Several months ago we had the pleasure of attending Air Ride Technologies' second annual Street Challenge in Cloverdale, Indiana. What's the big deal, you ask? How does driving a fleet of performance vehicles outfitted with ART's complete line of suspension components sound to you? We're not talking slug-infested cruises. We're talking about stabbing the throttle wide open, banging gears, and pushing the cars to the ragged edge at Putnam Park's 1.87-mile road course! It's the same track used by many IndyCar and NASCAR teams for private testing, and we had a chance to experience it firsthand.
Taking it a step further, Air Ride president Bret Voelkel made sure we were given the opportunity to test a stone-stock '67 Camaro before and after installing the Street Challenge AirBar system. The majority of the work was done prior to our arrival, namely any necessary welding, wiring, and mounting of the air compressor, but none of this prevented us from driving with the factory suspension.
Now before you go thinking that air-suspension cars are only for showboaters and car show enthusiasts who want the in-the-weeds stance, you couldn't be further from the truth. It's more than just cool factor. These days, air-suspended vehicles are proving to be serious performers on and off the streets, giving complete adjustability to both ride height and quality. Better yet, don't just take our word for it. Read on to see what Air Ride Technologies' AirBar system is and how well it performs. That's right. We've got the proof in numbers.
The new AirBar system removes the rear leaf springs and transforms the suspension into a four-link without cutting or fabbing. Ride height is generally dropped by 2 inches and as much as 6 inches when the airbags are completely deflated.
You get complete control of the suspension at the touch of a button. Each button represents one of the four corners, allowing the end user to increase or decrease the pressure. It also features an LED display to show the exact air pressure within each bag.
Every system is unique, given the wide variety of options to choose from, right down to air compressor. The larger compressors come in handy if you're constantly fiddling with the air pressure; however, bear in mind that some vehicles will have space limitations.
See the dude with the curly hair? That's Boris Said, famed NASCAR Busch Series driver who's won big-time events like the Rolex 24 and SCCA Showroom Stock GT National championships. More recently he took the pole and finished runner-up in the Busch event in Mexico City. Lucky for us, Said was our test pilot for the day and even took the time to give wannabe drivers like us a good scare or three around the road course.
Up front, the spring perch must be enlarged with a Sawzall or plasma cutter.
If you can't weld, you'll want to find a friend who can. The upper bars need to measure out to91/4 inches, center to center. Bolt the axle tabs onto the upper arm, center the axle, then weld the tabs into place.
The pinion snubber and mount have to be removed to accommodate the AirBar system's upper cradle. Once in place, it's just a matter of drilling 5/16-inch holes along the mounting points and installing the self-tapping 3/8-inch bolts.