In our May 2002 issue we showed you how Just Dashes restored the dash panels in Ron Aguirre’s latest project, a ’72 Ford Ranchero. Well, in this article we’re featuring another part of the project, a super-clean air suspension system from Air Ride Technologies (in Jasper, Indiana) installed by Joe Pineda, owner of Ground Control Custom Suspension (in Rancho Cucamonga, California).When a man like Ron–who literally “invented” hydraulics for cars back in the mid-’50s when he juiced his Corvette X-Sonic–says that he’s going to “bag” his pickup, we take notice. Ron was having Air Ride’s ARC4600 RidePro Max system installed, which includes two 150-psi air compressors, two 3-gallon air tanks, a four-way rocker-switch control panel with dual 150-psi pressure gauges, four Firestone air springs (air bags), spring plates, cups, 3/8-inch air line, brackets, fittings, hardware and complete installation instructions with wiring and plumbing diagrams.
The most unique feature of the Air Ride system is the RidePro Max solenoid/manifold air valve control system. The assembly can be placed anywhere in the vehicle (Joe mounted it up under the frame), and the switches and gauges can be mounted elsewhere: in the console, in the dash, the glovebox, etc. Only the wiring harness and the smaller 1/8-inch airlines are routed into the passenger compartment.
The RidePro Max air valves have a larger orifice so they will flow more air. This means getting the vehicle up quicker. When configured in the four-way mode, rise time is even faster, due to doubling the amount of orifices as well as increasing their size. When configured in the four-way mode, the valve assembly also prevents air transfer from side-to-side. This will improve cornering and handling and help reduce body roll by compensating for unequal loads.The RidePro solenoid system comes with a complete wiring harness that uses WeatherPak connectors. The air valves can be set up in a two-way or four-way mode allowing for single or dual axle operation, or to operate each air spring individually for side-to-side and corners moves. The air valves are also “bubble tight,” which means that they have been tested for complete leak-free operation. We’re told that RidePro will also be compatible with future Air Ride products such as AutoLeveling and remote control air suspension systems.
Because the Ranchero has a front suspension similar to a GM vehicle with upper control arms and lower control arms, the front installation is very similar with a Chevy pickup. Some cutting and welding is involved for the air bag mounting plates and new front shock brackets, but any seasoned DIYer or welding shop can easily handle the work. The Ranchero comes with rear coil springs from the factory, so installing the rear air springs is a snap. The factory lower spring cups are compatible with the air bag mounting cups and the shocks don’t need to be relocated.
Air Ride also offers application-specific Monroe and KYB shocks as options, to provide even greater ride comfort and steering control. Joe installed a set of KYB Gas-A-Just shocks on the Ranchero. (To further improve handling, driving stability and reduced un-sprung weight, Ron also added a set of Bridgestone Firehawk performance radials and 17-inch Vision alloy wheels.) Follow the photos and you’ll see just how easy it is to pump up a pickup with a pneumatic suspension package from Air Ride.