I’m really pumped to introduce everyone to our new Double Down Mustang RTR project, or perhaps I should say, experiment. As most of you know, I introduced the Mustang RTR just a few short years ago. The RTR is all about performance, fun, and having looks that kill; just some of the things we always strive for. We try to push the limits and stray away from the norm whenever possible. It’s through those core values that we’ve built some fun project cars and feel we have created the most diverse Ford Mustang available; suitable for daily driving, drift, grip, and drag duties on the track by way of the adjustable suspension that comes on our Spec 2s.
In just a few short years, we have broken a lot of barriers and opened a lot of minds to what is possible with the Ford Mustang that I love so much and it is just the beginning of what RTR plans to do in this world. This project is no different in the fact that we are once again straying from the norm and exploring a new territory by partnering up with Air Lift Performance to put their Mustang air suspension kit to the test. I know a lot of you are thinking, “If RTRs already have awesome suspension, why change it?” Well I don’t see anything wrong with a bit of exploration and a little fun sprinkled on top! You with me?
This project came about very organically after I received a call from a friend at Ford who just so happened to take some hot laps in Air Lift’s R&D car at a local track day in Michigan. He was ranting and raving about how it felt. During that call I was rolling my eyes picturing the way low-riders and mini-trucks bounce all over the place, thinking my friend was out of his mind and there was no way it would work out on track. However, he was so adamant that I try it out, that I was intrigued to look into it a bit. I reached out to Brian at Air Lift via a phone call and after nerding out on all the details of this new technology, was very surprised at what they have developed. It seemed that on paper this might be the ‘be all and end all’ for those of us that were tired of ride height versus performance versus ride quality compromises. I organized some track time for Brian and I at Ford’s steering and handling course, knowing that in just a couple of laps of testing through all the challenges on that track I would know what we were working with. After a few laps of feeling the car and starting to push it pretty hard, my mind was blown with how this new technology handled what I threw at it. After the experience and further nerding out with Brian at lunch, my brain started to wonder what the limits of this new air suspension technology was. Can it… drift? Grip? Drag? Blast over speed bumps? Maybe even JUMP??? And also offer a good ride quality on the street? Those questions are what led us here and are the crux of this project. So we’re going to have some fun over the next year and find out!
I swore to myself I would not have a car at SEMA this year – I just had too much going on and I really did not want to add to the workload. However, Rod Chong twisted my arm and I now felt challenged, which means I had to make it happen. Rod suggested that perhaps Keith Charvonia and I partner up to make it happen. I knew who Keith was from his incredible Kaiser project and thought it would be really cool to work with someone who also loves cars but normally plays in a different space. After a call to Keith, I quickly realized he would be a great person to work with to make this happen. We briefly went over the project and agreed to meet in person at Formula Drift Irwindale to finalize his portion of the build.
By the time Keith and I met there, I had followed through on my responsibilities. I took a Mustang RTR Spec 2 that was born an automatic and converted it to a manual transmission, installed a Torsen differential, Exedy Stage 2 Clutch, and had a custom tune built for it, as well as installed RTR fender blisters. Keith and I did a walk around the Double Down RTR and came up with a game plan to complete everything in the short time before SEMA.
Prior to the car leaving Irwindale to make the trek to Arizona, we removed the slightly too big temporary wheel spacers in the rear, in order to not rip the fenders off. This picture is a perfect example of how not to fit your wheels! It also shows you how far the fender blisters widen the car.
Immediately upon his return to Arizona, the Air Lift Performance air suspension had arrived and it was go time!
On the lift and ready for a new chapter in its life. A chapter in which it’s going to be used and abused!
The perfect fit
While the Air Lift install is designed to be easily installed by a do-it-yourselfer in only eight hours, we obliged for the offer of the Air Lift team to fly out and help with the install. It never hurts to see the pros in action! Brian even uses an air ratchet, isn’t he fancy?
Not only can the ride height be adjusted by the actual air, but there is adjustment on the shock body, similar to most coilovers to get the exact range you want.
The air bag adjustment offers over four inches of adjustment from fully laid out to fully inflated front and back. Adjustable camber plates are included as well.
In short, the installation is close to being as simple as a coilover install or a shock swap with the addition of installing a tank, one or two pumps, and some minor wiring and running of air hose.
Fitting perfectly in the trunk like Keith is not required for the install.
If you hadn’t noticed, the overall adjustment range of this set-up is massive. Having options is a good thing, especially given the crux of the project. The damping is 30-way adjustable; this adjustment and their proprietary valving is where I believe Air Lift has really figured it out. Having proper damping adjustment to work with the ‘spring’ rate variations the bags offer is key to performance. During our short test, I confirmed that adjustments DO make a difference in the way the car reacts. So many shock products claim damping adjustment these days and for many, the changes are negligible at best.
Did I mention adjustment? This in-cockpit controller allows you to manually lower the front and back of the car or choose a previously defined height setting to cater to your needs.
