Front Brake Upgrade?!

New CLK430 Rotors

I don’t know whether you would consider this an upgrade or a downgrade, but swapping the CLK55’s front rotating assemblies for a set of CLK320 brakes and wheels will definitely make the car quicker at the dragstrip.

I’ve been running the heavy 18″ Mercedes-Benz E55 wheels on all four corners of the CLK55, which look great, but they aren’t be best for drag racing. Each corner weighs-in at over 50 lb, leaving a lot of room for improvement. The factory CLK320 wheels are the hot ticket for drag radials on the rear, but they also make a good low-budget “front runner”. They only weigh about 13 lb each (because they’re forged), and at 7″ wide you can fit a fairly narrow tire on them. I bought a pair of inexpensive V rated 205-60/16 tires that can be used as daily drivers, while still saving a good amount of weight for the track.

The problem is you can’t just slap a set of the 16″ wheels on the front of a CLK55 because the front brakes are too big, so I “downgraded” the brakes to the CLK320/430 units. I got a pair of calipers from the junk yard and a new set of pads and slotted & drilled rotors. While I was in there I removed the sensors and backing plate to shed another pound or two.  The result is a nice, clean setup without any extra crap getting in the way.   I also removed the front sway bar for another 20 lb savings. I was a little concerned about driving on the street without it, but I drove the car to work all week (~40 miles round-trip) and it feels pretty normal. In fact, it’s quieter now that there are four fewer bushings to squeak!

CLK430 Front Brakes on CLK55
CLK430 Front Brakes on CLK55

Weight Savings

Rotating Weight (lb)BeforeAfterTotal Savings
Wheels/Tires (each)54.234.240 lb.
Rotors (pair)38.633.25.4 lb.
Non Rotating Weight (lb)
Calipers (pair)38.612.226.4 lb.
Sway Bar20020 lb.
Grand Total:91.8 lb.


I actually bought all the stuff to do the front and rear brakes and wheels, but I broke out only the front axle for this article.

Calipers – Used$41.96
Pads & Hardware$65.25
Rotors –  Slotted & Drilled $126.00
Mount & Balance, valve stems (Local Firestone)$63.76
Lug Bolts (black)$15.99
Total Cost:$785.14

One thought on “Front Brake Upgrade?!

  1. Mad props Joe, shes looking good. Love what you have done, cant wait to see your time slips from the track. I actually have a W211 500 Chassis to save on weight with the brakes and other things as well, hope to get things rolling soon with it.

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