Daring To Be Different: Liberty Walk’s 650S

We come across these sort of cars ever so regularly these days. It’s either the fact that the overfender craze isn’t actually a craze but a true movement, or the fact that Kato-san at Liberty Walk is just out to offend purists. And if you’ve followed anything LBW as a brand has done over the last few years, you’d know that it’s actually a combination of both.

We hear it all the time: ‘When will this overfender thing end?’ Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are counting down the days for this style to run its course, I think you may be in for a very long wait. Ever since production cars have been transformed and converted for use in motorsports, widening of fenders has been a thing. And not for looks, but simply to contain wider tires and/or trick suspension.

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The resulting look of aggression and overall badassness has been tingling car enthusiasts’ privates for decades, because pumped guards make cars look their very best. If it isn’t blistered fenders it’s flares placed on top of cut wheel arches, but the result is one and the same – and it’s not going away anytime soon.

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When Kato-san unveiled this McLaren 650S at Tokyo Auto Salon last month, I didn’t look at it and simply dismiss it because it had been widened and built for show, not motorsport. If I had done, I would have totally missed the point of this car altogether, and all the other cars that Liberty Walk and other companies that design, sell and fit overfenders create. Nobody at LBW is telling anyone that their cars are an improvement on the performance machines they’re based upon; these builds are meant to be looked at as a single piece of automotive art.

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These cars are built to special order by owners that want to make a statement. If you own a 650S and you enjoy its straight line performance but don’t have the skills needed to extract everything its capable of unleashing on track, that’s okay. If you want your 650S to stand out from all the other examples you have seen, that’s okay too. And who is anyone to judge?

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You have to admit though, as ‘played out’ as this style can at times seem, when you’re standing in front of a car like this you can’t help but be awestruck – which is exactly what I was the day after TAS ended. I had jumped in my car, and for the fifth day in a row driven over to Chiba – not to stop by the Makuhari Messe this time, but to catch up with the LBW crew who were waiting for me with the 650S (and another Liberty Walk creation) loaded on a transporter. In looking for a suitable location to shoot the cars, we checked out a new neighbourhood just down the road that’s built up with an insane number of apartment building and is eerily quiet during the day when most people are at work. It was the perfect place to have some quiet time with this McLaren, a car built for one of Kato’s long-time friends.

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When you take in the details, you quickly realize just how ‘high end’ these conversions really look and feel. The fit and finish is tight and precise, and the look is undeniably aggressive. There’s nothing subtle about how the widening is achieved; the radius of the three-piece fender flaring follows the highest swage line of the front wheel arch and is screwed directly onto the body. It oozes a race car feel even though it’s just a street car.

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Behind the Forgiato wheels the McLaren’s owner specified for his car, Liberty Walk repainted the Akebono calipers and machined an area to apply their company logo.

The rear treatment is a one-piece deal, a contoured sliver of FRP that stretches across three panels to set the rear’s new girth.

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The back bumper too is an LBW part, giving a more tucked-in profile to the lower section of the corners which results in more of the rear tires’ treads being exposed. The P1 GTR-inspired rear wing is nothing short of pure and utter theater; it’s also unnecessary and probably without much function, but I ask you this – would you not expect to see one on a car like this? Exactly.

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I should make mention that this isn’t the first time we’ve looked at this 650S. Back in August last year, I showed you the work in progress as Kato prepared to unveil the kit at SEMA 2016.

The originally-white base car became the first example to have this limited edition aero conversion fitted, and then sprayed in a nod to the P1 GTR. And yes, both the yellow and the metallic take on British Racing Green are all painted, topped with copious layers of clear for extra shine.

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The rear diffuser slots under the two channels on either side of the transmission and protrudes in dramatic fashion from the car’s back end.

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Beautifully displayed under the glass engine hatch, the 641hp 3.8L blown V8 reminds you that despite what the rest of the car may be hinting at, there’s plenty of performance on tap.

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The titanium FiExhaust system liberates a few extra horses seeing there is virtually no restriction or form of silencing. This is one loud car, and it just suits the LBW look down to a tee.

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Cutting up the stock FRP fenders and grafting on extensions will only get you half the way, and to nail the look perfectly the car needs to have a selectable ride height. Ideally, you’d be able to move between a strictly static drop like you see here, and something a little more useable which would be a few centimeters up on each corner. This is taken care of with AirRex struts that are controlled by the press of a button.

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The dramatic way in which a McLaren opens its doors to welcome you into its beautifully minimalistic cabin never gets old.

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Aside from the addition of an LBW badge hanging from the rear-view mirror, the cockpit – because it truly feels like a cockpit and not a regular car’s interior – hasn’t been meddled with. It’s beautifully simple, and in my opinion does an awesome job of putting to shame some of the more conventional designs we find in other high end supercars.

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But for how cool and inspiring it is to see a company like Liberty Walk continue to challenge people’s opinions of what is right and what isn’t, it’s ultimately Kato-san’s personal taste and thinking that intrigues me the most.

As mentioned, there was another car from LBW’s Tokyo Auto Salon display at this shoot, and you can read all about Kato’s Savanna RX-3 very soon…

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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40 comments

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1

The only objection I have as a Mclaren fan is it should have been a 675LT. I'm sure Bruce McLaren would have loved it!

2

If it's done on a 675LT, I hope it done with the conversion kit only. A part of me still says it's a limited edition car so don't cut those fenders.

