Risky Business <br/> The Devil Made Me Do It
Air Everywhere

The pictures I’m about to show you were grabbed in a little over an hour before getting on a flight out of Chicago. I’ve been sitting on them for a while, but I remember it being bitterly cold and time being painfully short. Because when I walked in through the door of the workshop, I knew I wanted to stay longer than I was ever going to be able to…

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-13

The primary reason for being there was to shoot Richard ‘Fish’ Fisher’s S14 Nissan 240 – a big ol’ badass, LS-equipped machine that oozes presence. Think about catching a strong smell of perfume or aftershave as somebody walks by and that’s the feeling you get. It grabs your attention whether you like it or not.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-16

But that was just the start of it. There’s been a full feature on Fish’s Rocket Bunny kitted BRZ in the past, but since then this garage full of interest has sat dormant in the archives, waiting for a reason to shine.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-18

So when the On Air Only theme idea was floated, what better than a whole workshop full of it to show you guys? Although the S14 is very much the meat in this sandwich, there’s plenty of pickle, lettuce and condiment to go with it. Or rather a whole slew of air-equipped projects…

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-5

Fish has an enviable stack of cars, and virtually every one of them runs on air. Like many of the Risky Devil guys, he’s a firm convert to the air suspension way of doing things.

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It aligns perfectly with the Risky Devil style: attention grabbing in a subtle way as opposed to using something like wild graphics. It’s all about co-ordination for them, that and making stuff look ‘right’, which is why you’ll find these huge Weds Kranze Bazreia wheels all around.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-20

Fish had them built up to his specs, and now they measure 18×10-inch at the front and 19×11-inch in the rear – that extra inch each way adding to the visual impact. But for me, it’s the hilarious -49 and -58 offsets they feature which makes them work so well. You’d more normally find this design of wheel on a VIP machine, but I love that feel they bring to this build.

Pork Rind
Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-7

Originally bought as a bone-stock S14 from an older lady, but it didn’t stay that way for long. “One of my best friends and I originally split this car,” remembers Fish. “It was unmolested and we turned it into a beginner drift car with your basic SR20, coilovers, diff, and of course an obnoxious body kit. That was about five years ago now.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-36

When that friend moved to China, Fish bought him out of the project and since then has developed the Nissan much further. You could say that it’s become part of his furniture.

AJ Gillett Fish 240 LSV8 Speedhunters (2 of 4)

The SR got swapped out a while back and you’ll find a familiar Chevrolet power plant in there now. “The reason I did an LS2 swap into the car is simple: power and reliability with ease,” Fish says. “I don’t care what anyone says – a nearly stock LS is as bulletproof as can be. It has been through hell and back with me, without a hiccup.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-50

For all the jokes about LS engines being common as muck, and truck engines, they sure do the job well. The Nissan rips tyres and the reliability aspect means it’s one less thing for Fish to break.

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The project has become his campfire – the one that centres the collection. Fish sums it up best: “That car has taught me all I know about drifting and the culture behind it. It will always stay with me, no matter what condition. From tandeming with all my Risky Devil buddies to racing my father down the highway (and winning), the S14 has done it all.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-30

It sits so well thanks to a full setup from Air Lift Performance, which coincidentally is who we met Fish through. Seeing as they’re just a few hours drive away in Lansing, Michigan, it’s also where new purchases often get delivered for the relevant kit to either be fitted or sometimes developed.

As for drifting on air suspension, it works – it really does. If you have any doubts, then you need to educate yourself on the subject. Take a look at this short video from a grassroots bash and you’ll see at least a couple of the cars from this garage – they show it’s not going to kill a bus queue full of nuns or kittens if you try it!

Stood To Attention
Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-6

I’ve teased you for long enough with images of the other cars in the old car dealership workshop. Handily, that’s Fish’s line of business, so the space makes a perfect impromptu studio. The other ZN6 chassis you can see here belongs to AJ Gillet, one of the original Risky Devil founders, who also took the engine shots of Fish’s S14 when my frozen brain forgot to.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-1

This Enkei wheel wearing S13 is a winter missile believe it or not, but that doesn’t stop it from being pretty clean and detailed.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-10

One other car that isn’t on air in the garage is this PS13. I really like its panda-like paint scheme and low-key feel.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-40

“This is my buddy Matt’s car, we call him Taco Matt,” Fish told me. “This was one of the first ever LS-swapped 240s – he did it before there was a kit or any real info for the swap. It must have been over eight years ago now, but I could be a bit off. The car is an OG in the Chicago drift scene and in the LS swap scene.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-26

Back to the air-equipped fleet, here’s a real rarity, which was built from the ground up with the help of TF Works in Chicago and some friends. Now, I know during summer Chicago gets some decent sun, but seriously, what prompted Fish to chop the roof off? “It started life as a bone stock S13 ‘vert and we turned into this absolutely gorgeous and useless creation,” he says on the subject.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-11

“My whole goal with the car was to try and build a 240 that no one else has [which is very tough nowadays]. I believe I succeeded though. It’s beyond useless, but I was okay with that as I have the S14 as my functional toy.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-15

