Rear Disk Brakes


Sharpbuilt caliper brackets


The rear drum brakes I have on my beetle are working fine. They could be a little more stronger, but they are doing their job. The problem with them that they have to be adjusted every 1 or 2 years. Adjusting the drum brakes is not a real big job, but it is a job.

The real thing that bothers me that gradually the pedal must be pushed deeper and deeper until the time comes to adjust the brakes again. In other words, the pedal doesn’t allways feel the same. Now I know that the 1303 was delivered from factory in some countries ( I believe Sweden was one of them) with self-adjusting drum brakes. But, I also heard the system is prone to failure.

Switching to rear disk brakes also solves this problem, AND it should improve the stopping power of my beetle.

Now, there are off the shelf, bolt-on kits available in the market. But the problem with those is that the parts of it aren’t generic. It means that when the pads are worn, or a caliper gets stuck, you’ll have to buy replacements at a specialize VW beetle shop. And hope that they still stock parts for that rear disk kit.

That is the reason that I want to build a rear disk setup using parts that are better available. One problem I allready encounterd is that I want to stay with my 4 x 130 bolt patern. I want to keep using my ATS aloy wheels, which are 4 bolt.

I read on the internet that some people used Porsche 914 disk brakes (4 x 130 bolt patern) mounted on a machined VW beetle drum combined with Volkswagen Golf (Rabbit) rear calipers.

See this page, for example (they use Ford calipers, but the idea is the same):

And on this same thread, a company called Sharpbuilt also uses 914 rear disks, but then with Volkswagen Golf calipers: The Samba Thread – Using Alternative rear Disk Brakes

I ordered the caliper brackets from the Australian company Sharpbuilt (see: Sharpbuilt site for more info). And I received them after two weeks here in the Netherlands (as you might have read in the Samba thread):

Sharpbuilt caliper brackets

Now I have to buy some Porsche 914 rear disks and two VW Golf rear calipers.

Update 01-11-2009:I bought a pair of used rear VW Golf IV calipers:


They are a bit dirty, they need some cleaning. But they are not stuck. They came with the caliper brackets, but I can’t use them. I have to get some VW Passat caliper brackets.

I also found this nice drawing of the measurements of a Porsche 914 rear disk:


This might be usefull when I have to get my drums machined.

Update 05-12-2009: I got a new set of Porsche 914 rear disks. These are the sport version, which means that they have holes drilled into them. The sport version was 10 euros cheaper on ebay then the normal version.. 🙂

These are made by Zimmermann:

(Zimmermann part number: 460.1007.50, Porsche part number: 91435240110)


Now I can start dismantling the rear brakes, see the next page.


  1. I really like the website. Very informative. Great work on the car. My question is about the calipers. What year golf did they come from or are they all the same.

    • Hi Heath,
      I don’t know for which year they are. I just searched for rear brake calipers for a VW Golf IV.
      I assumed they were all the same… but I am not sure if they are.


  2. Hey Gerrelt,
    Thanks for the reply. I ended up going with 08 beetle calipers. They fit on the empi brackets perfectly. I would like to change the brackets to something with the same 0 offset as the empi brackets so I could buy the pads at the local parts store. Maybe Passat. Not sure. The 08 beetle calipers are much better than the empi calipers. The empis were thin and were flexing which caused the outer pad to not make up fully with the disc and was causing much noise and vibration. Next i’m going to add wildwood calipers to the front. I have the brackets orderd now. I’ll have a video up on youtube soon on the brake conversion. Ringo774. Thanks for the reply. Later

    • Yeah, I’ve read that before, the empi calipers aren’t very good apparently.
      And that’s the exact reason I used the Golf calipers too. Now I can get brakepads from the local parts store.
      I will check out your youtube channel!

  3. Hello Gerrelt,
    Thanks for this site, it is very useful. After reading it, I am doing the same rear disc brake conversion. I have one question: the Passat caliper brackets are from what YEAR of Passat? I ask because in the US, the Passat B3 was from 1988-1996, but I believe in Europe they used “Typ 3B” for 1998-2006. So it is very confusing: 3B or B3. If you know the year of the Passat the brackets came off, that would help me greatly. Thanks! -Matt in Virginia

  4. Perfect, thank you. I was working from the same (confusing) Wikipedia page. May I ask, how do you like the brake performance with this setup? And what brakes do you have in the front? My plan is to put Wilwood 4-piston calipers in front. My pedal assembly has separate master cylinders for front and rear,so I should be able to balance the front/rear brake bias by sizing the master cylinders correctly. -Matt

    • I really like this setup. I’ve got a firm pedal and good braking performance.
      In the front I have the standard VW beetle disk brakes and calipers, and I am using a standard (19mm, if I remember correctly) super beetle master cylinder.

  5. Hi,
    I own a VW 1600 beetle and plan on upgrading the rear brakes to discs. The difference is that it uses a 5 hole hub instead of 4. Any ideas as to what brake disc would suit it? Thanks in advance

    • Which 5 holel hub do you have? Is it the standard VW 5×205 pattern, or the Porsche 5×130 pattern?
      If you have the last one, you could try the 914-6 rear disk brakes. The 6 cylinder model of the 914 used a 5 lug pattern.
      If you have the first one, the VW one, then I don’t know. I believe they do sell drum brakes with Porsche pattern. You could use those to have them machined into hubs.
      In both cases, I don’t know what effect it has on the spacing for the caliper. I don’t know if the offset for the disk will be different then my situation.
      Maybe you could aks Sharpbuilt?

  6. Hi, I love your work on the rear brakes using golf parts, I’ll be doing the same. I’m wondering do I have to use the Australian shark caliper carriers or is there an English crowd selling them, thanks in advance

    • Hi Broz,

      Thank you for the kind words!
      Sorry, I don’t now of any UK compagnies selling these adapters.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.