Coilover Versus Air Ride: Performance on the Track


Remember Ice Cube three wheeling around Compton in a green ’64 Impala convertible? No? That’s okay. However iconic the scene, it had little to do with performance. Bagged (air suspension) cars are often thought of as right lane cruisers too low to haul ass because the driver has to pay constant attention to changes in the road surface or risk major damage from potential contact with a raised sewer lid. The appeal of air suspension technology is that owners who want that stanced look from their daily driver could have their cake and eat it too. The problem with air ride suspension for a track car was a combination of the additional weight, questionable spring rates from air bags and the constant change of alignment from raising and lowering the vehicle.

There’s now a company who’s trying to change our view on air suspension. Meet Air Lift Performance. To prove their technology is capable of winning on their track they have competed in the Ultimate Track Car Challenge, finishing rather well.

In the video below, Air Lift Performance attempts to demonstrate the performance of their suspension by measuring track performance on a Volkswagen GTI, Mustang GT and a GT86. There are many questions about their testing, such as what brand coilovers, alignment settings, etc. It would be of no surprise that factory suspension may be better than a cheap ass coilover kit. So take their video with a grain of salt.

I’m not yet sold on the technology however the thought of using air bags to create reliable dynamic rate virtual springs is something that could change the game if proven reliable. I’d like to see a collaboration with JRZ or Ohlins. Then we can take this seriously.

Air vs. Coilovers from Air Lift Performance on Vimeo.