Going back to that thing about co-ordination, you’ll notice that the Risky Devil signature colours are almost exclusively white or red. But as far as models go, pretty much anything goes. The white Mk6 Golf was originally Fish’s but he sold it to good friend Niko. This is a complete build that I’m kicking myself now for not taking more pictures of. Fish saying, “If I had to say one thing about this car it would be ‘dialed in’. The car is daily driven, thrashed, abused, and it loves every minute of it. The Air Lift kit handles like no other, and although it just looks like a wide-body Golf R on air and wheels, it isn’t. Pushing a little over 300 wheel [horsepower] and with fine tuned air, it moves in every which way.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-12

Another car I should have shot more of is the Nissan Van in the background here. We had a quick and hilarious ride in it, Fish telling me, “It’s the rarest car in the building. The Nissan Van [that's the model name – just Van] is the only, or first car in US automotive history to be fully recalled. Every Nissan Van was bought back from the owners and destroyed as they kept catching fire and that wasn’t the most ideal situation.”

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-29

“This one was saved and swapped with an SR20 to try and prevent the whole fire issue. It was absolutely spotless and was bought by AJ and I from California.”

Seems Legit
Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-38

So what’s the moral of this story? What ties this line-up together? That’s what’s been riding around my mind like a free-roaming unicorn as I write this. I know… all unicorns are free roaming, duh.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-14

Well, for one, there’s the passion – that’s evident everywhere. Fish has got a lot of cars, and I know what you’re thinking, because I guess everybody who sees this kind of line-up wonders the same thing – how does he pay for it all? By working long hours and being good at what he does.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-44

But it’s passion that binds the Risky Devil together, and it’s why I reckon their builds work so well. That common bond means you’re building your car as part of a team, crew or whatever word you want to give a group of like-minded people.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-24

I think what I (and hopefully you) can relate to most, is that what although at first it might appear cliquey, is actually the opposite. Because where you might be honed-in on one model, your friends make you open your eyes to others.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-49

So instead of it being a one-make-only thing, there’s a whole range of makes and models. It’s the style that smooths it all together, bridging the gaps where you’d usually have to join another forum or owners club to be accepted.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-25

And the Risky Devil choice of air suspension is another important key in that ethos. Yes, I know as a modification you can choose to change the suspension on every car, but for too long air suspension in particular has been branded as a style thing. Just a ‘look’, a fad even.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-17

But it’s so much more than that.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-31

Its time is here and now – you can have your cake and eat it too. You can have your desired stance and you can drift it. So maybe that’s why these pictures sat around for so long, waiting to tell the message that they really sum up.

Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-52

Things can go wrong and right in a heartbeat, so it’s probably best to just get out there and have some fun. Sound like a plan? As the old saying goes, ‘Don’t take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive.’

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: TwospeedBryn
bryn@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
Risky Devils Fish S14 Air Lift-48
AJ Gillett Fish 240 LSV8 Speedhunters (1 of 4)
AJ Gillett Fish 240 LSV8 Speedhunters (3 of 4)
AJ Gillett Fish 240 LSV8 Speedhunters (4 of 4)
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81 comments

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1
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

That's a fat ass for sure, good to see someone actually driving their kitted car hard.

2

Living the dream. I love the aesthetic of the garage.

3

So, about this "air performance" business; does it actually perform? Yes, I've noticed multiple writers on Speedhunters saying air performs as well as or better than a "static" suspension setup (ie, traditional metal coil springs and hydraulic dampers), and I for one am glad to see people include it in performance builds, but I still can't figure out how air suspension can be the equal of a quality coil and damper system from a performance standpoint.
Lets start with the obvious; weight. Those pumps, tanks, controlers, hoses and springs all have to weigh something, and I am sure I am not the only one looking at such a setup and thinking it has to add a good fifty to a hundred pounds to a car compared to a simple spring and damper. Sure, a lightweight air pump is good, but wouldn't no pump be better?
And for the more subtle but serious aspect, I have my doubts about spring and damper rates. Perhaps I could be overly sceptical (credit Dave Coleman and his old Technobabble column for that), but since an air spring will double it's spring rate when the air bag volume is halved, it would seem that an impractically large air bag would be needed to include enough air volume to keep spring rate increases to a reasonable level. And while damping technology seems to have reached a point where it could handle such spring rate increases, what happens when a single wheel hits a bump mid corner and the spring and damper rates skyrocket? It seems like a recipe for a nervous handling car, at best.
And while it is good to see guys out enjoying such a fine build as the one featured here, am I the only one that is noticing the track seems to be billiard table smooth? Seriously, where are the bumps and curbs? That seems like it would be the true test since the bumps are where air is supposed to shine; based on what I am reading here, anyway.
And speaking of, why have I not heard of a single serious race team or OE using air bags for anything other than big limos? If air suspension has gotten so good, why isn't it (rules aside) showing up on the La Ferrari for example? So can you, the Speedhunters team, show why and how air suspension is so good? A link to an article explaining it would be fine, I just want to know why it is such a big deal and what these claimed improvements are over the older stuff. Because until I see something concrete, air suspension will, to me, continue to be more style than performance oriented.

