98-00 Lexus LS400 Brake Caliper Conversion on 92-00 Lexus SC300/SC400
One of the most sought after modifications in the SC community is swapping the stock brake calipers for either the 98-00 Lexus LS400 front brake calipers or any MKIV Twin Turbo Toyota Supra front and rear brake calipers. There are a number of reasons why it would be a good idea to do either. Both options are made of cast aluminum, which means both are much lighter and is a natural heat sink, and does not heat up as much as the OEM, which is made of cast iron. Both designs are also fixed calipers, more commonly used for performance and reliability while the OEM are a floating or sliding type. Both also have a total of four pistons on each side for the front brake calipers, and utilize a bigger brake disk, which translates to more surface friction, which means more braking power. The only difference with either is the price. Since the Toyota Supra’s book value is way up there, a used set of the front brake calipers alone can cost anywhere from $500-700+, brand new can be bought for $1500+ from the dealership, and the rear set goes for $300+. While the LS400 brake calipers go for $200+ used, if you’re lucky enough like I was, I found mine for roughly a $150 from a local junkyard.
Personally, I have had both setups. In the past, I had the LS400 front brake calipers in my SC400. Presently, I have the entire TT Supra brake caliper set on my SC300. Both performed great, if compared to the stock braking power. The LS400 brake calipers provide a smooth luxury feel braking power. While the TT Supra brake calipers is just brutally sporty braking power. Well, there is that rear fixed type brake calipers in the mix for the TT Supra set, fully equipped with those red Hawk pads and the SC300 is like a 100 lbs. lighter than the SC400, but it is still, hands-down, way more powerful brakes I have ever had in any of my SC’s. It can literally stop you in your tracks, like nothing.
When doing this modification, it is always a good idea to rebuild the brake calipers first since its still off the car, regardless of the condition, and since the rebuild kit is only $20-25 from the dealership. (See 98-00 Lexus LS400 Brake Calipers Rebuild article.)
First order of business is to take out the entire OEM brake calipers with the brackets. Since the purpose of doing this conversion is to increase braking power, this would also be a great time to change the brake lines to braided stainless steel brake lines for added durability and performance. The conversion is straight forward, and the minor details that needs to be addressed will be highlighted in this article.
After taking the OEM brake calipers off, you will have to do something about the dust shields first before you can install the bigger brake disc and brake calipers on to the hub. Some people cut the edge off, some completely remove it and others just replace it with the matching dust shields for their brake calipers. I chose to remove the dust shields back then, since replacing it requires to take the hub off of the wheel bearing. I used a sheet metal scissors to cut the dust shield, and mangled it in the process of removing it. There's no problem in taking it out other than getting the brake dust all over your wheels and wheel well.
This is what I was left to work with.
A lot of people who have done this conversion talked about filing a small part that hits the hub on the mounting points. As you can see in this pic, it is very minimal.
Here it is before filing.
And that is all it takes to make it sit properly on the hub.
Another issue people had, was the longer bolts, the OEM brake calipers used, would hit the disc brake once fully tightened. Most people chose to use washers to space it out a tad bit, but I wanted to do it the right way, and for less than $5, I just bought the bolts Toyota used for the LS400 brake calipers. As you can see, the difference in length is not even perceivable.
Here is a hint of the part number for the proper bolts.
I paired a zinc coated slotted brake rotors with my LS400 brake calipers conversion. After a few miles of driving, the brake pads take off the zinc coating of the surface it makes contact with. Everything else is left with protection from corrosion and doesn't end up looking rusty.
Here is the end product on my old SC400.
Disclaimer: Use at your own risk. If you don't feel comfortable doing a procedure then don't do it. This information is to be used as a guide and is for illustration purposes only. By no means is my site a definitive source for the procedures listed; it is simply how I or the tutorial contributor did things. The tutorial contributor, and I are not responsible in any way for anything that happens as a result of following these guides.
Safety First: When working on your car put safety first. Use common sense and be careful. If you're doing electrical work disconnect the battery. If you need to jack up the car use jack stands and wheel blocks. Common sense is the key.