Home | Mailing List | Specifications | Care and Feeding | Modifications | Vendors | Literature

Carbotech Brake Pads

Thanks to Alan Fanning

Like Tim Wright, I also called Carbotech (Larry Narcus) this week and ordered a set of carbon metallic pads for my SHO.  Since the car is likely to be driven more by the distaff side of the family, I chose to go with the Super Street "F" compound all the way around.  I don't want them to have any surprises on cold mornings  (not that it gets that cold here in San Jose).

Larry is pretty talkative, so I felt I recouped part of the expense of the pads in knowledge (or opinions) gained.  The following may be found interesting by some of you:

- He had nothing good to say about KVR pads.  Referred to them as "Metal Masters", but didn't elaborate.  Didn't rip into Performance Friction when I mentioned that brand, tho'.

- He feels that the problems with rotor warpage are partially self-inflicted by people who stand on the brakes and then park the car, resulting in uneven cooling down.  He admits he is in the minority with this opinion but thinks proper cooling down after use (and cryogenic treatment of the rotors) may be sufficient even with the 10.2" rotors.

- He doesn't recommend the Super Street compound for aggressive track use (and I suspect that the KVR pads fall into this same category).  If you want track capable brakes, you should go with the Panther pads but along with that comes some compromises, including more noise, cold stopping worries, and perhaps other issues.  So, basically, life's a compromise (nothing new there...).

- Delivery is a little slow, hopefully by mid-June for me.  It sounds like he's gotten orders from a few of us on SHOtimes already.  Not exactly a high-production operation (thereby the relatively high pricing of ~$200 for all four wheels).  I have plenty to do in the interim, tho'.


Thanks to Sherrif Buford T. Justice

update, I spent some time talking to the owner of Carbotech Engineering this week and we both learned a lot. Larry is very helpful and been very supportive of the small SHO community for which we are all grateful.

Carbotechís toll free number is 1-877-899-5024.


Many of us have been very happy with our Carbotech brakes, but it has not been a bump free ride. V6 SHOís and some base Tauri use a slightly smaller base for the front caliber plate (601), which is incorrect for any V8 SHO. If you have 601 pads from Carbotech and they are unused, Carbotech will replace them at their cost. If the pads are used Carbotech will replace the pads at a large discount. You can check two different ways, check your invoice or see if you have a 1/8" lip of rust on the outer lip of your rotor.

Carbotech buys their brake material from Hawk. The material used for the Panther (racing) pads is not available in sizes large enough to cover a 598 backing plate so that option does not exist for the front. One could use Panther pad material on the slightly smaller 601 backing plate, but except for all-out serious racing the Panther Pads donít seem to be the optimal choice of material because their optimal operating temperature range is well above what a SHO experiences even in harsh street conditions. Unless your commute involves repeated panic stops from well above 100 mph you just would not be happy with the additional dust, rotor wear and noise.

Actually the OE Ford pads for all V8 SHOs do a respectable job for almost all "reasonable" street use. A few of us with greater needs (a very few of us exceed the speed limit on streets from time to time) have developed an affection for "Street-F" pads from Carbotech. They have a modestly lower upper temperature than Panther pads limit but should still manage one panic stop from 190 mph, an ability few of us will ever require.

From the chart below you can see 96-97 SHOs use a 598 size front pad and a 610 size rear pad, which for both axles costs about $200. Technically the 98-99 SHO use a 765 pad which was the same footprint (4.64" x 2.17") as a 598 but the backing metal plate is 20/1000" thicker, the total pad thickness is the same so 96-97 get almost 1/32 more usable wear material.

It is a wash either way, because 598 should work for any year V8 SHO and the 765 backing plate just is not available.

Year SHO Brakes

Front PN

Backing plate thickness

List Price / axle set

Rear PN

List Price / axle set


CT 598-P



CT 610-P






CT 610-P


After specifying the correct front pads the rear pads situation is simple, they will always be 610ís. Using the same pad material on both axles keeps the proper front-rear balance and would be the preferred method of changing over.

Without warping or over cutting problems a single cryogenic rotor should last for 3 sets of Street-F pads. A non- cryogenic rotor will not last nearly as long. For many folks a pair of front cryogenic rotors will last the life of the car, +100,000 miles. It is not cost effective nor performance enhancing to get cryogenic rear rotors because they last so long even untreated and do so little work. If you are careful to properly torque your lug nuts, and never park your SHO with the rotors glowing red-hot the rotors should never warp. Uneven or excessive stud load and uneven cooling are the sure ways to warp a rotor. Do like they do in NASCAR, after your "Sunday" drive take a cool-down lap before parking a SHO that has had the brakes flogged.

Carbotech will cryo rotors you send them; or just buy new replacement Ford rotors and treat them. They donít care either way, but the bulk of the cost is not in the base rotors but in the cryogenic treatment. Each front cryogenic rotor costs ~ $100 each so add it up, $200 for rotors and $200 for pads, parts total is $400 for a cryogenic-Street F brake job. I think because the combination lasts so long and rotor life is greatly extended that the much higher parts cost is offset by reduced labor cost and less frequent rotor cutting. Getting rotors cut on the car, which is the proper way to cut rotors is labor intensive if done properly because the both the rotor and hub face must be ground clean and lateral run-out checked. If your car lasts 50% longer between brake jobs with the Carbotech set up I suspect it may be less expensive over the life of the car.

I learned a little about how brake pads are made at Carbotech and while it is high tech it is also labor intensive and a costly process. A lot of mass produced brake pads are just molded in place and baked for 20 minuets. Carbotech pads are hand riveted and bonded to the backing plate and baked for 6 hours and the "secret" is the finished pad is cryogenically treated just like the rotor for improved dust and wear performance. Each set of four pads requires about an hour of hand labor plus all the time intensive treatments, which is why it takes about a month to fill the order. The cryogenic treatment alone requires two weeks. They are a very small custom shop and it something like the way the British used to make cars until not that long ago. (Except that the frame is not made of ash and the electricals are not Lucas- thank God!)

Larry asked me about how I liked my Street F - cryogenic set up and I did tell him about the SLO that followed me off an exit ramp at the Indy convention doing about 120-mph. I made it, but the SLO "went agricultural" and may still be picking corn out of his grill. That cop had a very bad day, first the butterscotch treatment, then the "field trip". It is great feeling to be able to stop in half the distance of most cars even if you do it only once a year.

Front Baer replacement brakes require larger replacement 17" rims, and the stock brakes work fine for most placid driving. But for those souls who on occasion double or triple the posted "velocity recommendations" and desire to reduce their stopping distanced by ~1/3 ; or who just like to get on a track sometimes and brake very late; I think Carbotech is the place to shop. For some cars like the BMW M5 you just canít get after-market performance brake parts and Carbotech also caters to that market. It is kind of nice that Larry has taken a shine to our V8 SHOs as well.

One thing I forgot to talk about in my report.  Larry told me that our pads DO NOT come with squealers as per Ford specs.  Personally, I have been waiting to hear the squealers on my brakes before replacing them.  Even the guys at my brake shop (Sumere  Tire) have said "well, if you haven't heard them you must have plenty of brakes left".  Based on Larry's information, if I did heard something it would likely be metal on metal :-( 

Maybe everyone else knows this, but my guess it there are others on the list that may not be aware of this Ford shortcut.


  Contact Information