Can I buy AP Racing by Essex Brake Kit components separately?12.16.2020
The brakes on your car are a system, bringing together an array of critical components that must work together harmoniously to provide optimal performance. When we design a custom brake kit for a particular chassis, we take a long list of factors into account and produce a final product on par with the systems we supply to professional race teams. You can learn more about how we design our systems in our learning center video: “Know Brakes 6: How we Design and Build Essex Brake Kits”. Our design process isn’t as simple as grabbing a bunch of random brake parts and throwing them into a box!
In many of the ‘Frankenstein’ brake setups our customers have shown us over the years, the calipers had the wrong piston sizes, the disc hats weren’t designed to allow proper float, or the caliper brackets required ‘massaging’ with a torch to even fit them on the car. The pads didn’t fit the calipers or sit on the discs properly, or the brake lines were too short to turn the wheel to opposite-lock without straining the fittings. Some of these brake abominations would not only perform poorly if installed, they could also be downright dangerous.
The conversations during which these brake setups are presented to us typically start with, “I found a great deal on a pair of used OEM calipers from a ______ (fill in the blank with the vehicle of your choice).” The owner then explains that all they need are ‘a few bits and pieces’ from Essex and they will have the killer brake package of their dreams. While these situations usually arise from an honest attempt at saving a few bucks, they almost always end poorly for the vehicle owner. They ultimately wind up wasting a ton of time and money, and the result is never as good as what they hoped for or needed.
Essex customers enjoy a complete solution.
As noted above, brakes are a system. Any weak link in the system could spell problems for the driver, particularly under the conditions in which most of our customers drive. The best caliper in the world is not going to work effectively on a racetrack when mated to a scrap-iron disc. As such, Essex strives to provide the most complete solution possible, and anyone installing an Essex/AP Racing brake system can be fully confident about each component in the box. Every detail from the coatings to the quality and specification of the hardware is considered, and we don’t employ any shortcuts to save cost. We also carefully control the flow of our kit components from the time they are manufactured until the eager customer rips open the packaging. Both AP Racing and Essex have several layers of quality control procedures in place on both sides of the Atlantic to help ensure that the final product you receive is correct and worthy of the hard-earned money you spent on it. Finally, when you open one of our Essex brake kit boxes, everything you need is enclosed. You won’t have to purchase parts from other suppliers or make a run to your local auto parts store mid-install, and you certainly won’t have to wonder if they will perform.
AP Racing by Essex Brake Kits are truly custom by application.
Another reason why our brake kit components can’t be intermingled with others, including standard AP Racing components from other sources, is that many of the components in our kits are manufactured explicitly for Essex Parts Services. Our Radi-CAL Competition Brake Kits for several Porsche 911 models provide the perfect example. To ensure the proper torque output for our intended applications, AP Racing produced a special run of CP9660 calipers for Essex that have smaller pistons, which we call the CP9661. While standard AP Racing CP9660 calipers would technically attach to our caliper brackets on some applications, the resulting brake torque output and performance would be completely wrong for those particular vehicles.
For certain applications we also make small modifications to standard AP Racing calipers to ensure proper fitment and performance. The AP Racing CP8350 caliper is a great example, which we use for numerous platforms. We use a shorter or longer caliper boss depending on the fitment. While the calipers in our kits may outwardly appear identical to an off-the-shelf AP Racing caliper you could find in a different part of the world, there may be crucial differences. Those differences may prevent the brake system from performing properly, and the caliper may not even bolt to our bracket.
The brake discs in our systems are also unique. For many of our applications, we’ve had AP Racing produce a new design that specifically meets the customer demands for the North American market. Based on concerns such as popular wheel fitments, cooling behavior, and thermal capacity, certain chassis have requirements that fall outside of the components in AP’s standard parts bin. If you scour AP’s catalog for 372x34mm, 72 vane racing discs, you aren’t going to find any, despite their inclusion in our Competition Brake Kit range.
After reading the above you may be thinking to yourself, “Do I really want custom parts?” The answer to that question is a firm ‘yes’. In fact, getting custom parts, specifically designed for your vehicle, is the whole point! The custom nature of these components, designed and implemented by our experienced engineering staff, is what ensures their proper integration and performance. We also purchase those components from AP Racing and inventory them in large volumes in our Charlotte, NC warehouse. That ensures both a palatable price due to economies of scale, as well as a continued stream of quickly available spares for many years to come.
Essex strives to provide a positive long-term ownership experience.
Essex has long been the exclusive North American importer and distributor for AP Racing competition products. As such, many enthusiasts and racers in our region view Essex as the go-to for all things AP Racing.
For North Americans using any type of AP Racing component, their first phone call for help is to Essex. Unfortunately, when they call us about a problem with their ‘AP Racing brake kit’, we sometimes find that we can’t provide the level of customer service they require. Those situations typically occur when the customer has a pair of second-hand AP Racing calipers mated to an array of brake components from other manufacturers. In those cases, it is nearly impossible for us to properly diagnosis their issues, since we have no idea what we’re even dealing with. We don’t know if those other components were designed properly, are up to the task of the owner’s intended usage, where and how they were manufactured, or if they were manufactured properly. Although we do our best to help find a solution, we’re essentially flying blind. Without being intimately familiar with all the components in the system, we cannot provide the owner with a satisfactory level of troubleshooting. We’re tasked with solving issues an AP Racing product didn’t create, and the situation culminates in frustration for all parties. The owner ends up frustrated since we can’t help them remedy their issues, and we’re frustrated because we want to help them but can’t! These situations can also unfairly damage the reputation of the Essex and AP Racing brands.
As you can see, there are a multitude of reasons why we do not sell our brake kit components individually. We're all racers and enthusiasts at Essex, and we've all experienced our share of poor-performing products. We don't want any of our customers to share that experience. We would rather supply you with a complete, custom solution that surpasses your needs and expectations in every way possible.
Written by Jeff Ritter