4

The back end on that S14 is honestly one of the ugliest things I've ever seen, kouki tails would probably change my opinion

5

Badass, I see this is getting a Rocket Bunny Boss kit

6

Badass, I see this is getting a Rocket Bunny Boss kit

7
NikitaRyabchikov

These guys are my favorite drift community!  F*uck JUNKHOUSE ! Bring back the JUNKHOUSE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8

After the kinda BS judging in seattles FD last week this is refreshing to see the roots back on the streets final bout is where its about and chitown holds it down man. Risky devil and junkhouse is the reason im into drifiting, exessive scraping, late night hooning, bad dieting, cheap front bumpers and lieing to my insurance.
My project z33 will hate me. Keep up the good work speedhunters and riskydevils squad

9

dlaurence01 shut up.

10

great
another ls-powered, cardboard-bodykit-fitted, dank hellaflushed s14

11

great
another ls-powered, cardboard-bodykit-fitted, dank hellaflushed s14

12

@youstillaho 
someone's mad

13

Hi there dlaurence01, we might have to see if one of the guys from Air Lift can jump on and answer some of these more technical questions for you! We've produced a few stories in the past about air suspension including an interesting history piece, and Air Lift also have quite an interesting video you can check out on their website too. In the mean time, here are some links: 

http://www.speedhunters.com/2014/05/know-real-history-air-suspension

http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/11/double-rtr-get-air-lift

https://www.airliftperformance.com/blog/airvscoilover

https://www.airliftcompany.com/support/faqs

14

Great
Another close minded, arrogant, hater

15

What happened to Risky Devil's Lexus IS? I was in love with that car years ago

16

What happened to Risky Devil's Lexus IS? I was in love with that car years ago

17
turbo BEAMS ae86

my god..love that bazreia!!!

18
turbo BEAMS ae86

my god..love that bazreia!!!

19
turbo BEAMS ae86

@cancerman u see so much cars like this  each day in u're drive to work?  i must move there..sound fun

20
turbo BEAMS ae86

@cancerman u see so much cars like this  each day in u're drive to work?  i must move there..sound fun

21

dlaurence01 Oh sweet someone who wants to have this conversation rather than plugging there ears going lalalalalala, how exciting!
While I can't answer most of your questions and I'm sure someone from Air Lift will. I can say that on my chassis (3/speed3 I've had it on both) the weight of the air suspension vs OE was down but the tank and compressor (heaviest bit) as you said added about 30lbs. I removed my spare and stuffed it all in there so I'm probably breaking even now, though it wasn't my biggest concern.
Spring rate voodoo I can't comment on. But I can say my car doesn't drive like a nervous car. However at the top of it's lift range it is extremely stiff.
As far as race teams, air IS more complex that can't be argued and most race teams don't need more complexity I'd imagine. There are a few race cars scattered across the planet running on air at the grass roots to I believe semi pro level though.
Plenty of OEs have used air suspension on a variety of cars other than limos. A lot of the current fleet of Mercedes Benz cars are air systems. I know Lincoln messed with it back in the 90s, and citroen has been doing crazy pneumatic stuff (not quite comparable if I recall) for ages.
I don't think that anyone is going to argue that air for a pure performance build is the way to go, but for a car that has to do more than one thing it's a great option.

22

dlaurence01 Oh sweet someone who wants to have this conversation rather than plugging there ears going lalalalalala, how exciting!
While I can't answer most of your questions and I'm sure someone from Air Lift will. I can say that on my chassis (3/speed3 I've had it on both) the weight of the air suspension vs OE was down but the tank and compressor (heaviest bit) as you said added about 30lbs. I removed my spare and stuffed it all in there so I'm probably breaking even now, though it wasn't my biggest concern.
Spring rate voodoo I can't comment on. But I can say my car doesn't drive like a nervous car. However at the top of it's lift range it is extremely stiff.
As far as race teams, air IS more complex that can't be argued and most race teams don't need more complexity I'd imagine. There are a few race cars scattered across the planet running on air at the grass roots to I believe semi pro level though.
Plenty of OEs have used air suspension on a variety of cars other than limos. A lot of the current fleet of Mercedes Benz cars are air systems. I know Lincoln messed with it back in the 90s, and citroen has been doing crazy pneumatic stuff (not quite comparable if I recall) for ages.
I don't think that anyone is going to argue that air for a pure performance build is the way to go, but for a car that has to do more than one thing it's a great option.

23

dlaurence01 Oh sweet someone who wants to have this conversation rather than plugging there ears going lalalalalala, how exciting!
While I can't answer most of your questions and I'm sure someone from Air Lift will. I can say that on my chassis (3/speed3 I've had it on both) the weight of the air suspension vs OE was down but the tank and compressor (heaviest bit) as you said added about 30lbs. I removed my spare and stuffed it all in there so I'm probably breaking even now, though it wasn't my biggest concern.
Spring rate voodoo I can't comment on. But I can say my car doesn't drive like a nervous car. However at the top of it's lift range it is extremely stiff.
As far as race teams, air IS more complex that can't be argued and most race teams don't need more complexity I'd imagine. There are a few race cars scattered across the planet running on air at the grass roots to I believe semi pro level though.
Plenty of OEs have used air suspension on a variety of cars other than limos. A lot of the current fleet of Mercedes Benz cars are air systems. I know Lincoln messed with it back in the 90s, and citroen has been doing crazy pneumatic stuff (not quite comparable if I recall) for ages.
I don't think that anyone is going to argue that air for a pure performance build is the way to go, but for a car that has to do more than one thing it's a great option.

