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Making Sense of Porsche Brake Colors

Porsche was not the first company to offer disc brakes. That honor goes to Austin Healey all the way back in 1954. Indeed, Porsche began offering disc brakes in 1962, the same year that Studebaker introduced a Bendix system on the Avanti. Despite being a bit late to the game, Porsche has always taken disc brake development very seriously. Beginning with the annular discs used on the 1962 Carrera 2, all the way through the most modern PCCB systems, Porsche has kept themselves at the forefront of brake development.

Today, Porsche offers several types of brakes across its model range. For ease of identification, these systems are color coded. Each system gets a unique caliper color to help identify which system is in use.

Black: The Basic Brake

In a modern Porsche, black calipers signify the standard brake package. In a 911, for instance, this means 350mm cast front and rear rotors with cast monobloc calipers front and rear. Incidentally, black was the first color used on Porsche brake calipers, with black cast aluminum calipers first appearing on the 928 and 911 in the late 1970s. For lesser models, this signified upgraded brakes from the often unfinished standard calipers. For example, where a standard 944 used zinc plated single piston calipers, the Turbo, Turbo S and S2 used black-finished cast aluminum calipers.

Today, black calipers are the standard brakes on any Porsche model.

Silver and Red: The « S » Brake

The standard brakes used on Porsche « S »  models come finished in either silver or red. Typically, sports cars use red calipers, while the Macan, Panamera and Cayenne use silver. This shift in colors also signifies the first brake upgrade. For instance, a base Macan uses a 345mm front brake rotor with a 4-piston monoblock caliper. Moving the S model nets both a larger disc, and a more powerful 6-piston brake caliper.

Curiously, while the colors change from model to model, this does not always signify that the brakes themselves are substantially different. For instance, both the base 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S use the same 4-piston front and rear calipers, clamping the same size 330mm front and 300mm rear brake rotors. Consult the model specification sheet for the model you are interested in to see if that particular S model includes larger brakes.

Acid Green: The Hybrid Brakes

Green brakes are used almost exclusively on Porsche hybrid models, including the 918 Hypercar. In this instance, the color of the brakes does not necessarily indicate the type of disc brake system in use. Regenerative braking is used by all but one model with green brake calipers.

The only exception to this rule is the 997 Turbo S Edition 918 Hybrid. This model was sold as an add-on for 918 Hybrid buyers, and was finished to match the 918. As such, this model uses acid green brake calipers, but does not feature a hybrid system.

Yellow: Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes

These are the top brakes in the Porsche lineup. First launched on the 996 GT2 road car in 2001, Porsche’s Carbon Ceramic discs are able withstand significantly higher temperatures than their grey iron counterparts. These brakes are formed using ceramic bonded with carbon fiber. The ceramic provides the heat resistance in the rotor, while the bonded carbon filament provides the strength.

These brakes are available in virtually all Porsche models, ranging from the base Boxster, all the way to the top 911s, Panamera and Cayenne. In addition to shedding more heat, carbon ceramic brakes weigh up to 50% less than standard brake rotors. This weight reduction decreases unsprung weight, sharpening cornering and improving ride quality.

Though they are a very expensive option, at some $7,410USD on a base Cayman and $9,210USD on a 991 Turbo, these brakes offer superior fade resistance, and an increased lifespan compared to their iron counterparts.

A short video on how Carbon Ceramic brakes are made is attached below.


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Lee’s 996 Carrera 4S diary: the first big spend

It’s been a busy period for my C4S as after five months of ownership, I’ve finally needed to spend out on something other than fuel for it. I’ve previously mentioned the car needed new brakes and tyres all round, and they’ve now been replenished after a trip to Porsche Centre Bournemouth. For the brakes I was happy to stick with an OEM-spec setup as in my view if those Big Reds are good enough for a 996 Turbo they’re good enough for a 996 C4S. I bought the brake discs and pads separately from Heritage Parts Centre last month, which arrived promptly and had been sitting at my house waiting for a gap in my diary to take the car to Porsche.

That day arrived in early September and I whisked the car over to OPC Bournemouth where it’d be under the stewardship of one Scott Gardner, whom you’ll recognize in the pictures as our very own ‘ask the expert’ from the front of the magazine. Scott had the discs, pads, wear sensors and anti squeal shims (I had to buy the latter separately) swapped over in three hours without a hitch – you do always assume with a 996 that there is going to be a hitch, be it something as simple as a sheared bolt or ripped thread, which can delay even the most simplest of tasks.

Heritage Parts Centre are new to the Porsche industry but I was very pleased with the quality of the brakes, which all married up absolutely fine into my calipers and onto my hubs. Again it sounds obvious but I’ve had wrong parts turn up from other suppliers in the past and this only leads to a frustrating scenario when work has to be stopped because the part doesn’t quite match up. This wasn’t the case here though, and Heritage Parts Centre come highly recommended from me. The brakes will take a bit of time to bed in but already I’m noticing much sharper response to brake pedal applications, which has already inspired me to push the car a little harder.

I also addressed the worn rear Continental tyres by replacing them with a set of Michelin Pilot Sport tyres all round. N4 rated (a higher ‘N’ rating means more recent tyre technology has been used), I was recommended them by a Michelin representative when I told him the car is used for shopping runs, plenty of fast road driving and the occasional track day. I’ve never actually ran Michelin tyres on any of my own cars before but have always enjoyed them on other 911s (Pilot Sport Cup 2s are surely the best road tyre ever to grace a 911) and am really looking forward to exploring their limits in the coming weeks. More on their performance will be found in a coming update.

It’s standard procedure for Porsche to health check your car while it’s on the ramps, so Scott and I had a good look around underneath the C4S once all the work was done. I was very happy with Scott’s exemplary comments as regards to its overall health and condition – he was shocked when he found out I’m the 11th owner – and his remarks has only further endorsed my decision to purchase this cracking 911 in the first place. Thanks to the guys at Porsche Centre Bournemouth for stellar service as always – now, I can’t wait to wrack up some miles with my new toys courtesy of Heritage Parts and Michelin!


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