The first automotive air suspension system was patented and put to work more than a century ago. It’s taken nearly as long for it to be adopted by carmakers and even enthusiasts in earnest, though. For decades, coil-type and leaf-type springs just made a whole lot more sense. All of that is changing, though, in part because of customizing outfits like Southern California’s Boden AutoHaus.


Boden’s doors haven’t even been open for a year but the company’s already made strides in assimilating the air-filled bellows into nearly any make or model. Predictable European species like all manner of BMWs and Audis dominate the shop’s quarters but, according to Boden’s Josh Esfahani, an assortment of classic muscle cars, Japanese sports cars like Acura’s NSX or Nissan’s GT-R—even a showroom-stock minivan—have undergone the Boden treatment. “[We] specialize in premium air suspension installations,” Esfahani says, “[but] we’re more of an automotive boutique that enhances the look of [the] vehicle. Through suspension, wheels and tires, and other components, we’re able to transform the look of a new car into something that’s customized to [what] the customer wants or needs.”


Which is exactly what Esfahani’s been doing to his own cars ever since he installed his first air suspension system years ago. “I fell in love,” he says about the ability to adjust ride height without tools and, for that matter, without pulling to the side of the road, and the creative outlet that assembling the associated components in the trunk affords. It’s that first installation that delivered Esfahani’s drive and passion that later culminated into Boden and has kept the shop’s calendar full for months on end. “With an untouched market in Southern California, I decided to make the move from the Bay Area and start fresh,” he says. “The concept’s kept us booked, and I couldn’t be happier.”


Esfahani hasn’t made all of this happen alone, though. Each member of the five-man cast knows his role, which ranges from marketing and documenting what’s happening in the shop through photos to the nuts and bolts of the business, like fabricating, wiring, and lending technical expertise. The crew originates from every corner of the automotive aftermarket, like master technician Jayson Glanville, who’s been wrenching on Porsches since he was a freshman in high school and master fabricator Zac Perkins, who has as much experience crafting custom-built turbo systems for General Motors’ LS1 engines and even Lamborghinis as you do topping off your own wiper fluid.


It’s Boden’s team that’s led to so many infamous projects in such short time, like Darron Shubin’s Audi A5 Quattro with its dual air tanks and polished hard lines that was parked inside the MagnaFlow exhibit at last year’s SEMA show, and Stan Chen of Toyo Tires’ BMW 328i wagon and classic BMW motorcycle-toting trailer combo—both with airbags—that decorated those same halls back in November. That sort of notoriety for a business barely a summer’s length in age isn’t exactly status quo, none of which has escaped Esfahani and company, and is exactly why the firm already has plans of expansion—not just in square footage, but in scope. Luxury sedans continue to pass through Boden’s doors but have also made way for projects like aero parts and wheel maker Vorsteiner’s widebody BMW M4, an undertaking Esfahani expects to proliferate the air suspension cause among performance-minded enthusiasts—a pairing he says has been at the heart of the company’s vision since the beginning.


Boden’s clientele isn’t made up entirely of trade show stars and industry leaders, though. Esfahani says that the company’s customer base is made up of all sorts of clients who range from entry-level enthusiasts to parents who simply don’t want to subject their children to un-customized, clone-like family haulers. It’s that eclectic body of patrons that makes it easy for what Esfahani refers to as the “Boden army” to clock-in early and hold off on closing the shop doors until well into the night. “What pushes our team to pull all-nighters, to exceed the limits of each install, and to go above and beyond with each build truly comes down to our customers,” he says.


“We will set a new standard for air suspension across the globe,” Esfahani says with conviction. His expectations of a much larger or second facility in the coming years as well as proliferating a newfound appreciation for what air suspensions are capable of among all types of enthusiasts are entirely reasonable given what the company’s accomplished in less than a year. It’s all very much the automotive dream come true for the five-man team, with few misgivings, the most obvious of which seems to be any of the company’s staff finding time to work on their own projects, a tradeoff all of them assure is an entirely acceptable one.

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Words by Aaron Bonk

Photos courtesy of Boden AutoHaus