24
ADimitriRoumeliotis

dlaurence01
the air is the spring only. there are plenty of high performance off road vehicles that use air rather than a  coil spring.
The reason why "race teams" and "OE's" don't use it is they have no requirement to alter the ride height of the vehicle.
But if you want a street car with a certain look, and you want to be able to drive on any road, maybe you do.
The tricky part is getting the spring rate correct at the most critical ride height (the height you do your sport driving at)
but if you can dial it in to have that, then have it a little firmer (higher) for shitty roads/speed bumps/driveways, and a little softer when you want it super low for whatever reason, that sounds pretty good to me.
maybe you're carrying a little extra weight for the tank and pump, but you can mount that where ever, and it is potentially worth the compromise.
the only thing i dont really know about is if you're typical bag that most people use on cars, that the if they spring rate is linear or progressive etc.. but for a drift car i am sure, as the video demonstrates, it can at least work OK.

25

EvolveWRC Nothing, they have two of them now

26

"As for drifting on air suspension, it works – it really does"
I wont argue with you that it works, but does it work better? This seems to always be debated, but really the only way to answer the question is to do a comparison. and not just the grip levels, or lap times, but stuff like MTBF, heat capacity, actual weight comparison (and not against the OEM suspension, but against a comparable coil-over system.

Yes, air suspension will work in a performance environment, but will it give you that competitive edge is the real question. and if it does give you that competitive edge, what are the parameters of that envelope?

so yes you can use airbags on your sporty car and enjoy the occasional day at the track, but what about the cars that spend 80% of their lives at track days, where consistency and reliability are key. 

also maybe one of the air lift guys can answer this but how well do the bags handle heatsoak from the brake calipers/Rotors?

27

Great article! Fish is awesome!

28

I love that first picture.  it looked like a true monster in your dream in smoke, ready to pounce on you.

29

Here's what I will say. This car is 99% used on the track. I've been to small technical tracks and long high speed tracks with it on air without one issue. I actually couldn't be happier with how it handles. When it comes to heat, there is no issue as well as I have done large 4th gear burnouts and also have caught fire in the rear due to a burnout without the bags feeling a thing. Hope that helps a little!

30
EricSeanDelaney

I remember watching him at Final Bout last year, but I think he was having some trouble. Pretty amazing car in person. So clean.

31

Im pretty sure it is actually. Its either this or a different s14 he owns

32

VIP Kranze rims on a S14.... why?

33

VIP Kranze rims on a S14.... why?

34

ryukyustriker because negative offset,thats why

35
KevinSzymanski

It's at paint right now with it.

36

@Eyesforeward @Eyesforeward  Check out this article we posted about a guy competing in Redline Time Attack Street AWD class.
https://www.airliftperformance.com/blog/lifeonair-cody-miles-drives-it-shows-it-tracks-it-wins/


I can attest to the suspension holding up at track days that I have personally participated in. Heck, at my last drift event a few weeks ago, I exploded a tire to the point where it was slapping against the bag for over half a lap. I untangled the rubber from my control arms then drove it home. 

We have hundreds of on track miles in our shop cars, pushing them as hard as possible while running racing slick tires and track pads with no failures. For some more insight, check out this comparison video where we put our suspension up against some top of the line coilovers.
https://www.airliftperformance.com/blog/airvscoilover/


Hope this helps to answer some of your questions!

37

Fish2556 thanks, that does help. My main complaint is that it is hard to find that information when making a decision. the companies that make these products producing marketing materials that dont even lay out their testing procedures to get their numbers.


for example, how long are your track sessions? have you ever measured the temperature of your air bags? also how does the increase in air temperature affect the entire system? are your cars used for extended grip events too?


I dont know maybe im nit picking, but i would love more information before i considered switching away from a system that has been extensively tested.


the reason i bring up the heat issue is because of thermal expansion, race teams use nitrogen in their tires for more consistant tire pressures. I for one have seen large increases (10 psi +) in my tire pressures from warm up to cool down. how does your pressure regulation system handle this (dealing with injecting cooler air into an air bag that has some pretty warm air in it already)? 

BTW my car is used for Time attack, autox, hill climb and other general grip events including endurance races, some of the places it would be really nice to be able to use an air suspension due to the roughness of the tarmac surface

38

dlaurence01 I can touch on one subject here, weight. This is a very common question I get asked while traveling to Formula D events.

On my personal IS300, I shaved 8-12lbs per corner from the factory components. Unfortunately I did not have aftermarket suspension on my car previously for comparison. Air springs are incredibly light compared to steel coils. One of our springs consists of a rubber air spring and two aluminum end caps with thin steel crimp rings holding it all together. 

As for the tank and control system on my personal car, I have just about broken even with stock weight. The 2.5 gallon aluminum tanks we sell weight around 6 lbs. The control manifold is just under 3 lbs. The heaviest part of the system is the compressor, which in my case weighs 8.6 lbs for our smallest 380C units. This was all mounted on a thin wooden box and secured in my trunk. Hope this helps!

