Why No Brake Calipers on Jesse’s Jetta?
Today, we delve into the burning question – one that has baffled fanboys and newcomers to the Fast & Furious phenomena for the last few years. Truthfully, I’m baffled that so many people don’t understand that you can’t really drive a car with just one brake caliper.
So, in order to set the record straight, I’m answering that question once and for all right here. If I directed you to go this post from one of my social media posts, good for you – you’re not as lazy as some people.
First off, you have to understand what was going on behind the scenes.
When filming these movies, we had multiple copies of every major car. For my Supra for example, we had three identical clones. Clones are needed for use as stunt cars. It went like this:
The prettiest, shiniest, most modified version of my Supra was my actual car which was called the “Hero 1” car.
We made a clone of that car as back up and dubbed it the “Hero 2” car. This car is used for situations where Hero 1 is not available.
Another pair of clones were dubbed “Stunt 1” and “Stunt 2.” These cars are used for all the crazy stunt work we do.
This was exactly the case for all the cars in the first two movies – including the Jetta.
The Hero 1 Jetta (pictured above and below, here) was a highly modified car. If you look closely, the Hero 1 car did in fact have meaty-looking brakes. They were 13 inch rotors, but the giant 19 inch wheels make them look a tad small.
But, as you might have guessed, the Stunt Jettas did NOT have the 13 inch brake kit. Why not? Why put $2000 of brakes on a car that we’re going to destroy?
Since we’d be doing close-ups of the wheel during Jesse’s big race scene, we needed to make the Stunt car look like the Hero car – and the stock 10 inch brakes looked absolutely ridiculous behind the giant 19 inch wheels.
To pull this off, we used an old trick borrowed from muscle cars and mini-trucks – fake rotors. This concept was nothing new. It’s been around for decades but since many of my readers weren’t even born yet, I see where the confusion comes from.
What you’re looking at in this next picture is a fake rotor that sits behind the wheel, but in front of the brake caliper. This trick was very popular in the tuner market in the early 2000s when many tuner cars didn’t come with four wheel disc brakes.
Even today, you can stil buy fake rotors. They even come in different colors like red and blue.
There was in fact a regular brake caliper and a regular rotor sitting BEHIND the fake rotor as show in the next picture.
In short, we faked the stunt car with a fake rotor to make you think we were using the Hero 1 car.
Why didn’t we use the Hero 1 car instead of modifying the Stunt car’s brakes? Simple. Owners of the Hero 1 car do NOT want their cars abused. Doing burnouts with an automatic four cylinder Jetta can only be done with lubricant and a neutral-to-drive slam. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.
Further, in many cases, the Hero 1 car could be 50 miles away on the set of the 1st Unit. Production crews are divided into two units – 1st Unit for when the actors are being filmed and 2nd unit for stunts. Sometimes actors will bounce back and forth between sets. On this day, ther Hero 1 car might have been being used on 1st unit for interior shots, insert shots or green-screen use. Because of these reasons, we built multiple cars and stunt cars are ALWAYS the first choice for action sequences.
WHAT WE DIDN’T KNOW
When I think back about how little I knew about cars when I was 14, It’s humbling. I have to remind myself daily that many of my followers are young or have little or no experience with working on cars.
As such, I look back at the things we didn’t know when we were younger and realize that my Instagram followers are varied — some are probably young and don’t yet know much about cars. Some are expert mechanics. Others are somewhere in between and because of the varied audience, I need to answer questions in better detail so as to make sure everyone can understand what it took to build these cars and the reasons behind our choices.
While my answers may sometimes seem short, it’s only because a) I work for a living and b) I can’t take the time to teach people about basic car repair or modifying and c) Google can answer 99% of your mechanical questions faster than I can.
Anyway, I wanted to show you a better picture of how this all works, but from a different angle.
If you look carefully, you can see it – the wheel, then the fake rotor, then the hat (hidden) then the real caliper attached to the real brake rotor.
Common sense should dictate that if you’re only applying braking force to one side, the car will pull violently in that direction. If you’ve ever raced shifter karts and lost braking on one side, you’d know exactly what I mean. If you’ve ever flown in a jet aircraft and lost and engine, you’ll quickly learn a new word: yaw. (Google it.)
I hope this post clears up any lingering confusion and the next time someone asks you this question, please, PLEASE send them the link to this post.