With everything installed, it was time to see how low Double Down could go. Now if only driving like this was functional and fun…
Keith is still hammering away knocking out a few remaining details to get ready for SEMA. One detail is the arrival of our new Rotiform wheels. Not that Double Down doesn’t already look tough as nails rocking the RTR wheels, BUT the Satin Bronze three-piece Rotiform BLQs are going to look incredible. I’m really pumped on the project and look forward to having a lot of fun with everyone involved! If you make it to SEMA, stop by the Exedy Clutch booth and check it out!
So what does everyone think? Can Air Lift’s performance air suspension be the end of compromises? I’m looking forward to finding out!
I would like to find out more about the wheel arches. I love the aggressive look they give the Mustang. Where can I get them ?
I've been watching this product like a hawk, hopefully it really does provide what it promises. Realistically a tank wouldn't be needed as long as you waited for the height to rise? Saving a bit of weight?
here is what kills me, the marketing guys say that its a 30-way adjustable system.. this is just wrong by definition, there are 3 ways you can adjust one of these shocks. one by the threaded collar (height) another by the bag pressure (height and some dampening) and the third way is the dampening knob which has 30 clicks.
sure you have 30 different dampening settings to select from but there is still only one way to change it.. thats why the KW V3 is a 3 way adjustable damper, height, rebound and compression.
just a pet peeve but it is a little misleading in stead of saying its 30 way adjustable, maybe they should focus on the wide range of adjust-ability for that particular variable.
Beautiful car. I cant wait to get an air lift suspension on my car n drive low. sna rotiforms on the black stang are siiiiiiiik
The flares are awesome! My question is will the flares be available to consumers? Would be nice to have an option like that for the mustang crowd. Also would these possibly fit an 05-09 mustang?
looks revolutionary....what is the cost for it tho? If it costs so much more then the competition, which it looks as if it could, then the product wont go far
im just a few miles from air lift. have meet all the guys and are very good friends with a few. there setups are the best hands dwn. and have seen the craftsmanship that goes into what makes up a performance kit. they are the only true way to get function and form in one package,
It would be interesting to see how long it lasts. Matt Farah also tested the kit and had rave reviews. It does make the future of air suspension pretty exciting.
I thought the future would be in a piston driven sleeve that would lock at different heights with the shock body being lifted and dropped, leaving the suspension pretty much alone and lifting and dropping the ride height. From the look of it, it looks like there is a spring inside the airlift airbag, which is a massive improvement over just a plain bag, since the spring rate would vary massively otherwise based off of ride height, add on top of that knowledge of proper valving and it looks very promising.
Car looks great, and hope to see it doing everything you suggested!
I have always found it odd that air ride technology isn't more prevalent in various forms of racing. My only question is in terms of strength and durability, is it similar to a coil over set up? Car looks badass by the way, love those flares!!
@Joedaveire I don't think they're available for sale, It's something Vaughn was playing around with and considering selling.
@MatthewDear I see your logic, but with the availability of aluminum tanks that actually weigh less than a compressor it makes sense to run one. Also if you use Air Lift's manifold (that's what lets the air in and out of the bags) it needs air pressure on reserve to operate.
Think I deleted my comment somehow. Anyway the tanks are not that heavy. My system total is only about 30lb additional weight which for a street car isn't going to kill me.
I've only heard of a few tankless setups in the true sense. People have been known to make frames tanks however...
@AlexanderBoroday These aren't the final choice of wheels, you'll have to look out for the next post... Worth it though, they're in the final shots!
@seattlejester Sounds like you're thinking more along the lines of an air cup system, which do exist. A true coilover with adjustable dampening/spring rate and an air cup that can raise and drop the car an inch or 2, but doesn't sacrifice the shock's performance.
@seattlejester No extra springs here. This is an airbag over a threaded body shock.
@TomKimmell Air suspension is actually starting to pop up in land speed racing of all places. Look at high end builds like Blowfish.
@TomKimmell It's probably a weight/simplicity issue. If a "regular" suspension can give the same level of control, why bother with the extra tank/pumps/tubing?
@ELEANOR6589 That's like, the opposite of 'murica?
Blowfish is such a nice car, beautiful lines! The air ride suspension setup would work quite well for land speed, but does going 300mph create unwanted downforce that could lead to that car touching the ground? Again, durability of bags meant for non - commercial use would be my concern.
Believe it or not the standard kit is lighter then The standard standard strut/shock and spring setup. Our kit with the extra pump weighs in at only 4 lbs over the factory setup. That REALLY surprised me.
If you look there are/have been a few people who have tried it. Sadly few have really fully documented the results. Few pics but not much else.
As Toyota supra man said below probably more a simplicity thing than anything else.
Professional levels of racing have an extremely particular set of needs most of which are not the goal of these bags. A race team will need the umpteenth degree of performance to be competitive, and for that particular mission, regular springs fill the bill. Air suspension approaches the high levels of performance but also in a manner convenient to the average person. What the racing coil overs give in the top 1% of performance, they sacrifice in comfort and versatility. Air suspension allows you to have 90 to 95% of that performance while easily being able to adjust the spring rate to a particular form of motor sport while at the same time giving easy adjustment of ride height to suit the end user's need. Its a completely fantastic concept for all those cars that also drive the street, or participate in multiple diciplines.