Fitting the most advanced air suspension system available to a 50 year-old vintage car is smarter than you’d think.

Instead of traditional coil springs my Pontiac uses inflatable air bags, controlled by a series of valves and switches with air held in a trunk-mounted tank. Traditionally these systems are slow to fill (even with two compressors), take up a lot of space in the car, and are noisy and hot. They can also have issues with sticky valves and water build-up inside the tank.

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However, they are also a great idea for large cruiser-type vehicles as they allow you to glide over tall speedhumps or into steep driveways without scraping the underside of your car. And there are companies like Accuair which sell advanced management systems to keep the car’s ride height level, and able to be adjusted at the touch of a button.

I am running one of Accuair’s ENDO air set-ups as I wanted to keep my air suspension simple, quiet, reliable and easily engineered. The ENDO sees the externally-mounted compressors and valve blocks replaced by one large tank with all the other hardware mounted internally.

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Normally you’d just buy the complete ENDO set-up as a ready-to-go unit but I was an early adopter and chose to upgrade my system later. Once I finally received the ENDO compressor upgrade for my air system so I figured I’d give a breakdown of the air suspension system I’m running in the Pontiac.

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You can get a bare tank just for holding air (ENDO-T), a tank with an internal valve block which uses externally-mounted compressors (ENDO-VT), a tank with an internal compressor but no valves for on-board air (ENDO-CT), or a tank with both compressor and valves mounted internally (ENDO-CVT). These come in a range of sizes (3 gallon or 5), and in a range of coloured finishes.

ENDO tanks are available in a range of colours and finishes.

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Accuair launched the ENDO-T and VT at SEMA in 2016, which is where I saw it for the first time. They also showed a prototype of the CT and CVT which they announced they would release at SEMA 2017 (which they did).

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Here is a video from Accuair explaining the ENDO-CVT concept: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ebnrwFqHeg

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I bought an ENDO-VT straight after SEMA 2016 as Accuair announced that, due to their modular construction, all ENDO products could be upgraded to CVT-spec later on. I can see why SEMA awarded Accuair product awards for the ENDO two years in a row!

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While I’d have loved to wait for the CVT to be launched before upgrading the existing air suspension system in my car wasn’t legal to use on Australian roads, and really needed to be replaced. This meant I’d be doing the upgrade in two stages: firstly, fitting new compressors, height management, and the ENDO-VT set-up.

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I have paired the ENDO air system with Accuair’s E-Level height management system. While it isn’t cheap at $1600 (AUD) E-Level uses height sensors fitted to each corner of the chassis to keep the car level and square. It also allows users to programme three heights into the touchpad controller (a phone-based iLevel is also available), and gives the ability to program the system to rise to a road-legal height as soon as the ignition is activated. This means the system can be signed off by an engineering signatory for road use in Australia.

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Here is the ENDO-VT system with twin externally mounted Viair 480C compressors in my car. You can hear the compressors kick in at 19sec mark, even over the air orbital that Eric was using.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n3DvBwSEKQ

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The fact the CVT runs silent and only leaves a tank on show is really attractive to me. I don’t have a show car but I want to drive my car quite a lot, so the OEM-spec Wabco compressor and lower maintenance compared to the old external compressors is perfect for me.

Now, it isn’t cheap and you’ll spend approximately $1500 (USD) from Accuair, or $2600 (AUD) from Air Ride Suspension Supplies to get a 5 gallon four-corner ENDO-CVT tank set-up. This is slightly more than a conventional tank, twin compressors, and valve block, but works out better when you consider you’re not buying fittings, wiring and other ancillaries.

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The silence and improved fill speed of the internal compressor is one of the main reasons I spent $1200 (Australian) upgrading from the near-new externally mounted compressors. I did manage to get $500 back from the sale of the two 480C units so it wasn’t a total waste, thankfully.

Here you can see the removable end caps and the ports which feed the valves and internal electronics of the ENDO-VT.

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The CVT upgrade actually arrived yesterday, as I had missed the initial pre-order by a few days and, given Accuair were swamped with orders, it has taken time to clear the backlog. I have to say I am blown away by the quality of the parts.

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I will do a full post showing how to dismantle the ENDO tank and convert it with the CVT upgrade kit when I am next at the car.

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2 thoughts on “Fitting the most advanced air suspension system available to a 50 year-old vintage car is smarter than you’d think.

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