In the words of Al Gore, "The debate is over." Fortunately, the line we're plagiarizing from the former VP isn't in reference to apocalyptic global meltdown. That assumes men who went potty in outhouses had the technical aptitude to precisely measure global temperatures within a fraction of a degree, and how could any rational person argue with Al on that one? What we are talking about is air suspension systems. They flat out work. Just ask chaps like Boris Said and Scott Pruett, a couple of the best professional road racers America has to offer, who can't stop raving about the virtues of air suspension after flogging the snot out of Air Ride Technologies' stable of project cars. If you're the seeing-is-believing type, drop by a Goodguys Rod & Custom Association event sometime, where you'll see one of Air Ride's g-Machines handing musclecars and late-models their coil springs on a platter at the autocross.

To put it succinctly, air suspension systems offer several advantages over traditional mechanical springs. While mechanical springing is achieved through the elasticity of the metal, air is what provides the springing in an air suspension. Since air becomes stiffer the greater it is compressed, it is very progressive in nature. Consequently, the dynamic gyrations of air springs are far less severe than their mechanical counterparts, which results in improved ride quality. Furthermore, with the luxury of onboard air tanks and compressors, the spring rate in air suspension systems can be tuned at the touch of a button by adding or removing air. No such luck with coilovers.

Traditionally, as Air Ride's Bret Voelkel readily admits, the two biggest drawbacks of air suspension have been cost, and a time-consuming installation process. Although it will take some time before the popularity of air suspension grows enough in popularity to significantly impact pricing, Air Ride has hacked 10-15 hours off of a typical installation procedure with its new AirPod. "The vast majority of our tech calls relate to installing the compressor system," explains Bret. "People ask how and where to mount the compressor, solenoids, and air tank all the time. The plumbing and wiring aspect of the install, along with preventing air leaks, is also a top concern with our customers."

Which Pod's For You?
The AirPod comes in four different configurations, so which one's right for you? The biggest differences between the various units are the size of the tanks, and number of compressors. AirPods with 3-gallon air tanks have one compressor, while 'Pods with 5-gallon tanks have two compressors. "The only advantage of the larger unit is that it can raise a car more quickly," explains Bret Voelkel. "On a heavier car like the Chevelle RS, we went with the larger unit, but since SuperNova is lighter, the 3-gallon system works fine." Additionally, both 3- and 5-gallon systems can be equipped with Air Ride's RidePro or LevelPro electronic compressor control systems. -Stephen Kim

The solution is the AirPod, which combines all of the compressor hardware along with the air tank into a single integrated assembly. It comes preplumbed, prewired, and pretested. "A typical air suspension system has roughly 24 air and wiring connections to make," explains Bret. "We've eliminated all but four of them. With the AirPod, all you have to do is bolt the assembly to the car, connect four air lines, hook up three wires, and you're done. It saves a good day and a half of the labor." We briefly hit upon the prototype AirPod that was installed on Air Ride's '70 Chevelle RS (see "Good Gyrations," April 2008). This time around, we've got an exclusive first look at the first production unit, which was installed on the company's new '70 Nova project car. In addition to details on the full air suspension system that was bolted to the Nova, here's a look at how to get all podded up.

System: Dimensions: Weight: Part Number: Price:
3-gallon AirPod w/RidePro 20x12x9.5 24 lbs APOD4000E2 $1,895
3-gallon AirPod w/LevelPro 20x12x9.5 24 lbs APOD4000L $2,395
5-gallon AirPod w/RidePro 32x12x9.5 29 lbs APOD4100E2 $2,095
5-gallon AirPod w/LevelPro 32x12x9.5 29 lbs APOD4100L $2,595

The Best Giveaway Car Yet
Just call him a philanthropist. Giving away a car as nice as Air Ride's '70 Chevelle RS-which was featured in our July issue-is plain nuts, but Bret Voelkel is doing it again with his company's '70 Nova. While the Chevelle was quite the machine, Air Ride's sequel, dubbed SuperNova and also built by Precision Coachworks, may be just a smidgen better. "Goodguys liked the Chevelle so much, they asked us to build another giveaway car for them," says Bret. Originally a 307 car shifted by a Powerglide, SuperNova now boasts a 615hp World Products 427ci LS-series crate motor. "It makes as much power as the 540 big-block we put in the Chevelle RS, but the fact that it weighed 200 pounds less was an enticing proposition. That much horsepower coupled with the weight savings has to be a good thing." In fact, according to Bret, the Nova had no problems showing the Chevelle RS its hiney during an impromptu freeway sprint. Likewise, to live up to Air Ride's reputation of building track-proven g-Machines, it sports tubular front control arms, a four-link, an Air Ride ShockWave air suspension, 13-inch Wilwood brakes, a paddle-shifted Bowler 4L65E trans, and an AirPod in the trunk. Visual kick comes courtesy of Intro wheels, a slick yellow and matte-black paint scheme, narrowed bumpers, and custom fender vents. The Nova will be given away at the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, on the weekend of July 10-12 in 2009. There are three ways to win: Join Goodguys, submit your car into any Goodguys event, or mail in an entry form available online at www.good-guys.com. Stay tuned for future articles featuring SuperNova. -Stephen Kim

SOURCE
Air Ride Technologies
350 S. Charles St
Jasper
IN  47546
812-482-2932
www.ridetech.com
Precision Coachworks
www.paintgods.com
Chris Alston's Chassisworks
8861 Younger Creek Dr.
Sacramento
CA  95828
8-00/-722-2269
Wilwood
Goodguys Rod & Custom Association
www.good-guys.com