Author3
Dino Dalle Carbonare

I'd dare someone do this to a 675LT!

4

Pfft. I dare someone to do this to a Merc CLK-GTR.

5

I frickin love this car, like Mr Mclaren I am a massive Mclaren fan and just LOVE what Kato has done with this 650s. The fitment of the kit is incredible, it's beautiful! I really really want to hear it.... I'm now off to Youtube....

Great shots Dino, cheers

Author6
Dino Dalle Carbonare

It sounds mental!

7

Video?

8
Henrique Bezerra da Silva

That's by far the best project until now!!! What an amazing car...I wonder how much would cost an project like that because it can be an amazing upgrade for those who has an 650S and can't reach an LT or someone even crazier to do it with an LT!!!

Author9
Dino Dalle Carbonare

They certainly have gotten way better with time. Not sure on cost, I'm not going to throw numbers around but I'm sure some internet digging can reveal an approx cost. Most kits are limited to 20 pieces so you are paying for the exclusivity

10

Best Liberty Walk build. (with exception of the F40)

Author11
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Nothing could possibly touch that. Let's refresh our memories shall we? http://www.speedhunters.com/2012/05/an-afternoon-with-a-legend/

12

That F40 was shot back in 2012? Seems like yesterday.

13

If only the kit was molded cleanly and not riveted! Sick build nonetheless. Liberty Walk is great but they apply this kit to too many cars these days. At least it fits well on this one.

14

I really like the rivets. It's more aggressive. If it's possible to make an LB-kitted McLaren more aggressive? Ha.

Author15
Dino Dalle Carbonare

But would it be as loved/hated?

16

Great photos and story, Dino. Can't wait to read about the RX-3!

Author17
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thank you kind Sir!

18

Cool car, but i find it silly to think of overfenders as any sort of "movement" or whatever. its just screwing stuff onto a car to make it wider... of course that's going to stick around and of course its going to be done, a lot, forever, just as it always has. I love seeing well done cars like this (and stuff hacked together in the shed), but whats getting old is editorializing it like its some sort of dramatic and controversial thing. I hereby nominate the word "movement" be officially banned from any speedhunters content involving the discussion of wheelwells.

19

Why did you guy stop doing the technical info bit at the bottom?

Author20
Dino Dalle Carbonare

We haven't, we just do them for cars that have a bit more to list if you know what I mean

Author21
Dino Dalle Carbonare

But how can we possibly ignore them? Once you are in front of cars like this you get drawn in and they look so good in pix!

22

I really love Speedhunters, but the last few years has proven to be tiresome. It feels like every other article has the author making excuses and justifying why he or she is presenting the subject of the article they are publishing.

You guys are journalists; you present the automotive landscape as it is currently. If that means stanced cars and overfenders, then so be it. Nothing bothers me more than starting an article with a negative overtone of how people should not hate the car that is about to be presented in the images to follow. I skip those paragraphs, every time, and go to the technical details and what was done to the car.

As I said before, you're journalists. Share the photos, the emotion, the detail, the STORY. Leave the BS behind already, we're tired of it.

Author23
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Point taken, but we certainly cannot avoid talking about the sentiments these cars instill in people. Plus once you see the RX3 story it will all make more sense

24

Looking forward for that RX-3

Author25
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Soon :)

26
Matthew Everingham

I've been waiting to see a few more detailed shots of this new build. I think I have a new favorite LB build! The livery ties it all together perfectly. :)

27

Daring to be different by bolting on one of the handful of overfender kits everyone else has to say "look at me". Yawn. Hardly unique nor subtle, a collection of bolt-on parts. Waiting for somebody to really customize or "outlaw" one of these, then I will be impressed.

28

What parts would your 'outlaw' McLaren run?

29

The crux of my comment is in that it takes more than deep pockets to impress, let's see a real vision and constant theme.

I dig the P1 GTR wing. Keep moving in this direction, plenty could be done with a unique splitter, diffuser, canards or fender louvers. The current car feels more Hotwheels than it does OEM+ or a unique take on the 650S.

30

Great photos

Author31
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thank you:)

32

Airride? Check. Rotiform-like hype wheels? Check. Liberty Walk? Check. SH didnt change awfully lot recently, thats good to see.

33

I posted few years back on Kato IG that he should do a mclaren. I was right, i looks spectacuular

34

"dare to be different"? How does a LW kit in 2017 make anyone "different"? This article should have been titled "go with the flow".

Author35
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Ok so maybe we see a lot of them at shows. How many times have you seen one fitted to a local car you see regularly?

36

How many times do you see a local car with an equivalent amount of money as a LW kit thrown at its looks?

37

This is the best looking Liberty Walk "super-car" yet...

38

Best looking LW car in my opinion, Can somebody tell me if the arches etc are still fibreglass or have they taken a better approach to that?

39

To me this is the epitome of rice. This car is fast no doubt about it, but when you make it look like a race car when its neither raced nor taken to its limit I'm pretty sure it is rice. IMO LBW is just a company that makes cars look like ricers for a ton of money. It makes me sad to see so many cars being ruined by disgusting over fenders and huge wings when in fact they just get driven on the street at 20 km/h in busy areas. It's bad and it must stop.

40
Milos LIcko Bash Randjelovic

If you want to do something really nice for your car today:
http://luxxio.co.nz

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