Continuing where I left off on my pilgrimage to Japan early this year, I travelled east to Nagoya City to look for something more exotic. When you talk about custom exotics in this country, the name Liberty Walk never fails to pop up. This brand has stormed the world with its bold move to customise and make supercars to be more exciting than what they already are. And, that's why I had to make way to Liberty Walk's headquarters!
Liberty Walk HQ is located in Aichi prefecture which is about 40 minutes of train travel from Nagoya Station. To get there, I had to take the train on JR Chuo Line to Ozone Station, and transfer to Meitetsu Seto Line before getting off at Sango Station. Another 10 minutes of walking from the station, I finally...
... reached Liberty Walk! It was easily distinguishable by the collection of showroom cars they had at shop front. There were two different buildings situated across from each other, but I was determined to first check out the more familiar building (Right) with two baby-sized supercars mounted on the roof.
I visited Liberty Walk exactly 3 days after Tokyo Auto Salon 2015 has ended. Surprisingly, the demo cars from the event were already transported back to the shop, and that left me with a second chance to admire them again.
One of the employees noticed and came over to greet me. I introduced myself and explained the appointment I made earlier with the owner Kato-san regarding my visit to the shop. Without hesitation he welcomed me in and told me to feel free to roam around while waiting for his boss's arrival.
It was a busy morning for the guys at Liberty Walk. All the sales goods and props used for the big event were carefully handled and returned to where they belong.
While everyone was pretty much attended to their duties and Kato-san wasn’t arriving just yet, I took a stroll inside the workshop to find out what cars were around. This car wasn’t the only Prancing Horse I noticed.
Parked at the corner of the building was Kato-san’s personal LB☆WORKS 458 Challenge. Yes, it’s a race-ready Challenge model registered for road use. Fitted with Liberty Walk’s trademark overfenders and aero kit, it looks more aggressive and definitely sounds more ferocious than the standard 458 Italia! Kato-san is crazy. :D
Before aero kits are available for Ferrari 458 and Nissan GT-R, the first supercar that Liberty Walk actually laid its hands on was Lamborghini Murcielago. Up until now, Murcielago has a few different kit versions like LB☆Performance Type-1, Type-2, and finally the latest one above branded as the LB☆WORKS.
In fact, only 20 LB☆WORKS Murcielago kits were made and they all had been long sold out. This white bull was the first one ever to wear it as Liberty Walk’s demo car, dubbed the “No. 00”.
What made this Murcie even more amazing is the fact that Kato-san shipped it over to Italy 2 years ago to participate in the 50th Anniversary of Lamborghini at Milano and Bologna. It was a proud moment for Liberty Walk because they showed the world what Japanese tuning is all about.
However this year, Kato-san had a bigger dream which is to challenge D1 drifting championship with this wide-body mid-engined supercar driven specifically by Daigo Saito!
Liberty Walk didn't start out customising supercars when it first established in the 90s. It all began with Kato's affection for classic custom cars during his young Bosozoku days. Rivet-on wide fenders, deep dish wheels and loud exhaust are the features that influence his design on modern day cars.
This 'shakotan' GC111 Kenmeri Skyline is Liberty Walk's interpretation of Japanese classics. It belongs to Kato-san and was one of the many show cars they brought to TAS 2015. Not sure why the Rocket Bunny 86 was there, but the striking light blue paint on both cars is just perfect.
After Liberty Walk has taken over the world by introducing their versions of Murcielago, 458 and GT-R, everyone was looking forward to the next big thing. LB☆WORKS Aventador was completed in October last year for the SEMA debut. At that time, I recalled seeing it repeatedly on the Internet and this was that very car!
This is certainly the first Aventador in the world that went under the knife. The custom wheels on the bull were Maglia ECL by Forgiato (20x9-inch front & 21x13-inch rear), wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tyres (255/30 & 355/25) and hidden well under the overfenders with the help of AirRex air suspension.
