Custom kits

Close up of DeLorean rear end
Cantilever rear air suspension
Quad Bag rear suspension

Although our main business is the manufacturing and sales of bolt on kits, every month we receive a dozen or so enquiries asking whether we can make a custom kit. Most of the time it's for vehicles where no air suspension solution exists (for instance, classic cars) but sometimes it's because the customer is trying to achieve something very specific, for instance, a 7 inch drop on a Merc or a 6 inch lift on a Porsche (this weeks examples) and none of the existing air suspension kits can offer that.

We have some incredibly experienced staff here at AirRide with a background in custom car building and engineering meaning we can take on some very challenging projects and come up with air suspension solutions that no-one else had successfully brought to the market. The downside is that it costs. A lot. For instance, we'd charge about £5000 for parts and labour to install a bolt on kit. For custom work, prices start from £6000 and that's for simpler projects where the universal parts need only minor tweaking in order to fit the vehicle and achieve customer requirements.

For larger projects with lots of fabrication, testing and development costs can range between £10 000 - 15 000. We once had a customer who spent £20 000 with us to develop a super custom product, and traders wanting a fully developed conversion can spend double that.  Sometimes, when we quote them, potential customers think we're taking the mickey and just email them random prices because we don't want to do the work. This is not the case. Developing an air suspension kit involves far more than putting together some airbags and plates, mounting them onto the vehicle and running airline. Whilst that will get you lifting up and down its not a developed air suspension conversion which needs a whole lot more work. On some projects it can take hundreds of hours to design and manufacture brackets and that's before testing - we've had occasions when what should work in theory does not work in practice meaning the brackets needed re-designing which resulted in dozens of hours added to the project which, inevitably, drives up the cost. And that's just the air suspension part! Cutting of the subframe and other parts of the vehicle might also be required, depending on what the customer is trying to achieve. A properly developed air suspension conversion does not just go up and down - it needs to ride right, and clear so the bags don't get damaged. That takes a lot longer to complete.

We're upfront about this and have advised people in the past against air suspension. For instance, sometimes people have a pickup truck, which naturally sits high up, and an aging dog and they want to be able to lower it for them. In this case we advise to consider either get a ramp or consider changing vehicles.

The same goes for motorhomes and campers that are 30+ years old. Yes, we can put it on air but its often more cost effective to sell the recreational vehicle if the ride quality is so bad and buy a newer one?

Another common reaction, when we explain the potential costs, is for people to ask if we could send them the custom parts to save on labour costs. The answer is no. Custom means that the parts are designed from scratch here in Norwich and they're designed and tested for fit on the vehicle. We absolutely need the vehicle here and it has to stay in our workshop for the duration of the project. It's not possible to leave it here for a day so we could take measurements, drive home and come back some time later to pick up the parts. Custom kits can take anything between 6 weeks and 12 weeks to design and make and the vehicle needs to be with us the entire time. There is no other way. Asking for custom parts to be sent to you without the vehicle coming here is a bit like phoning up a plastic surgeon and asking if they can do the treatment without you being present.

Questions? Please call us on 0800 772 0315 or send an email to  ENQUIRIES@AIRRIDE.UK