As we had found on the autocross course, the RideTech coilovers and the originals performed similarly, yet the ride quality was vastly different as the test results show. The springs on the original shocks were extremely stiffand while they worked well on the autocross course they scored poorly on the street, as every bump was transmitted to the electronic sensors as well as the ones in the seat of our pants. We concluded the RideTech coilovers were better overall because they had lighter springs for a better ride with much more effective damping on compression and rebound, which helped handling. Again the ability to adjust damping proved its worth and ride quality was vastly improved.

Of all the results of the ride test the most surprising came with the installation of the Black Series shocks; it was immediately obvious that the combination of the air pressure necessary to obtain the proper ride height and the compression damping was not appropriate for this car as they scored poorly and the car pitched up in the rear from not enough rebound dampening. On the other hand, switching to the single a Master Series again proved the value of adjustable shocks, we were able to adjust the air pressure and dial in the damping to come up with the second best ride quality score.

’32 Ford Roadster ShockRide Meter Comparison
Shock Series Average Ride Meter #
Black Series 16.363
Master Series SA 13.985
RideTech Coilovers 12.822
Original coilovers 15.219

Road testing the coupe also provided a few surprises. The Black and the single-adjustable Master Series produced very similar results. In this case having rebound adjustment wasn’t an advantage; it was the compression stroke that needed to be softened. Switching to the Select Series on the soft setting provided a noticeable improvement and the standard RideTech coilovers scored slightly better.

’34 Ford Roadster ShockRide Meter Comparison
Shock Series Average Ride Meter #
Black Series 10.03
Master Series SA 10.621
RideTech Coilovers 8.767
Select Series 8.977

Our Conclusion

First and foremost RideTech’s new coilovers are winners. They’re a clean, simple, affordable suspension option that works extremely well. Like any coilovers, proper spring selection is critical, which means first you have to weigh both ends of your carguessing won’t get it done. Then use RideTech’s online calculator to determine the right spring for your application. Preload collars on the shocks provide some adjustability, and springs themselves cost around $75 each, so trying different sets won’t break the bank.

As for air suspension it’s obviously more involved to install than coilovers and more expensive as well, however it does provide a wide range of adjustability in ride height and ride quality, especially when double-adjustable shocks are part of the package.

On the subject of adjustability the fact is most of us aren’t going to crawl under our car to play with shock settings very often, but the ability to dial in the suspension (and then leave it alone) is an asset when it comes to fine-tuning a chassisand while a single adjustment helps, double adjustment provides even more options. Then there’s the latest in OEM technology, the option to switch from soft to firm shock valving with the push of a button, great for those who want to switch from a soft ride for comfort and stiffer suspension for handling.

So there you have it, there’s plenty to choose fromairbags or coil springs, shocks that aren’t adjustable, or those that can be altered from under the car or the driver seat. Basically as the sophistication of the components increases so does the cost, so take what we’ve shown here and let your needs, and your pocketbook, be your guide.

Pete Swain’s ’34 coupe exhibited considerable body roll on the autocross course. Predictably, increased compression damping and higher air pressure helped cornering but hurt ride quality in later testing.

’32 Ford Street Rod Top Times
Driver: Bret Voelkel
Black Series 56.516 57.486 57.643
Master Series (SA) 55.980 56.122 57.005
Select Series (soft) 55.273 56.220 56.602
Select Series (firm) 54.721 54.782 55.511
Original Coilovers 56.129 56.648 57.037
RideTech Coilover 56.034 56.727 57.241

350 S. St. Charles Street
IN  47546