By now just about everyone knows that airbags are the hot setup for custom rods. With the flick of a switch they can provide your ride with soft, supple suspension for comfortable cruising or rub the rocker panels on the pavement for proper profiling; certainly no other system offers such flexibility.

While air suspension systems obviously have a lot to offer, there is one complaint that is voiced from time to time, and it has to do with time; how long it takes for the bags to raise or lower the car. In most cases reaction time of air suspension systems, particularly when picking the car up off the ground, could best be described as lethargic. But there is a way to speed things up, and it comes from the crew at MIC, Master Image Customs.

Size Really Does Matter
As with most air suspension suppliers, MIC specifies particular bags for certain applications, but what sets them apart are the control system options that they offer, and it's the control system that dictates the speed at which the bags raise and lower the car. In most cases, air suspension systems are plumbed with 1/4-inch lines and fittings. And, while adequate in most cases, quicker inflation rates demand larger lines, so MIC gives you some other choices. The first is their High Flow design with 3/8-inch lines and fittings. While a 1/8-inch increase in component size doesn't sound like much, MIC claims that the system is three times faster than its smaller counterpart.

Although the High Flow 3/8-inch system offers a noteworthy reduction in inflation time, MIC wasn't done yet. For those who like instant gratification, the new Mass Flow system is about to be unveiled. Utilizing 1/2-inch valves, fittings, and lines, this system has as close to an instantaneous response as is possible.

Manual Versus Electric
Along with different size plumbing, MIC also offers the choice of manual or electrical control panels. With the manual system, air from the supply tank is distributed by valves mounted in the passenger compartment. The system may be divided front to back with two valves, or all four bags may be controlled individually with four valves. Manual systems are available in three configurations: Fast Manual 1/4-inch; High Flow 3/8-inch; and the new Mass Flow
1/2-inch.

The second control panel option from MIC is electric. With this style switches operate solenoids, which in turn control the airflow that fills or empties the bags. Electric systems are offered in High Flow 3/8- or Mass Flow 1/2-inch designs. Like the manual style, the electric system can be divided front to back or all four bags can be operated independently, which also provides side-to-side control. In addition, up to eight solenoids can be included to make your car move in every conceivable manner, and do it quickly.

The basics of air suspension are well documented; they have been proven to be functional, reliable, and safe. Their only shortcoming seems to be their inability to change ride height quickly, but now that has been addressed. Maybe it's time to think about a change in altitude for your custom rod.

Photos Courtesy of MIC