Wayne Cook
May 13, 2006
Photos By: Allen Cornelius
This trick '69 features DuPont Hot Hues paint, TMI custom carbon-fiber-look upholstery, and a Paxton NOVI supercharged Windsor underhood. We'll bring you a full feature in an upcoming issue now that the Air Ride suspension is complete. Stay tuned.

A friend of ours has been burning the midnight oil on a '69 Mustang SportsRoof project. One of the main things he wanted was a suspension setup that could be adjusted to support changing load demands such as when the car is packed for a long road trip or when there are backseat passengers. We know that when a couple of people pile in the back of our classic Fords, the ride height changes and suspension travel is reduced.

Here's the complete AirBAR rear suspension for the '69 Mustang. The kit is PN ABAR20000 and retails for $1,995. The bracket or truss at the top of the photo attaches to the car using both the old rear shock mounting points and the new threaded U-bolts that are installed into the car's rear framerails. Also shown are the lower trailing arms and the shorter upper arms. All of the required mounting hardware is seen, as well as the two air spring assemblies.

To remedy this situation, many owners install regular air shocks. This is a bad idea because the shock mounting points were never designed to carry any additional load. The purpose of the factory shocks was to dampen the suspension movement only. If a pothole is encountered with the rear air shocks pumped up, there is a good possibility that the top of the shock will punch right through the upper mounting point--which is simply sheetmetal, after all--damaging the car and suddenly returning the extra load back onto the rear leaf springs.

After some research, we settled on the new air suspension system from Air Ride Technologies that works at all four corners of the vehicle. This setup is not a half-baked solution like regular air shocks, and the whole suspension can be adjusted from inside the car at the touch of a button. Dual on-board compressors and an air storage tank make it possible. In fact, the Air Ride system does away with the springs on the car entirely, replacing them with a carefully designed arrangement that can be adjusted at each corner of the car independently. At the back axle, the leaf springs are replaced by upper and lower trailing arms in a configuration similar to that found on many modern cars. The front suspension loses the coil springs, and the entire weight of the front end is supported by the Air Ride Technology air springs.

Shown here is Air Ride's RidePro e compressor system (PN ARC4100E, $1,299) which includes all fittings, an air tank, pressure sensors, solenoids, two compressors, and all of the needed wiring. The control unit shown mounts inside the car for finger-tip control while moving or stopped.

With the technical assistance of Jamie Reynolds, a complete installation was accomplished on the '69 Mustang in short order. The only tool we needed that isn't commonly found in a home garage was a welder for the upper trailing-arm-bracket installation on the rear axlehousing. But since you'll be removing the complete rear suspension, you can always truck your axlehousing to a job shop for the 10 minutes of welding required to mount the brackets.

Follow the installation sequence, and you'll see that the Air Ride Technologies system is both innovative and straightforward.