Not All For Show: Liberty Walk Builds A 1,200hp 4-Rotor S15

Sometimes I just need to take a step back and try to comprehend what the car world has become. There is so much happening at every level, and so many new directions being pushed by the big manufacturers. But even in the aftermarket and enthusiast space, the fight to stay relevant and become the next big thing is a real struggle.

In planning his latest build, Kato-san of Liberty Walk must have done some reflection too. Taking on Formula Drift Japan as a first-time entrant is no easy feat, and Kato really didn’t want to take any chances or do things halfheartedly.


Not that there was any danger of that, mind you. Kato is a mover and shaker, someone who likes to disrupt the industry with his builds, which are then usually unveiled at top-tier events around the globe.


But with the Covid pandemic making Tokyo Auto Salon a no go for this year, I had to venture outside of Japan’s capital city to see Kato’s main 2021 showpiece in person. That’s why these images are coming straight to you from beautiful Hyogo Prefecture, where another driving force in this project is based.


Total Car Produce Magic, or TCP Magic, has a reputation in Japan and around the world for its badass rotary-powered builds. It’s the shop where Mad Mike Whiddett’s Formula Drift Japan cars are put together and campaigned out of.

As is the case with many of the other builds Kato has put his name to over the years – including his baby-blue Kenmeri (by far my favorite) – he likes to tap into the knowledge and knowhow of the best engine builders in the business, leaving him to concentrate on the stuff he’s really good at.

And indeed, looks-wise, the car you see here is unlike any S15 we’ve ever featured before.

Building on the success of the Group 5 Super Silhouette DR30-inspired ER34 Skyline that he debuted at TAS 2020, Kato has applied similar styling to the Silvia. With its yellow and white livery, it instantly conjures up images of the 1983 S110 that Kazuyoshi Hoshino drove in what was perhaps the wildest Japanese race championship ever.


No body panel has been left untouched with the Liberty Walk S15 Super Silhouette aero kit, starting at the front with a snowplow-like integrated chin spoiler – a common design detail of the wild Group 5 racers of yesteryear.


I’m not really sure where the fins that run along the hood/fender lines on Super Silhouette cars originally came from, but Kato made sure to incorporate them here, just as he did on the ER34.


Seeing this is a pro drift car, the headlights have been swapped out for a pair of Valenti units that feature projector units but are otherwise open vents.


Much like with the ER34, the integration of these boxy fenders (+50mm in the front and +70mm at the rear) must have been quite difficult to achieve. But the end result is a well-executed hybrid homage to the style that brought about the Kaido Racer movement we know and love.


While it would have been nice to see a set of Hoshino Racing wheels – or at least a retro take on them – the S15 runs Liberty Walk’s own five-spoke forged design, 18×9.5-inch +12 at the front and 18×11-inch +15 at the rear, all shod in Fivex rubber – 265/35R18 and 285/35R18 front and rear respectively.

There is nothing remotely stance-oriented about the way this car sits, nor is there air involved. The substantial lowering is courtesy of a set of KW Clubsport coilovers at each corner, suspension chosen for its ability to provide the best possible body control, and of course grip, which a drift car needs just as much as a track car does.


Like on most LBW cars, the S15 runs an CSD front setup with 4-pot calipers mated to 2-piece rotors. As you’ll see further down, the rear brake package includes a hydraulic e-brake.


The question you might be asking here, is why Kato left his Nissan in the hands of a rotary engine specialist? Well, let’s lift the hood and you can see for yourself…

Brap Brap, x4

To help us with the details, we need this man, Taisuke Kawato, otherwise known as the brains behind TCP Magic.


Kawato-san started tuning cars about two decades ago, initially focusing on Nissan SR20DETs and all the other common high performance piston engines popular in Japan at the time. A few years later he decided to jump into the rotary world, and he’s never looked back since. Today, he’s a revered Mazda rotary specialist, and one of only a few in Japan pushing the boundaries of Wankel engine tuning.


That means going wild with three and four-rotor setups, and you’ll find the latter powering Kato’s S15.


The custom-built TCP Magic 26B has been bridgeported to maximize performance and take full advantage of the two Garrett turbos supplying 1.3-bar (19psi) of boost.


Since I photographed the car, Kawato’s had time to put it on the hub dyno and map the Haltech Nexus R5 that controls everything, ahead of the first Formula D Japan round of the season. The result? A solid 1,200hp and a very healthy 961Nm of torque. In this day and age, there’s little point entering a series like FDJ without bringing the firepower, and with numbers like these, the hired gun – Japanese drifting royalty Tetsuya Hibino – will surely have the speed.

