Around a decade ago now, when the Purple Pig first came into my possession, one of the first jobs after replacing the entire lower 8 inches of bodywork and chopping the roof, was to cut the front coil springs and add dropped spindles, and fit crazy 6-inch lowering blocks to the rear. Just before the '49 was loaded on a British ship bound for California, I C-notched the rear of the chassis, still with the leaf springs and blocks. The car has always ridden low-probably too low as it had a mere 1/4-inch of suspension travel until I notched the frame, so when its long-overdue revamp was planned, rear airbags were part of the equation. Indeed, they'd been the intended reason for the C-notch.

However, with the inclusion of the Classic Performance Products trailing arm rear suspension, the notion of 'bags was quickly ousted in favor of ShockWaves (from Air Ride Technologies, now known as RideTech), and followers of the project will remember the rear of the car sitting very low with aluminum ShockWaves when the rearend install was complete. Unfortunately for me, those were merely on loan from CPP! I figured I'd only run ShockWaves in back, as the coil-sprung Chassis Engineering IFS that came next would work just fine, thank you. But it just wasn't low enough for my liking, despite setting the neat adjustable upper spring mounts to their highest (and hence lowest ride height) setting. I'll admit I like my cars lower than most, though still with a safe scrubline, and the Chassis Engineering suspension is ideal for many people. When I heard that RideTech was introducing budget versions of the ShockWave in steel, known as the Black Series, not only did they appeal to my lowly journalistic pocketbook, but I could see a way to get the front of the Chevy as low as the rear.

Which in my usual drawn-out fashion, brings me to this latest installment of the Project '49. Until now all the parts used on the Chevy have been of a bolt-in design, a conscious move on my part to show how a project car can be built with minimal fabrication. OK, there's been a little welding, such as the bearing mount in the steering linkage, but in the main everything was bolted in. Until now. While the CPP rear suspension is designed for the ShockWaves to bolt to brackets on the trailing arms, upper mounts had to be fabricated owing to my C-notch. Up front, however, I had some planning and fabrication to undertake; likewise in the trunk, where the air pump, tank, and solenoid block were to be mounted. While there's no reason to go as fab-crazy as I did back there, as you'll see, this all needs mounting somewhere. So the air suspension installation will be split into two parts, with the heavy fabrication work covered this month, and the plumbing, electrical hookups, electronic suspension management system, and level sensors in the next issue. So with the welder fired up, grinders and air tools at the ready, and the Emergency Room on standby, let's begin.

Steel Yourself Introduced in 1999, the original aluminum-bodied ShockWave, now called the Master Series, was a significant development in air suspension, allowing the air spring and shock absorber to become a single component, rather than having to mount shocks off the side of suspension arms and the like. RideTech invented the ShockWave, and holds two U.S. patents for the design and function. Over the past decade, the Master Series has been refined, now offering single or double adjustable shock valving, optional internal ride height sensors, multiple air spring configurations, and a wide range of stroke lengths, load capacities, and mounting styles, the most common being eye or stud mounts.