While the ride characteristics weren't really bad, the Chevy sat with a bit of a nose-down stance. The OEM Mustang II frontend was installed (by its previous owner, Todd Gravelle) with its crossmember set to get a lower stance, but it still retains a decent amount of travel. A '56 Chevy rearend was hung with a de-leafed spring pack and air shocks, but even with the air completely drained from the shock bladders, the end sat higher than the front. While I could have easily bumped the front up a little with a taller coil, I was more content with the idea of lowering the rear, and I had a few options.
Most assumed I would airbag the rear and yank the excess leafs, but that wasn't what I was thinking. The other option was to get rid of the leaf springs altogether and to go with a four-link and airbags, but that's not what I had in mind either. After seeing Air Ride Technologies' latest ShockWave offering for rearend applications, I had the problem solved, and with the least amount of heavy work involved to boot. Air Ride agreed, and put together a kit to suit the particulars.
For the installation, the Primedia Tech Center was once again utilized. When we got all the old air shock components removed, it became even more obvious that we were looking at a cake job. Worries of the ShockWave's bag coming in contact with the rearend housing once inflated were quickly put to rest the minute they were bolted in--in the exact location as the air shocks without alteration--as there was ample room between the rearend housing and the bags. Unlike the previous style of ShockWave, which utilizes a double-convoluted airbag, these use a sleeve-type very similar to the air shock, making it so you don't have to mount the shock-bag combo way out from the rearend. Further aiding the ease of the installation, the compressor bolted right to the brackets for the old one, and even the gauge-switch panel bolted right to the dash where the old one was (albeit mounted out of sight, which makes it hard to see exactly what pressure you're running--that's what a little compact mirror comes in handy for!). The only real additional work entailed routing the air lines and fittings, wiring the solenoids, compressor, and switches, and mounting the air reservoir tank. See--cake!
After wrapping the job up, I mentioned what we'd done to a few friends, all of whom were not aware there was such a conversion available. While the cost is quite a bit more than your typical air shock setup, the benefits are well worth the extra coin. Just consider the fact that the ShockWaves include adjustable QA1 shocks, and that right there is pretty much worth the price of admission. Throw in Air Ride's new Big Red solenoids, and it's a no-brainer! The cool thing about the solenoids--no, not the noise they make like mini-truckers droppin' frame on the boulevard--is that you can get an equal amount of air in each bag with even shots of the switches. Air Ride provides their rear kit with a typical four-bag solenoid, which allows you to isolate the rears and avoid the dreaded "corner roll" syndrome. All in all, if you're looking for an improved-ride adjustable suspension for your car, this is the ticket. The ShockWaves are available in a variety of lengths and mounting options.