Keeping a monster setup like this functioning at full potential is a fuel delivery system able to channel an extraordinary amount of high-octane juice through Injector Dynamics ID2000 injectors, two 2,000cc/min units per rotor housing. This is all backed up by an equally-serious ignition system, delivering optimal spark to eight plugs.

You can see above that boost control comes via Turbosmart wastegates and a Haltech solenoid.


You have to head around the back to get a view of how the fuel supply and cooling systems are laid out.

The Radium Engineering fuel cell sits nice and low in the custom-fabricated rear chassis section, cradled in position right behind the radiator. The filler is positioned right in the center of the rear trunk lid – or what is left of it after a lot of material was cut away to help with cooling and general ventilation.

From the tank, the fuel is lifted, passed through the Haltech Flex Fuel sensor to measure alcohol content, and then sent to the engine bay to do its job.

Back to the cooling, you can see how the PWR radiator is laid out with a pair of extractor fans and more Radium Engineering components to complete the plumbing.


For handling, the aforementioned KW Clubsport 3-way coilovers with external reservoirs all round are fitted on ST Suspensions adjustable top mounts at the front. This will allow the team to fine tune the car’s behavior to Hibino’s requirements at each track.

I’ve followed pro drifting in Japan since the very early days of the D1 Grand Prix, and I’ve seen firsthand how quality damping has become an extremely important aspect of car setup; from basic aftermarket suspension in the beginning, to fully-fledged motorsport tech today with high and low-speed rebound adjustment. KW is the only manufacturer that brings Nürburgring 24 Hour Race winning-tech to Japanese pro drifting, so what’s in this car is as good as it gets.

The S15 front end has been completely rebuilt around a Wisefab setup, allowing for perfect Ackerman geometry and as much steering angle as possible.

The cockpit

Along with steering and suspension advancements, it’s always refreshing to see that this path of Japanese pro drift evolution includes roll cages. Back in the day many of the cars sported pretty basic setups, which were mostly just bolted in, but now it’s all very much aligned with international regulations.


I really like how they’ve gone with a carbon version of the stock S15 dash in this build. I’m all for minimalism in race cars, but there is something so nice about keeping the inner workings of the electrical system nicely out of sight. Not that there is much of that in this car, as all the electrics run off the Haltech Nexus R5’s built-in PDM. This is the first car I have seen in Japan with the Haltech iC-7 color data-logger.

All functions and switches are neatly integrated into the keypad or accessible through the display itself.


The angry rotary channels all its might through a Holinger Engineering 6-speed sequential to the Winters Performance LSD rear end, with an easy-to-access and quick-change final drive.


Kato’s ability to not only come up with these wild ideas, but also execute them has once again seen him create an awesome machine. And in this case it’s one of the most unique drift cars to have ever come out of Japan.

I’m interested to hear what you guys think about this build, so let’s bring the conversation to the comments section below.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare



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Abdullah Isdanul

Truly one of a kind. Didn't expect Kato-san would put 26B instead of RB26 or 2JZ. Bodykit looks nice ngl, Yet it more fit to a Track Car instead of Drifting IMO.


man im so tired of the same cars over and over again. will they ever stop tuning the same four cars?? where's the diversity anymore?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well what else is there?

Shaiyan Hossain

S chassis will always continue to be a mainstay of drifting. and fwiw, this is a pretty refreshing take on a pro level S chassis these days
i wouldn't be complaining if I saw a 1200hp 4 rotor in action but that's just me


in culture from japanese manufacturers arent there anymore like the 80s 90s heydays - that bubble money produced cars that were decades ahead of the competition and provided platforms for tuners for years to come. however, ever since the asian economic crisis of the late 90s, followed by the world wide recession of the late 00s, these manufacturers have no R&D money and the platform is gone

so like a baker that's running out of dough, the bread aint coming out the oven anymore...they have to rehash whatever was left from the fruits of that bubble era


i have no problem with japan. but its just even they do the same things. its like. im getting older. why tune cars anymore if nobody's gonna care?


YOU don't care. Doesn't mean nobody cares... You don't have to watch this. There's enough diversity, and we all love different things. This isn't my favourite style, but I'm glad it exists, and it is very well executed here. You have to respect that at least.