I will let our Performance Manager chime in to provide more insight on spring and damping rates.

39
Speedhunters_Bryn

AprilexHK ryukyustriker And because he wanted to of course!

40
Speedhunters_Bryn

AprilexHK ryukyustriker And because he wanted to of course!

41
Speedhunters_Bryn

@jay I've never seen smoke hang like that before when shooting a burnout, I think it was because it was so cold that the air hung like that. Turned out nice!

42
Speedhunters_Bryn

plainpaul Thank you, and yes he is!

43
Speedhunters_Bryn

purplepunch EvolveWRC Yup, still around. AJ's is looking stronger than ever. If you use Instagram look for 'ill roller'

44
Speedhunters_Bryn

@cancerman LOL

45

Here are the facts of why Air suspension is not used for performance.
Air springs are progressive, which means as the bag compresses the spring rate rapidly increases. Newer bags have stiffer wall to allow lower air pressure to hold the car up but it only increases the progressive rate.  

Road racing cars doesn't have enough travel to take advantage of progressive spring rate.  Due to the rapid rate increase, if you were to get the bags to have higher initial rate, it would be extremely stiff on any compression.  The soft initial rate gets blown through, leaving a limited amount of travel for the stiffer portion.  This actually results in less compliance, less traction and harsher ride on really bumpy surface at "normal" air pressure.  But for most people who have air suspension on the street, the initial softness of the air bag makes the ride squishy enough to be comfortable. 

It is difficult to properly match the dampers to a progressive spring rate.  Add sway bars, which are also variable spring rate and on some cars the dampers are mounted at on angle adding another variable.  Damping is always compromised and having a progressive rate makes the balancing act that much more difficult.  

There's a reason why you don't see air springs on high performance race cars.

46
Too Much Camber Guy

Great article, awesome cars.

47
Too Much Camber Guy

Great article, awesome cars.

48

jasonmay Let me clarify your statement in the first sentence of your post. "Here are the facts of why Air suspension is not used for dedicated road racing cars." We have never said that you should install air suspension on a dedicated road race car. Dedicated road racing cars have no need to adjust ride height on the fly. For performance oriented street cars that need to get up drive ways and over speed bumps, quickly adjusting ride height can be very beneficial. People like Fish are case in point that having a performance "Street" car that sees loads of track use on air suspension is very feasible.

49

I loved starting my day by checking out the junkhouse,I'm with this guy^^bring back junkhouse,
Also I will sell my son for a risky devil sticker,any takers lol

50

Awesome looking car and I am stoked that it gets used in anger...
However, I am a little disappointed that in all the photos here, there are no photos of the air suspension setup...
Surely that is one of the big interest getters of this car since 99% of modded s14s featured here are on coilovers?

51

@Speedhunters So those links establish that Air Lift makes a quality product, has a long history, was (is?) a sizable player in drag and stock car racing, and can make a good street car suspension that also allows it to be slammed when the desire hits.
But that doesn't really answer my core questions about performance. Ok, true, my question pertains more to getting the maximum performance out of a car rather than setting up a stance oriented car that also happens to handle well, but it seems quite relevent anyway since the spring rate will change based on both volume and pressure, which seems directly relevent to a street car anyway.
And with regards to that racing history, is it just me or has the racing side of the business lost the edge it once had? I have been interested in racing for about half my life now (15 years if you're counting), but until about the last three to six months or so I had never heard of Air Lift. Granted I am more interested in road course and rally racing than drag or stock car racing, but I am hardly ignorant of either and I have been interested in the state of the art since day one and it has never been mentioned in any context I have seen.
And speaking of context, I would be interested in the context of those performance tests that so conveniently show air coming out ahead every time. Were they comparing stock suspensions, which are designed for stability and have a strong tendancy to understeer, with a performance oriented air system? Were any other parts changed? Are they cherry picking their results? I for one would be very interested to see a shootout between a top shelf air system compared with a top shelf coilover setup, say KW, with as many variables as possible accounted for to see who comes out on top. Any one from Air Lift reading this?

52

@Speedhunters So those links establish that Air Lift makes a quality product, has a long history, was (is?) a sizable player in drag and stock car racing, and can make a good street car suspension that also allows it to be slammed when the desire hits.
But that doesn't really answer my core questions about performance. Ok, true, my question pertains more to getting the maximum performance out of a car rather than setting up a stance oriented car that also happens to handle well, but it seems quite relevent anyway since the spring rate will change based on both volume and pressure, which seems directly relevent to a street car anyway.
And with regards to that racing history, is it just me or has the racing side of the business lost the edge it once had? I have been interested in racing for about half my life now (15 years if you're counting), but until about the last three to six months or so I had never heard of Air Lift. Granted I am more interested in road course and rally racing than drag or stock car racing, but I am hardly ignorant of either and I have been interested in the state of the art since day one and it has never been mentioned in any context I have seen.
And speaking of context, I would be interested in the context of those performance tests that so conveniently show air coming out ahead every time. Were they comparing stock suspensions, which are designed for stability and have a strong tendancy to understeer, with a performance oriented air system? Were any other parts changed? Are they cherry picking their results? I for one would be very interested to see a shootout between a top shelf air system compared with a top shelf coilover setup, say KW, with as many variables as possible accounted for to see who comes out on top. Any one from Air Lift reading this?

