One of the main “skills” I’ve picked up over the last seven years has been painting bits and pieces. Especially brake callipers , wheels and general touch up bits you discover when you buy high mileage or lower-priced performance cars. I’ve always loved Audi’s refinement in their older RS models but one thing I didn’t agree with was their brakes. Audi stole some monstrous 8 piston callipers from the Gallardo then painted them black so no one could see them? This was something that I felt really had to change. My first RS4 received some white upgrades, my B5 had some controversial Lime-green callipers and the Supercharged B7 received more traditional red upgrades.
The process is fairly simple I mask off the brake discs or remove them completely if carbon ceramic. Use a 400-600 grit sandpaper to rough the surface of the callipers (just enough to haze the finish allover, not so deep I gouge the paint). Next I wipe the callipers down with some form of wipe to remove all of the dust and any grease leftover. (Soap and water will also work nicely) I then mask up the pads, brake nipples and any other hardware I don’t want paint allover. I use 2-3 coats of primer in light coats and allow to dry to a perfectly smooth finish, once you’re happy with the finish it’s ready for paint. I’ve used as many as 5 light coats to get the desired depth of colour following the instructions on the can. I don’t use “very high temp” paint as I don’t track my cars , if you’re going to track your vehicle then i would encourage this. Allow the paint again to dry to a smooth finish and touch dry (around 20-30 minutes). After this you can apply any decals you wish however you must be confident in your co-ordination and placement as once they’re down and applied they’re staying there. Peel off the decal cover and you can now lacquer you’re callipers. 3-4 coats should do nicely in thin layers taking around 10-15 minutes break in between each coat. Materials cost maybe £30 or so, I tend to use 1 can of primer, paint and lacquer , a roll of masking tape and half a sheet of sandpaper at most. I can do them in as little as 2 hours but take as long as you need to get to a finish you’re happy with.
I like to live dangerously so while the final layers of lacquer and paint cure I very carefully re-fit my wheels and nuts finger-tight, then lower the car back on the floor. I like to give the callipers 24 hours or so to “cure” then I’ll apply a coating. Usually something ceramic based as you would apply to your wheels to prevent brake-dust coating them and ruining the finish. As you can see with the B5’s Lime callipers I did these completely off the car, I rebuilt them before hand which made life easier. I masked up the pistons and bleed nipples. This gave me much more freedom to apply paint from various angles for a uniform finish. My GT-R has some stunning bronze callipers, I may leave these be or at most touch up the odd paint-chip but for now they’re staying as they are. Wheels follow a very similar principle although I would recommend a plasti-dip or vinyl based paint. These are more malleable and likely to “absorb” any road debris. I did the GT-R’s factory wheels this way if you’d like an insight in how they’re done neatly.