When it comes to modifying cars, everyone has their own tastes, and no two modified cars are ever quite the same. Our cars reflect who we are and whilst we might not always agree on the "perfect" car, we're pretty certain our car community would be a lot less fun without the forward thinkers and innovators coming up with fresh ideas and making them a reality.
The Fast & The Furious, 2001.
The original Fast and the Furious movie in 2001 captured a whole new wave of modified car followers and fans. Lamborghini Diablo, McLaren F1 and Ferrari F40 posters were being ripped down and replaced with big power R33 Nissan Skylines, Mazda RX7s and Toyota Supras wearing Wings West and Veilside kits. The rulebook was beginning to change...
The Max Power Generation.
I remember reading Max Power Magazine (RIP) when I was a kid being completely enthralled by what was happening outside of the UK in modifying circles. It always seemed like things were more exciting, bigger and better elsewhere across the globe, especially in Japan and the USA.
Bodykits and wide arches were all the rage during the early 2000s Max Power era and somehow, we find ourselves back there now. Of course, these days, the “scene” has matured and whilst fibreglass has been replaced with carbon fibre , the fundamentals remain the same - self expression is still in abundance, thankfully.
The Land Of The Rising Sun.
In today's blog instalment, we shine some light on Japan’s automotive tuning brand, Liberty Walk. Hailing from the land of the rising sun, this company was created to "remodel" exotic cars, or “Kaizo” as the Japanese describe it. It’s fair to say all of the Liberty Walk cars have a distinctive look and have become a rather famous name in modified car circles over the last 11 years.
The Liberty Walk Story.
The history behind the Liberty Walk brand is deeply rooted in the old school “Kaido Racer” style which is the epitome of Japanese car culture, or at least an obscure slice of it. This traditional style of car modifying is all about removing bumpers, retro-fitting headlights from other cars and installing wider arches. Still to this day, pockets of car modifiers in Japan still build cars with this style, but things have moved on and Liberty Walk, or LB Work as they are known, have taken this old-school “Bosozoku” style and adapted it in their own way.
Wataru Kato is the man behind the brand and concept. The story goes that in 2008, a good friend and customer came to Kato wanting to sell his Liberty Walk Diablo and replace it with a Murcielago. The started the creative process and the crazy ideas were flowing for the Murcielago. At the time, Kato had no idea this would be the birth of LB Performance as a global brand.
In 2009, Kato took his new LB development Murcielago over to Las Vegas for SEMA, which created a huge buzz around the brand, but unfortunately, didn’t bring any customers or firm interest in the Murcielago, which was a huge disappointment for Kato and his team. Never one to quit on his dream, Kato went back to the drawing board and evolved/redesigned the Murcielago, this time using “works overfenders”. The new look Lambo was ready in time for the 2012 SEMA show, branded “LB Works”.
Imagine all the People, Living in Peace.
Kato’s new vision for the Murcielago made a massive impact at the second time of asking, putting his brand firmly on the map. Visitors to the LB Works stand were stunned by what Kato had done to such an exotic car. Modifying a Lamborghini sent a clear message to the rest of the modified car scene, a brave new approach saw orders come flying in. The disappointment of SEMA 2009 was a distant memory and long forgotten. SEMA 2012 was the second chance Kato needed to show the world what Liberty Walk was capable of creating.
Since SEMA 2012, Kato has developed the brand for new models and product development. Following the success of the SEMA Murcielago, Liberty Walk have gone on to develop kits for the Ferrari 458 Italia, Nissan GT-R and Aventador. Things have got pretty serious, pretty quickly. With over 200 LB Works cars in Japan and a further 350 globally, Kato and his team have enjoyed huge success. It just proves you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how bad things get...
The Liberty Walk Ethos.
The Liberty Walk brand follows the this Japanese saying: “A nail that sticks out a little will be hammered back down” but Liberty Walk and Kato prefer to say “A nail that sticks out a lot can never be hammered back down”.
I must admit, at face value, I didn't like the idea of cutting up an exotic supercar, but hearing Kato’s story and learning about the ethos behind his brand, I have respect for throwing away the rulebook and doing things differently. After all, if we all liked the same things, we’d definitely all die of boredom.
The Liberty Walk team now boast a diverse line-up of makes and models cast under their spell, having branched out into classic and mainstream brands with wider appeal. Liberty Walk are here to stay, ladies and gentleman.
I have to admit, part of me shudders at the thought of cutting a supercar up to fit over fenders/wide arches but there are plenty out there with much, much bigger bank balances than me who love modifying their exotics past the point of no return.
If you’re a died-in-the-wool purist, you'd best look away now because what you’re about to see could be deeply, deeply disturbing… or... alternatively, you could just lighten up and embrace something a little different, it's up to you... :)
Never Give Up.
If the world can learn one thing from Kato's journey, it's that in the end, grit and determination always wins. The early disappointment of Sema 2008 could have spelt the end of the LB Works brand, but where others would have given up, Kato just kept on going. Blood, sweat and tears with a heavy dose of faith is clearly what it takes to make it in the cut-throat world of car modifications.
This is definitely what the car scene needs more of. We congratulate Kato on this success - long may it continue...