Wide-body kit design is something that Liberty Walk has got down to a fine art. In fact, if I was to ask you what the first thing that comes to mind when ‘Liberty Walk’ is mentioned, I’m quite sure it would be a supercar dropped on air, running pumped fender flares and a swan-neck rear GT wing.
There’s nothing wrong with this style of course; the ‘works’ look and feel continues to dominate the aftermarket world. Kato-san has more ideas though, and this is where the LB-Silhouette Works GT lineup comes in.
First things first, I think the name is right on the money. You see, over-fenders were initially used in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s to allow manufacturer-backed works teams to fit wider wheels and tires to their race cars. But as we moved into the next stage of Japanese motorsports in the ’80s, it was the silhouette cars that took over.
The Silhouette Formula spawned some of the most iconic – and widest – JDM racers of all time, and that style provides some of the inspiration behind Kato’s latest line. Of course, when you’re applying it to supercars rather than a boxy ’80s coupe, you need to do it in a far more refined way.
The way I see it, the LB-Silhouette line answers the question ‘what would LB aero look like if it was smoothly integrated into the lines of the car it’s based on? In this case it’s a Ferrari 458.
In an age where companies like Mansory self-appoint themselves as the coach builders of our times, what Kato-san is doing here is not only very relevant, but far more elegant.
I look at the 458 Silhouette as something I’d even consider doing myself if I really wanted to stand out in the 458 community – and smugly anger purists at the same time.
There’s a well-executed design language here; a real synergy with the underlying lines penned by the folks at Maranello.
I mentioned earlier that the Silhouette Formula provided some of the inspiration for this line, but the balance comes from modern GT Cup cars. The 458 kit marries straight and rounded lines beautifully.
Liberty Walk offers up the kit in top-of-the-line dry carbon for the equivalent of US$52,000, but money’s to be saved if you can live with FRP (US$36,000). In this day and age, and for this premium end of the aftermarket, that’s not actually bad.
The conversion looks especially striking from the back, where the rear fenders add an extra 60mm of width on each side. As you can see above, these pieces are applied over the stock wheel arches with the joint line following the curvature of the underlying body. You can of course have your body shop blend this in for an even cleaner look.
The swan neck stays provide a contemporary look for the carbon wing, but while shooting the car I couldn’t help but wonder how mean this thing would look without a rear wing at all. What do you think?
The naturally aspirated V8 – which after the 488 and its various evolutions up to the SP90 almost seems dated – hasn’t received much in the way of modifications in this particular customer-owned car.
What all Ferraris need, however, is a proper exhaust, and the Fi tie-up with LBW continues on this car. The valved system sounds sick, providing the naturally aspirated flat-plane crank-equipped V8 with the lungs it deserves.
With the valves open and the tacho past 5,000rpm, the Fi Exhaust system is downright antisocial. Perfect then.
Like all LBW cars, stance is on point. And once again, it all comes courtesy of air suspension in order to provide the best of both worlds for those that prefer to prioritize looks.
Wheels are such a personal and subjective thing that I won’t comment too much on the choice here, but I will say that you need a 12-inch wide wheel with an aggressive negative offset to fill up the rear guards. These Forgiato Dieci-ECLs measure 20×9-inch -15 at the front and 20×12-inch -25 at the rear, with Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tires in 255/30R20 and 295/30R20 respectively.
Am I the only one that would love to see this thing on TE37s?
There’s one thing I really like about Liberty Walk when compared to the majority of other supercar tuners out there – they leave interiors alone.
Because you really don’t need to color coordinate everything. I had to make a point of this, as I really don’t like what I see coming out of some European outfits, where things are done for the sole purpose of being changed, upgraded or altered.
I’ve been fortunate enough to firsthand see Liberty Walk grow into an established brand that is fun but charismatic, very much a reflection of Kato-san’s character.
So seeing them branch off and experiment with this sort of approach fills me with joy. I definitely want to see the LB-Silhouette Works GT catalog grow and continue to put Japan on the map as a worthy contender in the supercar modifying segment.
Dino Dalle Carbonare