53

Mercedes, Lincoln and Citroen are known more for their "limos" and luxury/comfort offerings than their sports cars, so it doesn't really help the air argument. And before bringing AMG into the picture, if I remember correctly when Mercedes was big into air springs maybe five years ago AMG replaced the air springs with coils because feedback indicated the coils were more stable and preferred by drivers.
But it does sound like for a quick street car air has it's merits. After all, Air Lift wouldn't be around 60 years later if they were selling products no one wanted.

54

Mercedes, Lincoln and Citroen are known more for their "limos" and luxury/comfort offerings than their sports cars, so it doesn't really help the air argument. And before bringing AMG into the picture, if I remember correctly when Mercedes was big into air springs maybe five years ago AMG replaced the air springs with coils because feedback indicated the coils were more stable and preferred by drivers.
But it does sound like for a quick street car air has it's merits. After all, Air Lift wouldn't be around 60 years later if they were selling products no one wanted.

55

Thanks for using my ClubFR DD47 video!

56

@ADimitriRoumeliotis I realize the air is only the spring, but a spring needs damping in a performance setting to work, hence my questions about spring and damper rates. And to answer your question, a simple air spring will be extremely progressive; halving the volume doubles the pressure unless some of the air mass is released. Hence an air spring's spring rate could vary wildly over a suspension's travel unless there is enough volume to keep the rate relatively constant or there is an active system that can release or add pressure fast enough to keep up with a moving suspension.
And as for complexity, Audi pioneered AWD systems and Nissan is taking a FWD to Le Mans, so I don't think complexity alone is enough to deter a race team that sees a performance advantage.

57

@ADimitriRoumeliotis I realize the air is only the spring, but a spring needs damping in a performance setting to work, hence my questions about spring and damper rates. And to answer your question, a simple air spring will be extremely progressive; halving the volume doubles the pressure unless some of the air mass is released. Hence an air spring's spring rate could vary wildly over a suspension's travel unless there is enough volume to keep the rate relatively constant or there is an active system that can release or add pressure fast enough to keep up with a moving suspension.
And as for complexity, Audi pioneered AWD systems and Nissan is taking a FWD to Le Mans, so I don't think complexity alone is enough to deter a race team that sees a performance advantage.

58

@AirLift_Lucas 30 pounds is definitely lighter than I imagined, but I am curious how it would compare to a quality coilover. What is the overall weight of the spring and damper setup you installed? And I would be very interested to hear from your Performance Manager regarding the technical stuff.

59

@AirLift_Lucas 30 pounds is definitely lighter than I imagined, but I am curious how it would compare to a quality coilover. What is the overall weight of the spring and damper setup you installed? And I would be very interested to hear from your Performance Manager regarding the technical stuff.

60

So D-Max and Origin parts=cardboard?? Come on..you sound silly.

61

dlaurence01 Mercedes actually got into the air suspension system with the W220 S-Class in 1999, however the Airmatic system sucked worse than the ABC system, AMG actually preferred using the old nitrogen/hydraulic coil-spring setup to the newer air systems up to around 2006 when the bugs had all been worked out.

I'm curious how air suspension fairs in terms of reliability on a particularly on a performance scale. I've seen W220 and 221 cars, even Range Rovers sit flat on their asses after the air system fails but far fewer with hydraulic and coil spring setups. My question is, if air suspension is so good, how come we only see it on VIP sleds and the Hella-Flush communities; why don't we ever see it on serious performance cars? We'll spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours designing our suspensions but still go with steel coils and sway bars, how is the air suspension better than these on an out and out performance car?

62

@Trentworth From what I can tell, it looks like AMG is either sticking to their guns or is going back to the since "The new [2015] C63 AMG eschews the air suspension that is being made available as an option on various new C-class models for the first time, receiving a heavily reworked version of its more conventional steel-sprung arrangement". So I guess there are still some bugs in the system, and it does make me wonder what it would take to make it work if even Mercedes and AMG decided it wasn't worth it.

63

@Trentworth From what I can tell, it looks like AMG is either sticking to their guns or is going back to the since "The new [2015] C63 AMG eschews the air suspension that is being made available as an option on various new C-class models for the first time, receiving a heavily reworked version of its more conventional steel-sprung arrangement". So I guess there are still some bugs in the system, and it does make me wonder what it would take to make it work if even Mercedes and AMG decided it wasn't worth it.

64

ryukyustriker  because why not?

65

ryukyustriker  because why not?

66

How did they flare the fenders that far out? They look badass!!!

67

Just no.

68

Just no.

70

AirLift_Lucas jasonmay it's performance in the entertainment sense of the word, but he's not in a competition where he is looking for every last advantage hence the air set up. I think you could both agree to disagree but the parts meet the needs the requirements and in drifting the requirements are very low while in racing they are very high.

71

AirLift_Lucas jasonmay it's performance in the entertainment sense of the word, but he's not in a competition where he is looking for every last advantage hence the air set up. I think you could both agree to disagree but the parts meet the needs the requirements and in drifting the requirements are very low while in racing they are very high.

