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Need Help Selecting Brake Shoes for my '61 Catalina


New member
Hi everbody: I'm new to the forum and Pontiac ownership. I recently bought a '61 Catalina Sport Coupe from a friend of mine's dad. It has stock manual drum brakes. First thing I want to do is make sure I have the best brake shoes possible on it. I am planning to add a power brake booster set up from Master Power Brakes later. There are many choices of brake shoes, but other than Raybestos organic, their composition details are lacking. The car has '63 style 8 lugs on it. My thought is to use semi metallic shoes for a little better stopping and better heat pull out of the hubs rather than organic shoes. The car is not going to see a lot of miles and I live near Ft. Worth, TX so hot weather is more of a concern than cold. It sure needs to have the best brakes it can. It was a little scary the first time I drove it. Any suggestions with specific part numbers for both front and rear shoes would be most appreciated.


Staff member
Considering the possible difficulties in finding new drums for that car I would stay away from anything semi metallic. If the brakes were worn and out of adjustment I'm sure it wasn't fun getting it to stop. I would go with the organic and make sure everything is correctly set up. Good luck with the car.


Belleville MI
I agree, if you ever have to have those 8-Lugs relined, at over $500 each. You would live with the slightly longer stopping distance. Just remember those are a 50 year old brake design. They will never work as well as even a cheap modern economy cars with 4 wheel disc's. It is just a fact. I would keep the 8-lugs on it. Best looking wheel & drum design ever IMO, that and I think 61 was the 1st year they were actually available from the factory. If they are original to the car, that is a rare option.


The ONLY thing you should even consider is ++ N.O.S. ++ ASBESTOS ++.
Unfortunately, they have been illegal to manufacture for many years now, due to Asbestos Laws.... But is still, the only smoooooothest braking surface known to mankind.
I have a couple sets for the Fronts ONLY and no sets for the Rears -- found 3 sets three months ago -- but had 3 people on the waiting list....All gone the second I "scored" them....
Always best to simply call me -- Craig -- 516 - 485 - 1935...... New York.