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2004 Ford F-150 Bolt-On Air Suspension - Bolt-On Adjustability

Stillen And Air Ride Technologies Slam A New F-150

Calin Head
Apr 1, 2007
Photographers: Calin Head
Photo 2/23   |   Here is the Stillen F-150 at full height...
When it comes to getting your truck ultra-low, you only have a couple options. You can cut a bunch of coils off of the springs, like we did in the old days, and drive around in a constant state of pucker-butt. Having an ultra low static dropped truck will have you driving very cautiously to keep the tires from rubbing the fenders and the frame from smacking the ground. Option two is an adjustable setup, either air or hydraulics. Either of these two would be much better for the ultra-low stance. You can have it low when you want to profile, and raise it up to tackle inconsistencies in the road.
Let's get a little deeper on the adjustable stuff because having a static truck that low is just a pain. So, now the question becomes hydros or air? In today's market, hydros are a viable option, but there is a lack of bolt-in systems out there. Also, when a juice setup leaks, it makes a big mess-at least an air leak is clean.
Photo 3/23   |   ...and here it is at full dump. You can tell from these images, the system has more than enough articulation to go past ride height and still plant the frame.
So, air becomes the system of choice for us, but now we have to decide whether we go with a bolt-in system or a fully fabricated setup? As much as we like cutting and fabricating steel, bolt-in stuff goes in quicker and with less hassle. We're not sure if you notice where we are going with this story, but let's cut to the chase. We want a 'bag system that lets us set the truck down to that ultra-low level and requires no welding.
It just so happens that when we were over at Stillen having the blower put on a Nissan Titan, there was a new Ford F-150 in the parking lot. This Ford was sitting way too low to be static-dropped, so we inquired about it and the marketing guy, John Zinn, told us it had an entire Air Ride Technologies 'bag system on it. Obviously, the parts were already installed, so we hopped in the truck for a drive to see how well the system worked. Not only does the truck do what 'bags are for, to go low, it also handled exceptionally well. We were almost surprised at how well the truck drove and yet still pulled corners that hard. After our little performance lap around the Stillen facility, we threw the truck up on the lift to see how it all went in. Again, we were surprised, this time at how simple the install looked-and the four-link out back completely bolts in.
Check out what we saw when the truck was up in the air, and you can decide if this system is right for your Ford project. We would like to thank the whole crew at Stillen for downing one of their lifts for the shoot and letting us beat up on their project truck.
Here is the Air Ride Technologies (ART) AirBar four-link, ShockWave, and LevelPro leveling system that were installed on Stillen's '04 Ford F-150. The ShockWave will go in front and replace the factory unit. The AirBar will replace the factory leaf springs, and the LevelPro will make it easy to get the truck right where it belongs.
Photo 20/23   |   ford F150 cut Shockwave
If you were wondering how ART constructs the ShockWave, then wonder no more. ART sent us this cut-away shot to show the double O-ring seals and how the 'bags are attached to the shock.

Photo 21/23   |   ford F150 removed Stock Parts
Besides the spare tire, these will be the only stock parts removed from the truck. It's kind of funny that this is all that came off, considering how much stuff went on.

Riding down the road, the truck feels just a little smoother than a truck running performance springs and shocks. It's nothing too harsh but definitely not a stock ride, which is to be expected from a lowered truck.
What was not expected was how well the truck corners. We sat in the back of the truck as we rounded this corner well past 30 mph. That may not sound like a lot, but the driver didn't swing out to straighten the line of the corner, so we did this 90 degree turn at 30-plus mph.


Costa Mesa, CA 92626



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