72

jasonmay
Thanks for providing your opinion on the subject in an
intelligent fashion. This kind of
conversation is always better than lobbing pure conjecture and bias in an attempt
to validate a point of view!
Before we get into the technical side of your point, let me
thank the others here that have chimed in with their EXPERIENCE with the
product.A wise man once said “a man
with experience has more wisdom than a man with a theory”. And those that have experienced a proper air
suspension set-up (including many of the Speedhunters staff) can vouch for its
capabilities.I may be wrong here, but I’m
betting that you have not had the opportunity to drive/ride in a car with our
Performance suspension.Because if you
had, you would be like all the others that I have given rides to that get in
the car a skeptic, and exit the car a believer.This has happened on the street and the track…100% of the time.
As an example, I let
a certain vehicle dynamics engineer from Ford SVT drive our Mustang at
Gingerman Raceway on race tires.He is responsible
for all of the ride and handling tuning on SVT Mustang as well as many go fast
projects including race spec stuff, and has raced Mustangs and Vipers for many
years..I have a 2 minute rant on video
of him lauding how well the car turns-in, how little roll there is (stock front
swaybar, slightly larger rear and all OEM parts except our air kit and pulling
1.4gs) how much less nose dive there is under braking (we had Baer brakes and
race pads so braking above 1g) and how nicely it put the power down.He was blown away that this was air
suspension, as were the other guys from Ford that went for rides. I can also put Vaughn Gittin JR in that
category, after he drove the same car at the Ford Proving Grounds.
There are many, many more instances with the same outcome.The point here is that we can talk about the
finer points of the technology all day, but to truly understand it is to get
out there and experience it.Sometimes
the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
Now, on to the tech side.You correctly identify the rate characteristics of air springs to be
progressive rate.This is true except
when a tapered sleeve is used with a reverse taperedpiston designed to create linear rate.We don’t use any like that but they are out
there FWIW.
You infer that all race set-ups are linear rate, therefore
progressive rates are no good.This is
false on many fronts.Any coil over with
a jounce bumper has a progressive rate.While it is not necessarily always engages, its output is
non-linear.Many real race cars run
stacked springs to create a non-linear wheel rates.And many formula cars or any with inboard
rocker arm style-suspension, also have progressive (typically rising) rate
set-ups.Then, there is the off-road and
rally crowd…So lots of racers have
taken advantage of some level of rising rate. Oh, and you were correct in
stating that almost every production suspension is progressive to some degree
because the motion ratio changes with suspension travel.
Depending on the weight and wheel travel available, race
cars can easily use 2-3 inches of bump travel especially when hitting
curbs.Maybe an Indy car doesn’t, but a
low aero car certainly will.We deal
with street cars in our business so they are heavy and have travel.The typical initial rates on our springs
might surprise you how stiff they are.And
this is why pitch and roll attitude are well managed and not “squishy” as you
put it.. But they still remain compliant enough to handle pretty rough roads
because they don’t output the same level of sideloading on the dampers that a
coil spring does.So initial inputs are
easily absorbed and properly damped.So
let me give a practical example: the same pressure and ride height that allows
the Mustang to pull 1.4g’s on race slicks can be driven across a recessed set
of railroad tracks at speed and not bottom out.The air spring force output builds progressively
for sure, but not at some astronomical rate that makes the chassis shudder from
a sudden kick like when your coil-overs pummel the jounce bumper..
To dovetail on my last point, the force progressivity is not
so crazy that dampers cannot keep up.An
air spring requires a slightly different plan than a coil to be most effective
but the feeling behind the wheel is the same.And realize that every damper is a compromise at some level.What may be good for low speed cornering with
bumps will not be good for a 150mph sweeper.We have the same compromises to make, but they are more geared to street
driving vs track.We just have more
knobs to turn in the same kit to get you what you want for either situation.
Lastly, it continues to crack me up how many people have
improperly understood that we were somehow saying that air was better than
coils for pure race cars!That is not
the case at all.Our niche is cars that
are BOTH street and occasional track cars.Air is a great solution for those that don’t want to give up street
manners to enjoy their favorite track on weekends. We can hang with some pretty good coil-over
set ups when it comes to going fast. The big difference with a pure race car is
it has absolutely no street pretensions!I have a race car…does it have air? NO!Because air sucks?NO!Because I don’t need to go up and down to get
into McD’s or care about the slammed aesthetic.
Choose the tool that’s the best for YOUR intended
usage.Do nothing but trailer your car
to the track? Ohlins, Bilstein, KW, H&R etc all have great products for
you.Drive your car to work and hit the
track a few times a year?Hey, we’ve got
something that will not disappoint you on either front.

