Welcome to Kato-san’s latest middle finger to the world of motoring. Now you couldn’t possibly think that we’d pass up an opportunity to shoot the LB Works Lamborghini Aventador once it landed in the US right? A few days prior to the car’s unveiling at the SEMA Show – where it’s currently the center-piece of the Forgiato Wheels booth – we met up with the Liberty Walk crew to take a look at yet another one of their creations that is bound to generate as much love as it will hate.
After seeing it spit fat flames a couple of weeks back, we just couldn’t wait to take in the latest installment of Liberty Walk style. After all, it’s not every day that someone takes an angle grinder to Lamborghini’s flagship supercar.
So Larry made sure to set a date with the car during a overcast afternoon in California right before it was pointed in the direction of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
We’ve seen enough of Kato’s creations in the last couple of years to know exactly what the recipe is, so I won’t dwell on this too much, and instead just give you a quick summary of the process.
It all begins with Kato picking a suitable base for the transformation. The Aventador has been in line for the LB Works treatment from the moment Lamborghini released it into the wild, but at this year’s SEMA Show you’ll also find Kato’s signature style applied to the Porsche 997 and BMW 4 Series. Kato then sits down with his designer and comes up with the most suitably-styled set of overfenders and various other accents, before sending the concepts off to our good friend Miura-san at TRA Kyoto.
The Crazy Bunny then gets busy – first digitally mapping the exterior of the base car with a prohibitively-expensive laser scanner, and then working his magic in CAD over the 3D image to translate the designs into CNC machine speak. Hitting print then creates the moulds for the moulds. FRP production is outsourced and the parts are ready to be fitted in about a week. Of course, there is much more work to it, but like I’ve said, I’m just touching on the main parts of the process here.
Kato and his crew actually built the Aventador at the LBW body shop in the outskirts of Nagoya, and only finished the car the night before it was due to be put in a container and shipped Stateside.
The colour alone makes this car stand out even more than it should; the light metallic ‘Shark Blue’ contrasting with matte black additions along the way. Take the front end for example, the Aventador’s jagged nose is emphasised with an aggressive lip spoiler that replaces the lower and cut-out section of the stock bumper and protrudes well beyond the dimensions of the car to extend the lower section of those massive side intakes.
Additional side splitters create a layered look, curving upwards around the corners of the bumper.
The overfender treatment begins at the front where the two-piece blistering is bolted down onto the both the stock bumper and fenders. These pieces follow Lamborghini’s angular design language pretty well, which is really the only way that you can get away with doing something like this to a supercar of this pedigree.
The front bumper finisher draws a parallel with the slant that creates the bumper side intakes, while the fender section itself lines up with the door line creating a well-integrated addition.
Now to the stuff that will make purists cringe. Yes, the stock fenders need to get cut – a little at the front, but quite a lot at the rear…Angle Grinder, Meet The Lambo
This is so the intimidating offset of the wheels allows them to sit just right within the 30mm widening that each front overfender creates.
When the project was still in its planning stage Kato called in the help of Forgiato, who were more than happy to jump on board and spec-up a custom set of rims for the Aventador. Forgiato’s deeply concave and split-spoke Maglia ECL design was chosen for its sporty appearance, and prepped in 20×9-inch sizing for the front with a carefully measured and thought about offset of -7. The rear wheels are a whole lot bigger again, but we’ll get to those in a moment.
The factory carbon-ceramic brakes were left alone – they’re a great package that just doesn’t needed to be messed with.
Given a need for the slammed look that Liberty Walk cars are always known for – but also having the requirement for on-road drivability – the stock Öhlins suspension was replaced with AirRex air suspension. Yes, I can hear some collective cringes, but like we have touched on before, Kato and his crew simply don’t care. They are out to achieve a look, a style and a way of doing things that sets them apart from every other Lamborghini or supercar owner out there.
The whole point here is to create a unique look – one that is only available and acceptable to a few people around the world.
It’s the only way they are able to drive a Lamborghini, or a Ferrari, or a BMW – yet be able to differentiate themselves from owners that may only go as far as replacing the wheels.
When the car is dumped as low as it will go, you can see why there was a need to cut a sizeable chunk of metal away from the fenders.
There is simply no other way that the Forgiato wheels would otherwise clear the bodywork. At the rear the Aventador is 70mm wider on each side, with massive 21×13-inch -20 wheels filling up the newfound girth.
Like the Aventador needed extra girth, right?Kato Does What He Loves
But you just have to take it as it comes, served up with a nice, loud, happy dose of laughter from Kato himself.
This is one guy that knows not to follow the mainstream. In fact, he keeps as far away from it as he can, which is precisely what has allowed this little shop from Japan to have such a big impact on car culture the world over.
Coherence and continuity is important in giving a sense of flow to a specific car, or in this case – aero kit, so accent pieces like the underskirt boards that gently curve upwards as they meet the rear fenders are a much-needed addition that seem to work so well.
It sort of makes you wonder why Lamborghini doesn’t go for touches like these itself!
And as if the widened rear end wasn’t enough, there was a need to really give the Liberty Walk Aventador a works racecar feel. And what better way to do so than with a carbon fiber GT wing mounted on a pair of stays that sprout out from the very center of the rear bumper.
Kato isn’t saying if this wing is functional or not, but something tells us that he’ll be testing its performance worth at the first opportunity he gets!
To help bring that rear end closer to the ground, four of the fins on the stock diffuser have been extended with elongated sections and then connected with a sub-diffuser – effectively giving a second layer to the extremities. But what everyone is going to be looking at back there is the squared pipes of the quad-exit Armytrix exhaust system.
We have seen and heard this in action but we really need to talk more about it as it’s quite an impressive piece of art – not to mention the only performance upgrade that the car is actually fitted with. Not that this 700hp V12 machine is short on performance though! The system completely replaces the stock exhaust from the manifolds down, first taking the place of the twin downpipes with ceramic-coated (and de-cat’d) titanium replacements, just to make sure the frequencies the V12 produces aren’t muted in any way.
The rest of the system then entails a complex series of intricate curves of hand-welded, aero-grade titanium pipes that either channel exhaust gasses straight out through those quad tail pipes – hence the afterburner-like fire show – or into a small silencer which quietens things down a little, just so you don’t scare too many people on the road. The exhaust gas route is decided by a pair of valves, which are either controlled manually with a switch on the key fob, or programmed to open at a specific RPM, just like the stock Lamborghini system does from factory.
The complete system liberates an additional 35.2hp and boosts torque marginally. However, the number that makes the biggest difference is the actual weight saving. The whole system hits the scales at 7.77 kg to shave off a substantial 28.23kg.
Then, of course, there’s the noise. Did we mention the noise?
Seeing the level of trim, fit and finish inside, it was deemed unnecessary to add any custom touches to the well-appointed cabin.
Stock, it’s still a very special place to be in. For those that don’t believe this car came from Japan, the display on the center stack might convince you otherwise.
After spending an afternoon with this Italian beast from the Orient, we must ask ourselves if the Aventador rivals the impact the LBW Ferrari 458 had exactly one year ago.
Call it a tried and tested method, but something tells us that Kato is stealing just as much attention this time around, and that’s without taking into account the other cars he’s showing at SEMA this year.
Add to that the fact that Kei Miura has a total of six cars there as well, and something tells us the overfender works-style from Japan isn’t quite over yet. Quite the contrary actually…
Dino Dalle Carbonare
Photos by Larry Chen