Since the introduction of Chinese-built reproduction brake boosters decades ago, there has been a glut of imported, cheap reproductions available to GM muscle car owners. But as these beloved Camaros, Chevelles, GTOs and Impalas change hands between generations, sometimes their new owners don't know how to spot real vs fake brake booster, an imported vs an American made one.
Two Telltale Signs
One sign to look for is the triangular-shaped impressions. The triangular impressions in the original boosters (right) are much softer and smoother than the lines of the reproduction brake booster (left) which are sharper and more distinct.
A second indicator is that the font used in the Delco Moraine stamp doesn't match the original. In the fake brake booster (left), there are obvious breaks in the "O" and the lettering looks different than the genuine booster (right).
Should You Restore Your Brake Booster Or Use a Reproduction?
Now that you know how to spot a fake, the question still remains: should you invest the time and money in restoring your original brake booster (or buying one that's been rebuilt) or save some cash and buy one of the millions of cheap reproductions available?
There are three factors to consider: cost, performance and authenticity/aesthetic.
Cost: If money is your main determinant, then you can no doubt find a reproduction brake booster kit, which are all made offshore, for significantly less that it would cost to have yours restored. You'll probably save a couple hundred bucks by buying a knockoff.
Performance: Reproductions tend to have a high failure rate. Some owners have gone through several repro boosters trying to find one that works, and since vendors don't usually offer warranties on them, they're out the expense each time. In contrast, restored boosters almost never come back to Brake Boosters. That's because they're built better to begin with and we carefully test them before they leave our shop to ensure they're operating properly.
Authenticity/Aesthetic: Finally, you have to ask yourself what's important to you. Is your goal to keep your car as true to its original condition and materials as possible? Do you plan to show your car? (Some complain reproduction boosters are easy to spot even if you're not planning on having it judged.) Or, is your goal simply to have a beautifully restored GM car when you're done and if you have to cut a few corners here and there, that's okay?
Based on your answers to these three questions, you'll probably arrive at the decision that is right for you. Not surprisingly, our personal recommendation is to spend the few hundred extra dollars to restore your original brake boosters. We're purists, of course, but it's also your brake system, so it's important to have the right part for the job.
Ultimately, it's up to you. Just be sure to do your homework before making the decision. If you do decide to have your brake booster restored to its original condition, contact us. We use only 100% American made, original parts.