73

jasonmay
Thanks for providing your opinion on the subject in an
intelligent fashion. This kind of
conversation is always better than lobbing pure conjecture and bias in an attempt
to validate a point of view!
Before we get into the technical side of your point, let me
thank the others here that have chimed in with their EXPERIENCE with the
product.A wise man once said “a man
with experience has more wisdom than a man with a theory”. And those that have experienced a proper air
suspension set-up (including many of the Speedhunters staff) can vouch for its
capabilities.I may be wrong here, but I’m
betting that you have not had the opportunity to drive/ride in a car with our
Performance suspension.Because if you
had, you would be like all the others that I have given rides to that get in
the car a skeptic, and exit the car a believer.This has happened on the street and the track…100% of the time.
As an example, I let
a certain vehicle dynamics engineer from Ford SVT drive our Mustang at
Gingerman Raceway on race tires.He is responsible
for all of the ride and handling tuning on SVT Mustang as well as many go fast
projects including race spec stuff, and has raced Mustangs and Vipers for many
years..I have a 2 minute rant on video
of him lauding how well the car turns-in, how little roll there is (stock front
swaybar, slightly larger rear and all OEM parts except our air kit and pulling
1.4gs) how much less nose dive there is under braking (we had Baer brakes and
race pads so braking above 1g) and how nicely it put the power down.He was blown away that this was air
suspension, as were the other guys from Ford that went for rides. I can also put Vaughn Gittin JR in that
category, after he drove the same car at the Ford Proving Grounds.
There are many, many more instances with the same outcome.The point here is that we can talk about the
finer points of the technology all day, but to truly understand it is to get
out there and experience it.Sometimes
the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
Now, on to the tech side.You correctly identify the rate characteristics of air springs to be
progressive rate.This is true except
when a tapered sleeve is used with a reverse taperedpiston designed to create linear rate.We don’t use any like that but they are out
there FWIW.
You infer that all race set-ups are linear rate, therefore
progressive rates are no good.This is
false on many fronts.Any coil over with
a jounce bumper has a progressive rate.While it is not necessarily always engages, its output is
non-linear.Many real race cars run
stacked springs to create a non-linear wheel rates.And many formula cars or any with inboard
rocker arm style-suspension, also have progressive (typically rising) rate
set-ups.Then, there is the off-road and
rally crowd…So lots of racers have
taken advantage of some level of rising rate. Oh, and you were correct in
stating that almost every production suspension is progressive to some degree
because the motion ratio changes with suspension travel.
Depending on the weight and wheel travel available, race
cars can easily use 2-3 inches of bump travel especially when hitting
curbs.Maybe an Indy car doesn’t, but a
low aero car certainly will.We deal
with street cars in our business so they are heavy and have travel.The typical initial rates on our springs
might surprise you how stiff they are.And
this is why pitch and roll attitude are well managed and not “squishy” as you
put it.. But they still remain compliant enough to handle pretty rough roads
because they don’t output the same level of sideloading on the dampers that a
coil spring does.So initial inputs are
easily absorbed and properly damped.So
let me give a practical example: the same pressure and ride height that allows
the Mustang to pull 1.4g’s on race slicks can be driven across a recessed set
of railroad tracks at speed and not bottom out.The air spring force output builds progressively
for sure, but not at some astronomical rate that makes the chassis shudder from
a sudden kick like when your coil-overs pummel the jounce bumper..
To dovetail on my last point, the force progressivity is not
so crazy that dampers cannot keep up.An
air spring requires a slightly different plan than a coil to be most effective
but the feeling behind the wheel is the same.And realize that every damper is a compromise at some level.What may be good for low speed cornering with
bumps will not be good for a 150mph sweeper.We have the same compromises to make, but they are more geared to street
driving vs track.We just have more
knobs to turn in the same kit to get you what you want for either situation.
Lastly, it continues to crack me up how many people have
improperly understood that we were somehow saying that air was better than
coils for pure race cars!That is not
the case at all.Our niche is cars that
are BOTH street and occasional track cars.Air is a great solution for those that don’t want to give up street
manners to enjoy their favorite track on weekends. We can hang with some pretty good coil-over
set ups when it comes to going fast. The big difference with a pure race car is
it has absolutely no street pretensions!I have a race car…does it have air? NO!Because air sucks?NO!Because I don’t need to go up and down to get
into McD’s or care about the slammed aesthetic.
Choose the tool that’s the best for YOUR intended
usage.Do nothing but trailer your car
to the track? Ohlins, Bilstein, KW, H&R etc all have great products for
you.Drive your car to work and hit the
track a few times a year?Hey, we’ve got
something that will not disappoint you on either front.

74
Speedhunters_Bryn

Qu1N7 Just yes!

75
Speedhunters_Bryn

Qu1N7 Just yes!

76
Speedhunters_Bryn

Eletor Thanks for making it, in years to come historians will look back at footage like that and work out why dinosaurs died. Probably. 

Seriously, thanks!

77
Speedhunters_Bryn

Eletor Thanks for making it, in years to come historians will look back at footage like that and work out why dinosaurs died. Probably. 

Seriously, thanks!

78

Cheers Brian!

79

Speedhunters_Bryn purplepunch EvolveWRC yes Ive talked to AJ a few times on facebook. Hes still messin with the IS.

80

Can anyone from speed hunters or fish tell me about the other suspension/chassis parts on here.   after reading this article i am doing a lot of research on possibility of air suspension on my new project s15.  is it possible to still run all of the usual arms and or hub setups (like wisefab) for extra lock with an air ride kit like this?  as any track and drifting work would be non competitive - seems like for a fun street car air ride could be the way forward...

thanks for your time
tommo

81

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