1955-1957 Chevy Air Ride Suspension - Out Gettin' Slammed

We install cool new parts from Air Ride Technologies in a bare-bones 1957 Chevy

Dakota Wentz Jan 23, 2007 0 Comment(s)
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A lot of things come and go. Whether it's in the automotive or plastic cup industry, old trends get knocked off and new trends become the "King of the Mountain." One trend that hit the scene years ago was the installation of an Air Ride Technologies system under your ride. Unlike most trends, this one has done anything but diminish. In fact, it seems every year Air Ride ups the ante with its latest products, creating an airbag phenomenon that can't be ignored. One area on which Air Ride has taken aim is the Tri-Five market. Sure, it has always had products for shoeboxes, but lately it's taken the performance, ride quality, and all-out cool factor to a whole new level.

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Before we get started, check out the Air Ride AirBAR setup fresh out of the box.

Air Ride Technologies makes performance its premier design criteria and has shifted its '55-'57 suspension program into high gear. New to the Tri-Five scene is Air Ride's latest addition to its arsenal of front suspension kits-the StrongArm kit with ShockWaves. The StrongArm and ShockWave combo is a direct bolt-in replacement of the original coil springs, shock absorber, and upper and lower control arms. The StrongArm tubular control arms are built using CNC-bent, 0.219-inch wall DOM tubing, and laser-cut bracketry to ensure lasting strength and reliability. Each individual arm is JIG-assembled and welded by certified Air Ride craftsmen. The StrongArms have been engineered to optimize suspension geometry, ball joint angles, and wheel alignment at your new lowered ride height. The proven reliability of the patented ShockWave O-ring sealing technology and new 16-position adjustable valving let you fine-tune your car for racetrack precision, comfortable cruising, or anywhere in between.

For the rear, Air Ride has added an AirBAR application to the '55-'57 lineup. The bolt-on four-link system is a direct bolt-in replacement of the original leaf springs, and requires no custom fabrication to install. The ride height of your car is typically lowered by approximately 2 inches, and the fully deflated height is typically 5-6 inches lower than stock. The area with the most improvement is the handling and cornering performance because the AirBAR eliminates the OEM leaf spring and replaces them with a four-link rear suspension. The four-link bars offer more precise positioning of the rear axle to eliminate flexing, and increase stability through the corners. The AirBAR is then equipped with the new ShockWave 7000. Like the ShockWave up front, the slender 4-inch-diameter ShockWave 7000 delivers performance, ride quality, a low cool stance, and the ShockWave O-ring allows fine-tuning.

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The first thing to do is to remove the leaf springs, shocks, bumpstops, pinion snubber, and tailpipes. If your car has an axle underneath, support it before removal. In our case the axle wasn't underneath the car.

Controlling air pressure at each corner of the car is Air Ride's latest and greatest control system, the RidePro e, was created for one purpose-to control air suspension. The system is a no-hassle one with membrane switches and digital readouts enclosed in a small case. Air Ride has made the case easily mountable because so many users are looking for that "specific" look. The control case can be flush-mounted, surface-mounted, or left unmounted. Every RidePro e system is built with the "ride height on start" feature. The preset function will automatically raise your ride to a safe, user-programmable air pressure every time it is started. The system is also plug and play. Weatherpak connections are used where the wiring harness will be exposed to the elements and all connectors are self-indexing and locking to ensure proper connection. The RidePro e system is compatible with several Air Ride compressor systems.

Like a kid in a candy store, we had to get our hands on these new products from Air Ride. We found a bare-bones '57 that is in the process of a ground-up restoration to install these cool new parts from Air Ride. Along with the AirBAR, StongArms, and RidePro e, we're also going to install the BigRed four-way air compressor system.

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Because the four-link will rub, the parking brake brackets and the rear brake line bracket on the passenger-side framerail must be removed before any installation can occur.

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When installing the AirBAR crossmember, slide it forward until it hits the edge of the body mount. Then, drill holes in the frame using the required bit and secure the crossmember in place using the self-tapping screws.




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