair for a stellar job in refurbing the calipers to a very high standard, and to Ian for letting me shadow him for the job. I’ve learned a lot! I’ve also realised I need new lug nuts, as the rust on the current set is now at odds with an otherwise immaculate wheeland-tyre setup beneath the wide body of my beautiful 996 Carrera 4S.