High-fashion brake calipers will be one of the next frontiers in automotive design, as big, low-profile tires and open-faced wheels grow more common, and Brembo is working to get there first.
The manufacturer of advanced lightweight brakes already makes calipers in more than 100 colors, including 12 shades of red, Brembo North America President and CEO Dan Sandberg said.
For years, bright-red Brembo calipers were a badge of honor for performance cars. Now automakers are using them for more targeted purposes. For instance, Porsche wants lime green calipers for its hybrids.
If you don’t think much about brakes, the caliper is the clamp that closes on a plate-like disc to slow a wheel’s rotation, and with it the car. Friction between the caliper and disc make brakes very hot. Brembo built its reputation with materials and designs that can survive and dissipate the heat so the brakes keep working, even when you use them hard on a twisty race track or going down a long hill.
The bright-red calipers with “Brembo” printed on them became a status symbol first, and now a fashion statement.
“There’s more and more interest in new colors from automakers,” Sandberg said.
Chevrolet Corvette buyers have a choice of six colors, while Brembo color-matched calipers to the orange stripe on 50th anniversary Chevy Camaro.
In an unusual move for a parts supplier, Brembo had a booth in a prime spot by the entrance to the recent New York auto show. A wall lined with dozens of calipers attracted attention from kids who wanted their picture taken with it and manufacturers who asked for samples.
The next step is intricately shaped calipers that save weight by having more metal at stress points and less, or even open spaces, elsewhere. The first examples look like pieces of architectural design. Supercar maker Pagani chose one for the $2.6 million Huayra BC.
“It’s jewelry for your car,” Sandberg said.