In Parts One and Two of our "Project Escalade Masquerade" (June and August 2002 issues) we showed you how we turned an aging '93 two-door Chevy Tahoe into a Cadillac Escalade look-alike (or "Chevylac" as tech editor Saul Vargas calls it). To give the truck even more of a "luxury SUV look," we also added a set of chrome 22-inch KMC V-2 rims and P305/40-ZR22 Nitto high-performance radials.

However, with the increased "un-sprung" weight of the larger rims and rubber, plus a rear amp and bass speaker enclosure and the fact that the Tahoe tows a lowrider, we felt that the factory brakes were less effective than we'd like (read that: unsafe.) So, we decided to improve the Tahoe's stopping power by installing Stillen Brake Pro's new Statix front disc brakes and converting the rear drum brakes with their rear disc conversion kit.

Stillen Brake Pros is regarded as a pioneer in developing high-performance brake systems like Stillen Big Brakes for street vehicles using massive 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers. "As a well-known supplier of upgraded performance brake systems, we have received countless phone calls over the years for an affordable direct bolt-on brake upgrade for GM and Dodge full-size trucks and sport utility vehicles," stated Stillen Brake Pros manager, Dan Ciganovich. "The Statix brake systems were developed to be affordable, while greatly improving brake performance."

The Statix brake system includes a larger slotted rotor and utilizes a large patented piston designed to eliminate premature pad wear and under-braking. The massive (33-percent larger than OEM) "kidney-shaped" piston delivers noticeably improved braking power over stock and promotes even wear for longer pad life. Patented greaseless self-lubricating bolt guides in the (red epoxy painted) calipers ensure proper float and even distribution braking force.

Statix was put to the test using a '99 Chevy Suburban reducing stopping distance by 68 feet and delivering 70-percent more brake torque over the OE caliper in the Hot Performance sequence. Another benefit is that the Statix brake system requires no vehicle modifications.

Of course, converting rear drum brakes to disc brakes provides a measurable improvement in any vehicle's braking ability, but it's a must on a heavy truck. The ABS-compatible Stillen rear disc conversion kit (for late model GM and Dodge trucks and SUVs) features aluminum bodied OE-designed 45mm single piston calipers, cross-drilled and vented 312x26mm rotors, aggressive FF-rated material pads, Banksia parking brake incorporating drum-style patented single hoop style shoes with automatic pad wear adjustment and all nuts, bolts and hardware for a simple bolt-on installation.

In our "seat-of-the-pants" braking tests, the Statix front brakes combined with the Stillen rear disc conversion reduced the Tahoe's stopping distances even more--perhaps the difference between life and death in a panic stop situation. We experienced a real improvement in the "feel" of the brakes; less pedal pressure was needed to engage the brakes with more "linear" braking. They don't grab at all.

All Stillen brake kits come with detailed installation instructions. Contact them for specific applications. To make sure that the work was done right, we went to Stillen's Installation Center at corporate headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. The Installation Center is a retail facility, staffed with experienced pros who specialize in custom high-end brake, suspension and performance engine work on trucks and cars--by appointment only. For now, follow the photos as Kent Horton shows just how simple Stillen makes it to upgrade the most important part of your truck or SUV--the brakes.