As it was recently revealed on the blog, the individual who opted for bags was Mario! Yup, he has “ruined” his ST (I couldn’t resist typing that, since it’s a common response to air. I think it’s awesome though) by replacing his coilovers with this setup. Now height adjustment takes just the push of a button. This was a project that we completed with the help of many friends, and it absolutely couldn’t have been done without them.
For those wondering what kind of workload to expect when installing air; we generally had four to six people working at a time, and this was a full weekend project. We started early on a Friday and finished the car that Sunday afternoon. We were still working until about 1:30am both Saturday and Sunday mornings before finally calling it quits for the night, and we would resume around noon.
Part of the challenge was due to our timing of the install – the roads were covered in snow and slush, much of which was sprayed all over the ST’s undercarriage. Not only was it cold that weekend, there was a continual supply of melting snow which kept the garage floor soaked for most of the time. Conditions were less than ideal, and if we ever do something like this again I hope it’s during a warmer time of the year.
On top of the snow issue, we had limited space under the car since it was supported by jackstands, and we often had to rely on flashlights to see what we were doing. Regardless, it wasn’t long before we were making real progress and we were pleased.
Yet another challenge however was due to this kit being a prototype, and coming with no instructions. This just sounds better and better, doesn’t it? We were able to figure it out though as once the system is broken down, it’s not overly complex (in theory) and it wasn’t too hard to figure out which wire or hose went where.
The rear of the car was swapped to airbags first, with the front taken care of on the second day. Shown here is one of the rear bags next to the old parts for comparison. The white arms are quite visible from the back of the car, which works out well considering the colour Mario chose when he ordered his new wheels (more on those in a future post).
The ride height is measured using a sensor on each corner, and the system continually checks and adjusts to ensure the vehicle stays at whatever height it’s currently set to. That is, if the vehicle is adjusted with no passengers or cargo inside, and then several hundred pounds of people and luggage were to be added (compressing the suspension) the system would air the car back up to where it was. Very handy.
With the rear bags in we put the rear wheels back on and set the car down. This was the first opportunity to get an idea of how the ST would sit, and boy did we like what we saw.
From there we carried on and as mentioned, would work until after midnight before finally calling it quits and going to get some rest.
Despite promising initial progress though, we did have some hurdles during the install. We had some issues with small air leaks, a bad ground prevented the system from working at all when we first set it up, and then we had trouble getting the system to calibrate. At one point both rear lines even blew out of their fittings on the bags, which was rather loud. Still though, even though none of us had any experience installing air before we were able to finish it. It was Sunday morning around 1am when we saw the car air up and down for the first time, and it was incredible. After getting some rest, we spent Sunday afternoon taking care of some final troubleshooting and also tidying up some loose wires and cleaning the install up overall. Finally the car could be taken out for a test drive and we got to see the finished product. It was absolutely worth it.
Not only did the ST look amazing dumped, as I mentioned this install was pretty significant. Mario now owns the first Mk3 ST in all of Canada to be fitted with air. There were only four in the USA (three currently) before his, as well.
A big thanks goes out to Dave, Derrick, Kanji, and Shane for their help in getting this installed and working! They gave up many hours from their weekend to help see this through to completion and with everyone’s varying talents and expertise we could call it a success.
Now we can’t help but wonder though, who’s next? As far as I know, no one has bagged a Mk3 sedan yet…
Nicely written! Good Job Bill!