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Project S550 Mustang GT: Installing Airlift Suspension Digital V2 

by Nathan Brummer

 

In planning the next phase of Project S550 Mustang GT, we began looking at suspension kits that would give the versatility of a comfortable daily diving experience and still provide a somewhat capable track setup. Before we move forward, it’s also important to revisit our goals with this project. This is NOT an all out performance track car, but rather a daily driver that we want to transform into a competitive street car. It’s something that will see light track day action, as well as something that we can show off at local car shows. Given this direction, this build will come to points where compromises are made for street-ability and comfort. While a race-spec coilover kit would be a great solution for the track, daily driving this kit would be less than desirable. Having made this mistake on previous daily drivers, we were determined not to do the same with this project!

            A lot of people can agree a lowered car looks great; to us, nothing can kill the looks of a car like unneeded fender gap. In lowering the car though, handling and ride comfort can suffer depending on the ways you achieve this. Compounding a lowered car with potholes, speed bumps and steep driveways can be extremely frustrating. In fact, with the new fascia we installed in the last update, we were already experiencing some of these issues and also started scraping on several steep driveways. When factoring all of this into the equation and searching the aftermarket for available kits, we landed on what we felt was the best solution and matched the goals of this project. Enter, Airlift Performance and their Digital V2 Kit. 

 

This is the Airlift Digital V2. It includes everything needed to install the kit into a S550 Mustang. In addition to the V2 Kit, Airlift also offers a 3P kit and a 3H kit. The 3H kit is their top of the line offering, which includes constant height monitoring that allows for anti-cross loading by adjusting at the right time to counteract shifts in weight. 

We arrived at this decision after coming across an interesting video that Airlift put together and posted on Youtube. The video “Air Suspension vs. Coilovers" compares their performance orientated air kits to a comparable coilover kit. They run the test back to back on three different models (one being an S197 Mustang). While we may have been a little skeptical that they won all three of the challenges- in our minds, even if they were competitive, it was worth considering. Add in the versatility of the kit being able to raise the car for steep obstacles, and it was a huge win. At this point, we were very intrigued by the kit and began talking with other owners. All of the owners that we chatted with said the same thing- they loved their kit. In fact, a couple owners regularly used their cars for club autocross events, and several others have gotten their cars deep into the 10’s while drag racing. All impressive testimonials when considering they also frequently daily drive these cars. At this point, we were sold and got in touch with Hypermotive. They had the kit in stock and got everything shipped at a great price the very next day.

            The kit we chose was was Airlift’s Digital V2 setup. It came with everything needed for installation. The front kit features monotube struts with 30 levels of adjustable dampening, spherical ball upper mounts, camber plates, and double bellow progressive rate springs. The struts have lower treaded mounts for tuning both ride height and, depending on air pressures, can translate to different spring rates. The rear kit is very similar but with separate monotube shocks and double bellow progressive rate springs. The shocks feature the same 30 levels of adjustable damping and have similar adjustable lower mounts as the fronts. 

 

Airlift includes camber plates as part of the kit.  
 

The Airlift front strut compared to the stock strut with the the Eibach Prokit spring installed. You can see the lower adjustable collar and the integrated air spring. 

 

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Comments
Burninator
Burninatorlink
Thursday, April 27, 2017 9:40 AM
How will you use this at the track then? At the ride height setting pictured? I assume this is the same as you use around town, so you can't stiffen the springs without changing the height, so then you just use different damper settings? Or is there a way to adjust the height and spring rate separately?

Other than having the option to air-down for photoshoot mode, why is that better than a coil-over? I just don't get it.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Thursday, April 27, 2017 10:45 AM
Well, it has the monster truck raise option to prevent scrapping getting in/out of driveways. I think McLaren has this option on their cars, front ride height raise. I scraped the front of Project S2000 on a fair number of things and I didn't even lower it much, like 1" from stock.
Burninator
Burninatorlink
Thursday, April 27, 2017 11:19 AM
Yeah, that does sound nice to raise it to avoid scrapping. I just always feel like they don't do quite what I hope they would do, almost opposite actually. In an ideal world they would get softer the higher your ride height, and stiffer the lower the ride.

Do they come in different rates or sizes? How do you ensure that it has the spring rate you would want at the ride height you want? Or do you just get what they send and hope the rates are good enough? Maybe I just don't understand how they work.

It seems like you can't really transform it when you go to the track, you can't stiffen it up without bringing up the ride height. So for a dual purpose car it's of limited use, maybe. Not that it doesn't have any uses.
Burninator
Burninatorlink
Thursday, April 27, 2017 11:26 AM
I just feel like the article was going to try and convince me of how air suspension would work well for a track/street car, but it didn't really get there.

Then he said the monster truck setting helped at the alignment center, but doesn't alignment change when ride height changes? So how was it helpful.

Maybe I missed the point. If the point was just that it can have a show-car stance but also get up steep driveways, then that's fine. But I don't see how it helps a street/track car specifically, unless the low stance height has the right spring rate for track driving.

I probably missed the point.
tc3sean
tc3seanlink
Thursday, April 27, 2017 3:10 PM
@Burn From my understanding, using the bags to get extra clearance to get onto the alignment rack, THEN once on the rack air out the bags to the desired ride height or whatever height that the car will be driven the most.

Car then gets aligned at that desired ride height maximizing tread life and yadaayadaa at that height.

Air back up to 4x4 mode to safely get off rack.
MDR
MDRlink
Friday, April 28, 2017 9:29 AM
To "dampen" is to make something wet. Therefore "dampening" is wetting something. What you're looking for is "damping", which you got right 1/3 of the time!

Anyway, no pictures at monster truck height?!
LornStar
LornStarlink
Friday, April 28, 2017 10:47 AM
@Burninator You can adjust the spring rate by increasing the pressure in the bags to your liking and then you can adjust the ride height with the adjustable collar on the bottom of the damper. So first-time setup probably takes a while unless you have people who have already done if first. I'm not sure if aiR Lift has the numbers for PSI to spring rate though. Should be a simple calculation.
Burninator
Burninatorlink
Friday, April 28, 2017 11:54 AM
@MDR Multiple online dictionaries, from Google define to Merriam-Webster, give 2 definitions to the word dampen. It can mean to moisten, OR to make less strong or intense.

@LornStar Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I'm more on board know that you know you can adjust height and stiffness separately, too bad it's not something that can be done on the fly. That probly would have been obvious to a lot of people but I didn't know.
MDR
MDRlink
Friday, April 28, 2017 7:22 PM
Hmm yes but still has nothing to do with a "damper" which is "a device for reducing mechanical vibration". Furthermore, I've been to talks given by Koni where one of the first things they establish is that damping is for talking about shocks, dampening is for making something wet.

Just thought the author should know the difference if they're going to try to convince people that air bags are equivalent or better than coilovers.
2MCHLAG
2MCHLAGlink
Monday, May 01, 2017 9:04 PM
All I can do is shake my head. Are you guys going to go to hot import nights next or what?

Moto IQ is the place where I go at least to find track oriented topics and news. I can see this bagged garbage on every other place on the internet bragging about how good it is.

Tell that to any race car driver, hell even the drifters.
engineered
engineeredlink
Tuesday, May 02, 2017 1:05 PM
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