The stock 1200 front-disc/rear-drum system was good for 1971. In fact, stopping power was better than most 'muscle cars' of the era. However, fading under repeated hard stops was a problem as these were not ventilated rotors. But compared to modern cars ... well, they don't really compare at all -- even the cheapest new import car has better brakes than the 1973 Datsun 1200.
There are two easy ways to get better brakes. This article will discuss these methods:
- Better brake pads, using premium materials
- Simple brakes swaps requiring no machining
There is also more complicated methods, which allows you to have world-class brakes, as good as any new car. For details see Brake Swaps.
Better Brake Pads
Better brake pads can make a big difference. If you are a racer you know this. But for a street car, if you live in a hilly or mountainous area and your brakes fade, consider new pads.
Spend the money and put something good in the coupe- Pagid or Mintex 1155's etc and if you can't get them to fit your caliper then put something else on that you can get a good quality pad for.
And if anyone tells you that they are no good on the street thats simply not true - the new generation compounds work just fine from cold. Sure they get much better when hot, but are more than adequate for driving around the streets on.
reference: BENDIX ULTIMATE FRONT PADS
A booster will not improve the braking ability of the car. But you may want one so that it is a bit easier to press the brake pedal.
See main article: Brake Booster Swaps
1200 brakes work fairly well if in good shape. The drum brakes will stop as quickly as discs -- IF adjusted correctly.
1200 Disc Swap
If your 1200 has all-drum brakes, take note that disc brakes are:
- easier to work on
- More resistant to fading -- safer after repeated stops (they dissipate heat far better)
Swapping 1200 drums for discs is easy. See 1200 Disc Brake Swap.
Brake Warning Switch
Don't forget to use a brake warning switch.
Master Cylinder Choice
If you change to all front-discs, you can either use:
- master cylinder and brake-line "splitter" (warning light switch)
- The "tandem" cylinder is recommended (it has two reservoirs)
- IMPORTANT: Don't use a single outlet cylinder. It is less safe as all four brakes can fail at once. A double-outlet cylinder is safer
Remote Brake Cylinder
Reverse-Mounted Master Cylinder
Fitting an under-dash brake master cylinder is sometimes done to LHD 1200s so we can fit dual sidedraft carbs. It is legal in USA (very few states have any kind of mechanical inspection).
Take a master cylinder mount from a 510 and weld it to the top of the 1200's steering colum support. Then weld an extension to the top of the brake pedal and makee a rod to connect the master cylinder from the brake pedal.
Changing the position of the rod from below pivot point to above changes the direction from pushing out toward front of car to pushing out towards rear.
280zx master cylinder reverse mounted under dash
- A remote fluid reservoir would be easiest (e.g. Datsun F10 style)
- It only take a minute to remove dash for access
Sometimes the same is done when fitting large engines or turbo setups which leave no room for the stock master cylinder.
For more ideas, see Clutch master cylinder
To gain clearance on LHD cars with twin carbs, use a remote filler setup from circa 1976 Datsun F10.
So you've changed brake types, now has the front brakes are locking up well before the rears come into play. How can this be cured?
There are options for changing the brake bias:
- Change rear brake wheel cylinders (larger or smaller). Alternate sizes are available from Nissan motorsports. Or from stock applications. For example, the 510 rear cylinders are 7/8, but bolt in place of the stock 1200 13/16 cylinders. Note that 1200s with drum brakes already have 7/8 rears.
- Changing master cylinders will not change the bias
- Use an appropriate factory bias valve (aka NP-valve or "proportioning valve"). Note that Datsun 1200s don't use one but B210/B310 did.
- Maybe the easiest would be to buy a brake bias controller valve.
- These are available thru your local high performance shop or mail order thru Jeg's or Summit, etc. for around $50 USD.
- Some Volvos also have an adjustable valve you could use
'Changing master cylinders may change pedal feel but will not change bias. A master with larger diameter cylinder will result in a harder pedal, but less pedal travel. By contrast, a smaller diameter master cylinder will reduce required pedal foot pressure, but will increase pedal travel for a given result. Most Nissan master cylinders from the same era (1971-1982) interchange. You can locate almost any size with a cruise through your local junk yard (sizes are cast on the side of the cylinder).
The NP-valve used with USA B210 and USA/JAPAN B310 is integrated into the splitter and so serves as the circuit pressure loss safety switch.
It is functionally normally if -- during a 50km/h quick stop -- the rear the wheels lock simultaneously with front wheels, or front wheels lock first. Danger if rear wheels lock first.
46234 CONNECTOR [brake splitter] 46224 BRAKE INDICATOR SWITCH [combo splitter+switch] 46400 NP-VALVE
B210 46400-U0506 ASSY-NP VALVE 4WAY SWI,FRA,GER,SWE DEN,NOR,BEL,HOL,L UX 46400-H7200 ASSY-NP VALVE 4WAY 0974-0777 * also used by A10 wagon 46400-S0801 ASSY-NP VALVE 5WAY 0877- * also used by S110 0381-
B310 46400-W5000 VALVE ASSY-NP 5WAY EUR,COM(A14,A15) OP COM(A12) * also used by 910 0780- S
610 46400-U0506 ASSY-VALVE NP, 4 WAY -0775 46400-N3700 ASSY-VALVE NP, 4 WAY 0875-
A10 46400-N3000 NP VALVE ASSY (4-WAY) SEDAN & HATCHBACK 46400-H7200 NP-VALVE ASSY WAGON