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There May Be No Stopping Some Classic Cars

To coexist on today's highways and byways, upgraded braking systems might be the answer

Whether the classic car is one that is still in the hands of the original owner or an heirloom passed down in the family, one salvaged from the neighbor’s back yard, a barn find or a fresh restoration, one common thread links all the old survivors.

It is the passion that the person, whether the new owner or the longtime owner, has for his or her faithful old friend.

More and more in today’s world of high-tech and fast pace, the classic car can provide its driver or admirer a bit of reflection or nostalgia, or maybe a sense of uniqueness in an otherwise line of cookie-cutter, foreign-produced vehicles.

From the sleek cars of the 1930s and ‘40s, the horsepower and fins of the ‘50s, the durable models of the ‘60s, to the last of the great cars in the ‘70s, one common flaw (for most of them anyway) links these, as well: They don’t stop all that good.

Now, hold on before getting all defensive about your classic baby, let’s remember a couple of things. Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, there were a lot fewer cars on the road. And the ones that did share the highways at that time were created in similar fashion in the technology available at the time.

If they went 70 mph, it wasn’t for a very long period of time. And they all basically shared the same ability as far as stopping distance. The stopping distances improved in the 1950s and ‘60s, but the roads themselves were the bigger improvement.

Fast forward to the new millennium. These days, we now have a whole lot more modern vehicles, going at higher speeds for short and long distances, with greatly improved braking and handling systems, capable of bringing precious cargo to a halt at half the distance than they did just a couple of decades ago.

Our classic beauties with all of their grace and style just can’t compete with this, at least not with their original brake system.

There are many brake system upgrades available now for just about any of the old cars for a minor investment, monetarily speaking. For a relatively small amount, we can greatly improve its stopping power, not to mention the improved confidence for the driver and passengers.

As we see more and more of these old friends emerging from garages and barns, it is strongly suggested that you think about upgrading your classic car’s braking system. Your car — and the car in front of you — will thank you.

— Bob Seagoe is the owner of Superior Brake & Alignment, 822 N .Milpas St. in Santa Barbara. For more information, call 805.962.1417.

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