You're right, everyone and their mother's doing old GT inspired, 4 rotor Nissans.

Why comment anymore if nobody's gonna care?

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Now I want to see Kato-san do a Silhouette kit for GT86/BRZ, then dump in a 4A-GE or 2T-G into the engine bay. Hehehe!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Do like that idea!


Hell yeah!


The "fins" at the hood edges are called fences. They are a legit aero feature used on the original Shillouette racers, I think.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes I am aware that they were used on the race cars, just I do question their actual function. Had they been that effective they probably would still be in use


I'm pretty sure they were effective on a more flat-sided car, like the R30 Super Silhouette Skyline. Fences are still used for abrupt transitions on the tips of airplane wings, automotive rear diffusers, and front splitters. On a flat sided car, they were worried about the air spilling over the side with a tumbling (insead of flowing) motion and creating drag. I'm guessing as cars got more rounded in their transition from top to sides, this became less of a problem.


Cool build. I'm getting lots of Audi S1 hill climb vibes.

Is it an illusion that the throttle pedal is higher than the brake pedal? Is there a reason for setting it up like this? I usually have the brake pedal higher for heel-tow action, but I've never had a sequential gearbox with a trick ECU that might handle rev-matching for me.


Looks like a floor mount


Very interesting car, the product of some of the top names in the industry taking their hand at something new.
Great article and photography (as usual), Dino.
The only thing 'missing' is a sound/video clip of this thing in action. Would it sound more spectacular than a 787B?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks! And yes it's loud as!


Mad Mike's 4 rotor "---bul" drift cars have the usual rotary buzz. I think this car will sound like that.

Mazzei's Formula RX-7 has a more elaborate exhaust set up to sound like the 787B.


No, it's way more muted and quiet because of the turbochargers.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Hardly muted, it was eardrum-piercing!


This car is is so cool looking. I love Silhouettes!


It would be nice to have some audio/video from this engine. I mean: quality photography and writing as always (hat off to you, sir), but sometimes pictures alone aren't enough.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

OK I'll stick some video on my IG Reel then


I can definitely see this car doing rips at Formula D
I wonder whose car it might be

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I did mention it a few times in the story. It's owned by Kato of LBW, built by TCP Magic, driven by Hibino

Samvel Rostomian

who can share old images on the desktop. 2008, 2009, 2010 - years


Is it me or are the quality of the pictures average? Seems like different speedhunter authors have better quality pictures while some have low resolution that mirrors “HD quality.”


Shame they wasted all this effort just for a drift car, a couple of show laps, no real racing, just who can generate the most smoke and ruin a new set of tires the quickest. Wonder how come they didn't fully gut the hood and doors? And zip ties on a shock reservoir is only going to last a couple laps, well that's all they are going anyway.


Those fins are straight outta BMW's CSL 3.0 racer playbook, back when BMW was run by people who actually had a clue what cars are, make them reliable and robust, should look like, and aspire to (at all) compete with.

Kato is a beast with these ideas, but gotta say, these "Silhouette" designs seem to have a great start, but then get lost in terrible, unaesthetic detail. They need form resolution and leverage their function(s) more, desperately. They feel too early-Bomex cheapo bodykit wannabe, less vintage-retro-fusions.


It's so fine that LB applied just the right amount of chunky bodykit on this S15.
However, the radiator at the back just poked out (neither in nor out), interrupting the profile?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It does most of its time traveling sideways...


The first I can recall a fender fence being used is on the BMW 3.0 CSL race cars in the 70's, but I think there are earlier examples of its use. Just can't remember. Getting too old... They worked due to the vortex generated that helped keep the flow past the windscreen reasonably straight. 加藤さんはおもしろい生活を送っていますね。

Dino Dalle Carbonare

He certainly is!


Cool take on this one. Love the build. Can someone explain the port setup? I see 8 intake runners and article says its a bridgeport but 13b center irons are used. I thought those irons did not have enough material to port to secondary port opening/closing specs. All the 4 rotors I've seen in detail are peripheral.


This is so sick. Love the details of the bodykit and the rotor swap is wild.

I vote we have 30 minute speedhunters youtube videos about these cars too please!


The theory behind the fins were to divide the air and channel it to the appropriate places on the car as well as creat vortecies. Would also like to see this kit used in a time attack fashion, see if he aero holds up


Hi Dino ,

may i ask what are the mag wheels on it


Sorry but anybody knows whats the brand of the pedal box he's using?