Lots of automakers these days offer air suspensions, which basically consist of an airbag at each corner, a reservoir, a compressor, and lines between them. There’s also a damper, control arms, and other suspension-y bits, but the main parts are the air springs, which are just bags of air. So is a soccer ball.
This is why a mad scientist from Russia decided to find out if you can use a ball as an air spring.
This oddball idea comes from the mind of Vlad, the wacky Russian car scientist from the YouTube Channel Garage 54. He’s graced this world with many weird homemade contraptions in the past, and his latest is about as dumb-but-possibly-ingenious as you might expect.
Watch as Vlad and his team weld spring perches to an old BMW’s lower control arms and to its body, shoving basketballs and soccer balls between them to act as air springs in place of the steel coils:
Upon lowering the car onto the basketballs and soccer balls, the spheres actually seem to hold up, and Vlad is able to go for a ride. Strangely, the YouTube host complains about the soft ride and the shocks—particularly the fact that the car rocks back and forth. This is strange because the rear shock absorbers are clearly not attached in this video, so naturally the ride was going to be bouncy.
I’m curious to know why the team didn’t just hook the dampers up, as air bags are meant to be used alongside traditional dampers (the bags just take the place of traditional springs).
As shown in the video, even though the balls do work for a bit, and offer a cushy ride, bumps in the road act like that bully from elementary when he gets a hold of your ball at recess: they flatten it. Like the jackasses they are. So it seems like soccer balls and basketballs do work as air springs, but in classic Garage 54 fashion, they don’t last, and frankly, remain a pretty dumb idea.