How and why did we get involved in the world of air suspension?
In around 2000 when air first started to become popular here im the UK, we had many customers ask if we could install air as part of building their cars.
In the past it had always been something of a compromise when building a car – the suspension height had to be set by the height of the coil spring at the outset. The compromise came from the fact that customers always wanted the car as low as possible, but always wanted the ability to clear speed bumps, and to be able to drive the cars.
Each customer tended to draw the line in a different place, but pretty much all the customers liked the look of the cars when they were lower, but this inevitably ended up with large repair bills when (specifially) front bumpers became damaged.
Air suspension changed this, because the height of the car could be adjusted at the touch of a button – even on the move.
Hydraulics vs Air?
Since the 1970’s hydraulics (which we also fit) had been popular, although primarily on american cars with separate chassis. Hydraulics work (I have one of my cars on juice), but ultimately there are a number of issues for use on smaller sportier cars. Firstly the equipment needed is both bulky and heavy – not what you want in your MINI or Saxo. Secondly they don’t tend to ride very well – also not what you want on your MINI or Saxo.
The simplest hydraulic systems have no shock absorbers (dampers) and no suspension. As such they are not legal for use in the UK. Improvements can be made to a hydraulic install to improve the handling, but this tends to involve more bulk, and more weight, and is a very unsophisticated system at worst, and the best ones actually use an airbag kit as well, although in a remote cage in the boot – even more bulk.
At the end of the day Hydraulics tend to lift the car higher, and faster, but only at the cost of handling, weight and bulk. Extreme speed, leads to extreme costs in terms of handling, weight, and bulk.
Air on the other hand has been adopted by the likes of Rolls Royce, Cadillac, and Range Rover, because it can give a good ride, the systems can be far less bulky (although extreme installs add bulk), and far less weight.
The systems we supply and fit, use far higher specification parts than any of the manufacturers above.
We had worked on numerous hydraulic equiped cars, and saw it very much as the way forward for the modified cars we build. When one of our customers asked us about having air, we were happy to source for him a specialist able to carry out the work. We looked on the internet, read magazine articles, and in the end chose a company that is not a million miles away from us, and seemed (according to the mags) to have the best reputation in the country.
I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong – in this case choosing this “company” to install air for our customer was a real mistake. I was wrong.
We took the quite valuable (£18,000) car to this company and left it for the air to be installed. We were told it would take around a week. It took three, but this was not an issue, we just wanted the car done right. Our experinece was one shared by many people each year whom make the same mistake, and can be seen on the relevant page of this site, by clicking below.
After this customers would book their car in for a bodykit, or respray, and often see one of the air powered cars, or might have heard about one we had done, and without any effort, or marketing this gradually became something we did more and more until we seem to have become something of a specialist.
If you want air on your car then please feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements – I promise that you will not have the bumpy ride (in more ways than one) that I did when we first got involved in the world of air suspension.