When we left Project Get Shorty last month, the frame had just been buttoned back up, and it was time to start putting things back together. Like we said before, the '71's underpinnings aren't going to be the stock trailing arms, coil springs, control arms, etc. Instead, a complete setup from Air Ride Technologies is going to take its place.

As every truck and hot rod enthusiast knows, the rear suspension setup on '63-72 Chevy trucks is more than adequate. In fact, it's so consistent and proficient that to this day every NASCAR running the oval utilizes the same Chevy truck arm suspension designed in the '60s. Knowing the rear suspension's history, Air Ride Technologies (ART) has retained the basic blueprint but refined a few areas to accommodate lowered, air-suspended vehicles with their new STRONGARM kit.

For starters, one of the key developments on the new ART kit is the C-notch plates. In order to get the truck's rear as low to the ground as possible without cutting the bed floor, ART designed a bolt-in C-notch. By cutting a minimal amount out of the frame and bolting up the new plates, the truck's rear can lay as close to the ground as possible.

Another area that ART honed in on is the trailing arm crossmember. Because the suspension geometry, mounting locations, and more are the same as stock, the ART kit can be used with the stock trailing arm crossmember. The new ART crossmember is basically the same, but with one vital advantage: Since the truck can now be dumped on the ground, something had to be done with the exhaust. The old crossmember enabled the exhaust to either run underneath the crossmember or to the side, which defeats the purpose of laying the truck out if the exhaust is going to hang low and hit. To solve the problem, ART developed a tubular crossmember with adequate room to run the exhaust through the crossmember, eliminating any clearance issues.

With the question of clearance out of the way, ART's next move was to make sure the rearend geometry stayed the same throughout the range of travel. One area of focus was to make sure the rearend wasn't engaging in excessive lateral movement, or in laymen's terms, moving side to side, due to the insufficient Panhard bar setup. To compensate for the stock Panhard bar system, ART designed a billet aluminum bracket that bolts from the 12-bolt housing to the frame. The new Panhard bar and mount keep the rearend stationary and the truck tracking straight. The other area that needed attention was making sure the pinion angle was within spec during travel. To solve this, ART designed a new bracket that attaches to the tubular trailing arms and keeps the pinion angle where it should be.

Up front, it was basically the same story. The front suspension on a stock '63-72 will work, but in order to maximize ground clearance and the full travel of an air-suspended frontend, Air Ride designed an entire bolt-on front suspension, also dubbed the StrongArm kit. Replacing the stock A-arms are new tubular control arms designed and built by ART. The new upper and lower A-arms come complete with bushings, ball joints, and cross-shafts, which means all one has to do to install the arms is bolt them up. ART also equips the arms with the correct year of ball joints that fit the stock spindles. As for mounting the air spring, all one has to do is drill a few holes and bolt the mounting plate to the upper spring pocket.

Another area ART improved is the frame mounting stud for the shock absorber. On a stock setup, the upper shock mount is bolted to a lone standing stud off the framerail that is prone to breaking. ART designed a solid upper shock mount that bolts to the frame that can take the punishment of everyday use. Along with the rear suspension, the front suspension parts are all jig-assembled and hand-MIG welded. Not to mention all the brackets are laser-cut and CNC-machined for a precise fit.

For Project Get Shorty, Air Ride Technologies sent us a complete front and rear STRONGARM kit with CoolRide airbags. They also sent us a RideProE system and the new LevelPro system, which we will install in an upcoming issue. As for this installment, we bolted up the front and rear suspension with no problems at all. The only tricky part was determining the new wheelbase pickup points since we shortened the frame, but even that is only a series of measurements. Check it out.

Air Ride Technologies
350 S. Charles St
IN  47546
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