Brembo has always been known for its red brake calipers, a mark of distinction on cars that is seen increasingly in today's open-wheel styling. Now, the Italy-based brand behind the finest lightweight devices for stopping cars is putting more effort behind broadening its palette beyond red.
At the request of high-end customers such as Porsche, Brembo now offers calipers in 100 colors, providing one more way for picky buyers to put that extra personal touch on their new vehicles. "Italians in general are artists, and those who work in the auto industry are artistic engineers," Dan Sandberg, CEO of Brembo's North American arm based in the United States, told me. "They make things that are extremely functional and they look fantastic. And that’s the Italian DNA coming through. Dodgoe Caliper
"Black is popular ... Yellow is popular, [such as] on Porsche 911," Sandberg said. "Porsche is leading the pack in this; a lime-green caliper typically is some kind of hybrid power train. It's almost an identifier of a certain level of vehicle. Land Rover typically has Brembo brakes on a lot of cars but it’s an option to get them colored.
"When you start with red, and we have a very demanding customer base, and designers get involved, they’re going to look at that vehicle to say, 'What can we do to blend with the color of the car or offset and highlight it?' So you’ll see multiple color choices. Taking a look at the highest-end Ford GT you will see six colors; [with the Chevrolet] Corvette, too. Some [brands offer] up to 12 to 15 color combinations depending on how you want to customize the vehicle. That leads to a color palette of over 100 colors."
Brembo has been growing lately along with the U.S. auto market and has a big manufacturing presence in both the United States and Mexico for making a variety of brake components, not just its signature red calipers. But the eye-catching calipers are what people remember about Brembo.
"At the end of the day if there’s anything that’s a trademark for our company, it’s probably our colored brakes," he said. "If you go to non-car people -- some of whom certainly don’t know what a brake is or especially a caliper or rotor -- if you start talking about Brembo brakes, and if they show a blank face, it’s very easy to say, 'Have you seen the red wheels in cars?' We were the first to paint a caliper and first to paint an aluminum caliper."
Brakes emblazoned with "Brembo" are sometimes priced separately, other times with a sport package, still others included as standard equipment. "They usually take a premium," Sandberg said, "and they deserve it."
Sandberg says Brembo has been offering non-red options for about ten years now, increasing the variety all along. The growing list of possibilities help car designers make the most of an important precinct of the exterior. "When I was in the wheel business, we used to say the corners of the vehicle are 30 to 40 percent of the impression that you get of the vehicle when you first look at it," he said. "You want something in that corner that looks great, and colored calipers are fantastic for that."
Still, with interest in more colors, and offering OEMs more options, Brembo isn't about to abandon its iconic red calipers. Red is still the staple. For one thing, Brembo's traditional red color is showing up on more vehicles than only the upper end. "Mid-premium or performance vehicles have our brakes, including Buicks in certain cases, and on the Kia Stinger," Sandberg said. "And those are vehicles that are well within the range of mostly everybody to buy. But they’re performance vehicles, built with design in mind, and that’s an excellent place for us to play, when an OEM wants to really show off a vehicle."
Lexus Knuckle Also, Brembo actually offers 12 different colors of red. "Red is still a big identifier and most popular color we have," Sandberg said. "But we want to provide the customer with ability to customize their vehicles, and the customer comes first."