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
He should have used "sickest" so that you could have asked whether the car was is ill or not.
Makes me want to roll one...
Not sure if we could even drive something like this around in Australia. They can't even put the brand on a pack of ciggies, not to mention the government has put up the price 12.5% each year for the last zillion years. $60 for 40 cigarettes... I wish they would put some of that tax back into the roads over here.
That livery would suit one of those diesel Ford Raptors that belch black smoke every time they change gears... paint the exhaust to look like a lit cigarette...
Wow,,, now that's a great inspiration for the youth to hustle big dream
i think you meant meme-est. because no one is gonna look at that and think wow thats a fast car lol
Baddest GTR on the planet! Kit is unreal. Livery is iconic. Do not know what FRP means...that is one BAD ride.
you wouldn’t drive this car this car would drive you
I thought it was sickest ill or radical.
also props to john player livery.
these are slowly looking like digirenders though, theres no way someone is this wealthy.
Wow this is like an art sculpture
45k on a a body kit and the motor is still stock?
say it with me: "rice".
Well...I thought I was the only one. You must not be a millennial. lmao.
Once upon a time you'd call an unmodified engine in a car like this rice. How times have changed!
I think the question of the future collectibility and value of these cars will depend on how well the LB Works cars' looks age. It depends on whether the Liberty Walk kits are just a trend or not. I would argue that they are only a trend, but not to disrespect the work of Kato San as I am a big fan of the LB Works kits. The original LB Works kits that we've seen on many cars from 240s to 458s do not look as pleasing as they did when they were first released and had stolen the spotlight. I have a feeling the same thing will happen with this new Silhouette series Kato San is working on. If you just take a look at a car from twenty years ago that has a body kit that was extremely popular back then, you'll be able to understand my theory here. Take Veilside and their RX7 widebody kit as an example. It used to be the coolest thing on wheels but nowadays, to say that it is not very good looking is an understatement. But, that was a different time and you never can tell what the future holds. I hope that as time goes on, my theory does not hold and the LB Works cars become collectibles. I also hope their looks age well and most of all I hope that Kato San keeps making his body kits.
Holy smoke! It's the Batmobile, with JPS livery (Pun intended).
Feel like you're underestimating the difference between countries "40 to 50 years in the future" will affect even anything that still rolls, much less a by-the. "pointlessly slow" internal combustion car.
Japan, and you might be coming from this perspective obviously, will very likely preserve these as an era's "traditional" identity, handmade by locals long dead and carrying a legend of a car model (since Nissan is a zombie company). 45 years wouldn't be enough to see the culture "let go/move on", likely.
In the US and Europe? Lol. They will trade like crypto today: a novelty that some people (then 60-70 years old btw) just won't let go of while the roads crumble or are replaced with whatever our infrastructure will adopt in the next 25 years. The rich will be flying/taxiied, the poor will be hoverboarding/scootering/walking, and some of us "weirdoes" will be driving what we can keep running as a luxury. What's the value then? I can buy a donkey or tractor for not much money, but then there are some expensive donkeys and tractors out there... And they usually arent meant to be used.
I’m a car guy
this is a work of art I love it! and shot beautifuly too. Is there anyway to get these pics in HD for wallpaper
I might need some help. Aren't AWD cars' requirements for wheel width at usually supposed to be identical? With 11-inches in the front and 12-inches at the rear, would that cause anu issues? I may have been ill-informed.
This car is insane. It honestly looks like a remastered version of the prototype with a wing that is..... out of this world.And they really went for it with those gold painted exhausts. Love this build and the article. THANKS DINO!!!
30Y licensee plate wow. Japan must be seriously running out of numbers.
Holy Batwing, it’s the Batmobile.
I liked the JPS livery on a Lotus F1 in ‘72. Who didn’t love Emerson Fittipaldi ? But now on a GTR, not so much.
What a beautiful peace you have made it looks so perfect it's a shame more gtr owners don't do graphics on the gtrs and r35 or any gtr very rare to see this is lovely car though well done I'd be proud to get up to that car in the morning it's a master piece
How much money do you want for it
we are living in the midst of extraordinary talented people
we are living in the midst of extraordinarily talented people
From Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:
3A - Of poor, shabby or inferior quality or status.
3B - Worthy of little regard; contemptible.
4A - Lacking dignity or honor; base.