If you are a frequent reader of Super Chevy or other car hobby publications, you're undoubtedly aware of the rise in popularity of air-suspension systems for everything from street machines to classic Chevys. They offer a very smooth ride and allow the driver to adjust the ride height of the vehicle from the driver's compartment, either remotely or from the gauge panel.
The Air Lift Company of Lansing, Michigan, is one of the oldest air-spring manufactures in the business. Their systems have been operating under vehicles since 1950. They have proven reliability, and are now developing air-spring kits for the sport truck and car hobby enthusiast. For car builders, the best thing about Air Lift is they offer all the parts needed to suspend a car on air! Easy Street Air Suspension Systems is the registered product name for the sport truck and car hobby market.
The way Easy Street's kit was designed for the '62-67 Nova (using all factory mounting holes), makes installation a snap. The skill level required to perform this job should be within the scope of most do-it-yourselfers. A 3/8 or 1/4-inch drill motor, a screwdriver, a hacksaw, a spring compressor (which can be rented) and a free Saturday (four to eight hours) is about all that's necessary. You'll only need to drill a few small holes to mount the components, and one 5/8-inch hole in each (removeable) outer coil spring cover on the front (for the upper shock mount). The doubler plate (provided) that attaches to the top of the outer coil spring cover is bolted to stock holes and can be used as a drill guide for the 5/8-inch hole to mount the shock.
Plumbing is easy with all PCT (push-to-connect) fittings. To connect the nylon lines to the pump, solenoids, air-springs, and the tank, simply use a single-edge razor blade, make a clean, 90-degree cut on the 3/8-inch o.d. nylon tube, then simply push it into the fittings.
The small (16-amp, .89 cfm) Thomas-built air pump produces 125 psi and features an external pressure switch that kicks on at anything lower than 125 psi. A reservoir tank provides the reserve air to operate the air-springs through the 12v solenoids. Four solenoids are provided with the kit, two for each end of the car. One solenoid lets air into two bags, while the other lets air out under the car and not into the driver's compartment. This is how the four-function remote raises and lowers the car. Each solenoid can be operated remotely.
The double-convoluted front air-springs are designed to support a maximum of 2,025 pounds each. When you consider that each corner of the Nova weighs approximately 700-800 pounds, there is more than enough support to hold each corner, even though the air-spring is leveraged by the A-arms.
The front spring rate, with 100 psi in the bag, is 680 psi. The sidewall of the rubber air-spring is manufactured with layers of support fabric imbedded in the 1/4-inch thick walls. When the air-spring is deflated (not collapsed) and sitting on the rubber bumper it measures around 2.8 inches, and when totally inflated about 7.7-inches. This will give about 4-5 inches of travel at the outside tire-fender position.
The rear air-spring is a tall slender bag (non-convoluted) called a rolling lobe (not shown in the photo with the front components in this four wheel kit). When deflated, the bag rolls down over a cone-shaped lower piston. This type of air-spring affords more vertical lift than the convoluted type. You'll also notice in the photos that the stock multi-leaf rear spring has been replaced with a more flexible steel mono-leaf, since the car is now suspended by the airbag. The purpose of this single leaf is to locate the rearend in the proper position under the car and let the air spring handle the ride control.
Two-inch-dropped Superior Spindles and a four-channel, programmable remote control unit (check the photo). are available options. The remote system, designed by Bill Dermond of Road Surfer, is available exclusively from Air Lift.
Since the components have been engineered for heavy-duty applications, you'll find they are over-engineered for the enthusiast market. This equates to extended service and parts life, which is good for the manufacturer and the builder.