Kato-san at Liberty Walk must surely go down in history as the father of modern day bosozoku style. Taking visual cues and ideas from the ’70s and applying them to modern cars is something that has put Kato’s company – and his personal style – on the map for close to a decade now.
First it was the controversial ‘overfender everything’ approach, but Kato-san has since stepped it up a notch with his Silhouette conversions. I’m obviously not saying that he came up with it, but he’s definitely evolved it more than others, while giving it his unique twist.
Kato-san is a marketing genius, and that’s something you’ll see in the Liberty Walk feature I’ve got coming next week. But what I really respect about Kato is his deep passion; he puts so much effort into running his business, but has never stopped building cars for himself. He continues to cultivate his love for shakotan kyusha, and you know what they say – when you run your business with passion, anything is possible.
So all of this brings us to this mean, wide, slammed and pissed-off-looking R35 Nissan GT-R, sporting one of the most iconic racing liveries.Legendary Livery
The JPS livery is applied to what Liberty Walk calls the ‘LB Silhouette Works’ conversion. This one’s for R35 owners that want to take different approach to customizing their ‘R.’
The conversion sees every panel except the roof and doors changed. It’s not an aero kit – it’s a transformation offered in full FRP, or an FRP and carbon fiber mix, that will set you back anywhere from US$34,000 to US$54,000 – not including fitting and paint.
Yes, it’s a substantial investment, but we live in a world where those who want to stand out crave the bespoke feel that coach-built cars of yesteryear offered. That’s what Liberty, along with an ever-increasing number of outfits, try to offer, albeit in a more 21st century kind of way where composites replace good old-fashioned metal.
I shouldn’t try to categorize it all though, because we live in different times and cars are built in different ways. But it’s the element of creating something special that’s at the core of this conversion.
The LB Silhouette conversion really takes the wide-body over-fender approach to a new level. The underlying elements are there, but it’s all smoothly integrated. The front widening materializes on the bumper, arching around the fender and cutting off abruptly as it meets the door line, creating a race-car-like outlet for air to escape along the sides.
The term ‘Silhouette’ comes from the Group 5 racers of the late-’70s and early-’80s. On their conversion over to race cars, the base vehicles received almost caricature-like aero treatments, in the process giving birth to possibly the coolest and most visually-pleasing race series.
The inspiration for the R35 kit obviously wasn’t taken from modern day GT500 cars, but rather by applying a vintage approach on a modern platform. It’s this fusion of old and new that Kato-san has nailed and is applying to an ever-expanding variety of models. Next will be the Silvia S15, but more on that in the coming months.
This particular car, owned by Ooya-san, sits on 20-inch LB Works LD97 wheels – 11-inches wide with a -45 offset at the front and 12-inches wide with a -95 offset at the rear.
Huge wheels are needed as there’s a serious amount of added girth to be filled.
The treatment continues around the back onto an almost exaggerated wing that sits on a trunk lid with a wing of its own. Because the car is black, this complex design seems a little more toned down compared to how it would look with a lighter, brighter color, so it adds to the aggression without confusing the eye too much.The Small Details
Up close, this thing is seriously imposing.
Dropped to the ground on its air suspension it sits super-wide, almost looking like it’s trying to eat you.
It was super-nice of Ooya-san to bring his car to this cool location about half an hour from the main Liberty Walk shop in Nagoya. It was also cool to see that he likes to enjoy and share his hobby with his son. Maybe in a few year’s he’ll be asking to borrow the GT-R from his old man!
While we were chatting, I had to ask for a quick peek under the hood.
The VR38DETT is basically stock, but there are plans for a few modifications to extract a little more performance.
The exhaust is already sorted though, a full Fi system finished off with gold tips that tie in perfectly with the JPS livery.
That same gold has been used for the front and rear calipers, which you can see when you step back and take the car in as a whole.
Aside from the highlight lines, gold has also been used to emphasize the main grille section as well as the two side intakes on the lower part of the front bumper.
Much like Nakai of RWB, it looks like Kato has begun signing the complete cars he builds for those customers that request it.
But the coolest little addition for me was the JPS pack on the dash.A Future Collectable?
The aero and suspension setup has been designed to achieve great fitment even when driving. If the roads do get a tad choppy however, you’re only a button press away from a quick blast of air to lift the car up.
I have no doubts that you’ll let me know what you think about this LBW creation in the comments, but these cars always make me wonder. For example, what will people make of these one-offs in say 40 or 50 years’ time.
It’s like us now in 2021 looking back at the Hakosuka. Everyone seems to go for the over-fendered, slammed and tuned versions – especially those tuned by respectable and recognized outfit. So are we looking at a future classic here? How might it compare to the Italdesign GT-R50 we saw a few days ago?
I’m looking forward to discussing this below…
Dino Dalle Carbonare