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Camaro Air Suspension - Camairo

Air Suspension For The '93-02 Camaro

Photography by Courtesy Of Air Ride Technologies

Some people-probably a majority-who own the last series Camaro think the way it handles and rides is just fine if they think about it at all. Why not? Camaro suspension, like all OEM production car suspensions, was designed for the best combination of ride and handling possible as seen by the -average- buyer. The 18-year-old office clerk and the 55-year-old office manager, the 25-year-old shop mechanic, and the 38-year-old truck driver all get the same car and all had to be satisfied enough with it to buy one and perhaps more.

That, however, does not mean these Camaros were great handling cars with luxurious ride. Quite the contrary. If you were looking primarily for a truly comfortable ride, you probably admired the looks of the Camaro and then moved on to something a bit smoother. At the same time, a good many who are used to serious driving cars will find them to be lacking in handling. A fair-sized market in performance suspension parts has been developed for these cars and in many cases they work well. However if you combine the inherent ride/handling deficits with a dropped stance, neither ride nor handling comes out a winner.

So what can you do? Do you simply accept that if you own one of these otherwise fine cars that you can have either high-end ride or performance handling, but never both? Do you just leave the car at stock height despite your preference to slam it? Is there a better way?

In a word-YES. The factory suspension was based on conventional steel coil springs and non-adjustable shocks. Because steel springs cannot be adjusted for road conditions, load capacity, rates, or ride quality without removing one set and installing another, there's a built-in problem. Even from the factory the SS cars have stiffer suspension packages tuned for more performance-proof if you will that not even GM can change the laws of physics.

In an ideal world you could have a system incorporating variable spring and shock characteristics. That is air suspension. Air springs would be adjustable from the driver's compartment through a fairly wide range. You could raise and lower the car. You could add extra carrying capacity to tune in just enough spring to carry the load you have-not too much and not to little. You could add in stiffness to the suspension for those times when handling is the primary concern. You could also incorporate adjustable rate shocks in the system and dial in a ride/handling formula that YOU want-not what everyone else has to live with.

As they've done with quite a few others, the Air Ride Technologies crew looked at the '93-02 Camaro and decided they could engineer just such a system. Air Ride Technologies has a long history of developing conventional air spring suspensions (CoolRide) as well as ShockWave and now AirStrut systems. The R&D shop gnomes have a real enthusiasm for bringing the best out in a variety of OEM suspensions. But the key to this success is the ShockWave developed at ART. These units contain an integral air spring and 12-level adjustable race shock wrapped in billet aluminum. It's compact enough to replace the original parts without tearing up the car or requiring extensive mounting hardware.

The result is balanced and adjustable. Like all air systems with well-designed air spring/shock combinations, you can adjust purely for ride comfort by dropping air pressure a bit and adjusting the shock rate down a little. If you want to go strictly for handling, you can add air and shock rate until you achieve your preference. (Surprisingly, the Air Ride Technologies kit still rides well even when adjusted for max performance.) And of course, you can adjust anywhere between the two extremes to achieve the best balance of ride and handling according to your tastes.

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