Monday, February 13, 2017

Lokar E-Brake Overview & Install – Mostly Good, but…..

Lokar is well known for a host of innovative, nice looking and top quality hot rod and muscle car components.  Quite a while ago, I decided to go with their universal emergency brake handle kit along with their premium cable kit to craft a tunnel-mounted e-brake that looked simple and unobtrusive in the car.  I looked long and hard at the many factory Ford e-brake setups out there and they just didn’t quite have the right look I was after.

A while back, I mocked up the Lokar handle as an “underhung” configuration, mainly to allow me to fabricate the slot for the mechanism in the transmission tunnel and get all of that finished before the under car bed liner coating could go on.  Unfortunately, I pretty much knew that configuration was going to present significant clearance issues to the front drive shaft u-joint if I allowed it to hand that low in the tunnel.  The fix, as it ended up, required a bit of surgery on the Lokar E-Brake frame to get the handle and cable setup to tuck tightly up into the tunnel and still operate the rear e-brake levers on the calipers (more on this later).

The cables were an off-the-shelf setup designed for the “Thunderbird” rear disk brakes according to Lokar.  This is important as the “Mustang” brake cables won’t fit the Cobra rear brake calipers correctly.  Who knew!  Ha!  Once we got this little detail ironed out with Lokar, the installation was a matter of proper routing and cutting them to the proper length to interface with the e-brake handle.  Easiest part of the job!

The final fit-up of the system was a walk in the park.  Everything bolted together like a factory setup, in spite of the fact that the Lokar installation instructions are rather “modest” at best.  Now, for the “rest of the story”:  If you have your heart set on the Lokar e-brake setup stopping or even positively securing your car in a fixed spot, you will be disappointed.  The bottom line is the handle is too short to develop enough leverage on an integrated disk brake caliper e-brake to make it much more than a symbolic gesture at the job.  This was not altogether a surprise, mind you, but it was a bit more disappointing than I expected given the otherwise top quality of every part in the kit.  That being said, this same basic setup works just fine on the drum brake combination on our 32 Ford Coupe hot rod and I suspect that has a lot to do with the fact that there is a lot more friction surface available with the brake shoes and the drum brake is “self-energizing” to a greater extent.  But, at the end of the day, for a disk brake setup with an integrated e-brake mechanism, the handle length dictates available leverage and this just ain’t got enough of it to be 100% there.

At the end of the day, I won’t change a thing for the time being and will revisit the idea of fabricating my own handle at some later date.  But for now, the spirit and intent of the system is in place and it really does look very clean.

The Lokar handle mounting scheme required a bit of modification to get the mechanism low enough in the tunnel to work as intended.  The original under hung mounting strategy that I first envisioned simply wasn't going to work.
Without modifications to drop the assembly into the tunnel slot about 3/8", the Lokar e-brake handle would not have fit quite right.  Notice how tight to the tunnel roof the pivot is.

The cable anchor bracket eventually dictated the target height of the e-brake handle.  Here, you can see how clean a simple the cable mount hardware is.

Fully fit up and in the "off" position, the entire cable mechanism is snug to the top of the tunnel and will easily clear the drive shaft.

Looking from the back of the car, the Lokar e-brake cables route nicely along the top of the tunnel.

From the tunnel, the left side e-brake cable routes to the caliper without much drama.

Left caliper showing the cable housing connection and cable end detail.

Here is the right side cable routing.  Again, simple with no drama.

Right side caliper with cable connection and end detail.


  1. Nice, neat job! I hate my 68 mustang parking brake handle, I replaced it twice and the plastic handle is cracked which means I have to replace it again. Maybe it is time to look at other means of setting the parking brake. (I have owned the car it since 76)

    1. Thanks very much!

      I would say this setup would be worth looking at IF you planned to stay with drum brakes in the rear. It's pretty minimal with discs!

    2. If this works on your 68 let me know. I just started restoring a 68 and am not a fan of the parking brake handle location either.

  2. Boy oh boy Sven. You're making record progress on Night Mission. I'd give you a few more weekends and you'll have it on the road. Nice engineering. Clean. Simple. Are you going to use a console or just use a boot around the e-brake handle?

    1. Thanks Dennis! It certainly has been a very productive several weeks! But, a few interruptions are on the horizon and the bumper build will be a very slow process. I have to get the Coupe dressed up with a new ignition system and converted to fuel injection!

    2. No console on this car! Never liked 'em. Simple boots on shifter and e-brake handles.

  3. I'm wondering if one of the newer foot-operated parking brake set ups could be modified to replace the "pull" handle. Just a thought.

    1. Looked at those actually! The mechanism would be a very big tear-up unfortunately. I think I'm eventually going to buy a spare handle and mechanism and make one!