The additional front lip spoiler, rear diffusers and that huge GT wing totally enhances the look of the car. Not to forget, the squared quad pipes Armytrix exhaust system that’s prone to spit flames. :D
Kato-san arrived some time later and I approached to greet him right away. I came to know that he's a very busy man, we didn't hold much long conversation as he was catching up with sales order work and customer requests pending in lieu of his absence due to TAS event.
But the Liberty Walk's boss was kind enough to have me around in his office while working on his stuffs and listening to his favourite song 'Southern All Stars - Hotel Pacific' over and over again.
Honestly, his office is every car enthusiasts' dream place. Every single area is filled with toys, plastic models, collectibles and memorabilia which are all related to what Kato-san loves most. I felt like a young kid again in this mini museum of his.
I think Kato-san is an amazing person. He turned what he likes to do into reality and worked real hard to make Liberty Walk what it is today. Despite the fame he gets, he chose to stay humble and energetic to the people he meets. Sadly, he wasn't that all energetic due to the influenza he was having that day.
By the way, do you know what he drives to work every day? A Toyota Prius. :D
Let’s check out the other Liberty Walk building which I missed out earlier. These slammed rides parked outside were built in collaboration with GO EZ of Southern California.
This building serves as the main place for customer who wants to get hold of Liberty Walk’s merchandise. That cool looking pink LB☆KIDS Aventador electric car was on sale too, and I would've buy it if I'm 20 years younger. :D
I am sure that I've never used a restroom that looked anything like this. Funky design with LCD TVs installed everywhere playing upbeat JPop songs to make your toilet experience more unique.
When I thought I had seen all of Liberty Walk, boy was I wrong. There was still one more building where Liberty Walk actions take place and Kato-san's precious jewels were hidden. With green light from the boss, I pay a visit to Liberty Walk's Factory.
The factory is located in a different city and it will take about 30 minutes travelling by car from the man office. Thanks to Hata-san (who came to Malaysia previously for the first LB GT-R build), I could reach there conveniently. J
This is where Liberty Walk transforms their sketches into real life scales, building quality custom cars for their high-end customers.
Here are two LB☆WORKS cars, the BMW 4 Series and Porsche 997 Turbo which completed in time for TAS. Since RWB Nakai-san doesn't make kits for the modern water-cooled Porsches, the 997 is Kato-san's approach for Stuttgart owners who want their car to look cooler.
This is one of Kato-san's infamous bull. The colour and the markings were inspired by the Japanese fighter aircraft 'Zero Fighter' which existed during the World War II.
Liberty Walk factory is few times bigger than the showroom and many cars could fit in here just fine. Most importantly, they have the all the facilities needed to provide the best services and complete solution to their local customers from body kit assembly and painting to tuning and servicing.
As I explored further within the compound, I stumbled upon Kato-san's car collection. I believe no one in the world has the craziest idea to convert the eco-friendly Prius into a jet fighter style console and center positioned driver seat with no doors and no steering wheel. It's TAS 2013 demo car built purely for fun. :D
These shakotan kyushas are Kato-san's priceless possessions - the Skyline Japan C210 four-door (Left) & Hakosuka C10 (Right). They were bought many years ago, restored and customised to fit Kato-san's Bosozoku style.
Below the Hakosuka, there was a cool Kenmeri C110 four-door (Yonmeri) dressed up like a patrol car.
Liberty Walk is serious about growing its business and making the brand widely recognised. With the direction set and their continuous love for car, they look into new market possibilities making body kits for cars from other regions, like this LB☆WORKS Dodge Challenger. By now, they have new kits for the Huracan and Mini Cooper.
From what I can see, Liberty Walk is doing awesome stuff bringing the best of Japanese bosozoku style into modern cars which really steps up the whole car customising culture. We'd be sure to see more of Liberty Walk's jaw-dropping designs at big car shows around the world.
Thank you boss Kato-san, Kawakami-san, Hata-san and the rest of the rest of Liberty Walk's team for the kind hospitality during my visit! :D