Not many companies had the audacity to start cutting up such an expensive car but one man single handedly made it a trend. The idea that owners are willing to take a hacksaw to their exotic machinery is part of what the Liberty Walk appeal is, wouldn’t you agree?
This particular shop visit took place while on my virgin trip to the Tokyo Auto Salon. During which I got to befriend Hyuma-san, the son of Wataru Kato and he graciously allowed us to drop by the shop and explore the different makes and models they were working on, we’ll give you a sneak peak at some of Kato-san’s more rarely seen creations!
We hopped on board the never late Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka station to Nagoya before jumping on a local train to where Liberty walk was located. As we stepped out of the train station, we were greeting by falling snowflakes but we pressed on making our way to the shop on foot. After a 15 minute walk, you’ll come across an intersection where you’ll notice a bright pink and stretched Chrysler 300C. As you survey the surroundings is when you’ll realize you’ve arrived at the famed Liberty walk. There are two shops bearing the Liberty Walk signage, the first being the top photo where alongside the 300C is the first LB GTR. The second shop as you’ll see below was flanked with a row BMWs, Dodges and other lesser seen creations. A strong American influence could be felt as you walked pass the graffiti lined red brick walls and Vegas style Neon signboards. An appropriate backdrop for all the American made machines and even a police-inspired interceptor!
Stepping in to the comforts of a heated shop was a nice change of atmosphere after enduring freezing temperatures during our 15 minute walk from the train station. It a while to get our body temperatures back up before Hyuma-san guided us around the shop. Almost all of Liberty Walk’s merchandise were available and could be purchased from this particular shop which was decorated with Neon signs and various automotive memorabilia. An old school jukebox sat alongside Forgiato wheels that can be seen on many of the creations that carry that LB badge.
All things Liberty Walk could be found in the shop ranging from T-shirts to caps as well as scaled models of the Shakotan rides owned by Kato-san manufactured by a company called Aoshima.
For the dad’s that sneak out to bring in their exotic machinery to get worked on while they are supposed to be babysitting, the kids are catered to with a separate play area and baby sized Lamborghini also decked in a Liberty walk widebody. Nothing but the best for both parent and children! They also made sure that there was always some one supervising the children.
You can tell it wasn’t just recently that Kato-san started snapping necks with the vehicles he styles. His row of trophies lining the side of the shop and guarded by a full sized Predator figurine is proof that he has been doing it for a very long time.
The parking area just next to the shop houses the rest of their seldom seen builds, most of which are just as eye catching any widebody super car. The one that would draw your attention to almost immediately was this slammed military themed school bus. It’s paint and concept made it look as though it was ready to take on a zombie apocalypse, sticking your rifles out the sliding windows and defending the bus!
From laying frame on the ground to completely lifted, the roof line of this Hummer stood above the roof-lines of the sea of other cars.
The diversity that Liberty walk had was staggering! Walking over to the other more famous shop sat a pair of opposites. An eco-friendly earth saving Toyota Prius next to a flame spitting fuel guzzling monster R35 GTR. Liberty walk actually also carry numerous parts from exterior to interior for the Toyota Prius! Imagine telling a group of car guys that you own a Liberty walk… Prius… Still a pretty cool thing to have!
The R35 is a thing of beauty in the flesh. The swan neck spoiler has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its more efficient design in providing downforce, largely due to the undisrupted airflow on the underside of the spoiler.
The shop was quite stuffed because of all the items which were coming back from the TAS. Liberty walk had one of the larger booths at the show with the Kenmeri and Murcielago on display now back in the shop to protect it from Nagoya’s winter conditions.
From his choice of cars, it should be apparent to you that Kato has love for two types of vehicle styles, the ultra expensive and super rare supercars and the shakotan Japanese marques.
Hidden behind the Kenmeri if your sharp eyes noticed is the not so common Gumpert Apollo. Kato-san sure has good taste in hyper exotics much like his gorgeous white F40.
Bozo bikes also has a part in this Japanese tuner’s heart with a stash of two wheelers parked inside.
The younger bunch don’t get left out it with scaled replicas of the in full Liberty Walk fashion including this Hakosuka. These are not $100 massed produced plastic toys you find at the local supermart. Its actually a quad bike beneath that custom bodywork, wheels and paint. It actually does look like the factory Lamborghini wheels but I’m uncertain if its a similar width.
Next to the workshop was an office space which housed some of the things which were of interest to Kato-san.
Hyuma got one of his staff to drive us down to where LB Performance, the actual workshop where all the work to the cars are done. Its situated in a little town lined with houses and fields, looks peaceful until Liberty walk cars get started up. Wonder if its where he coined the phrase “Imagine all the people living life in peace” that seems to grace many of his cars. LB Performance is where you will find most of the speed orientated cars from Ferraris to GTRs and a small collection of his shakotan cars.
Spot that sneaky midnight club decal on the rear bumper? We missed out that little detail and it was only when the boys at Mayday Garage spotted it that we realized what we were looking at. The bits that look matt black on this view are actually dry carbon, providing a little contrast from the rest of the car.
With this many 458s in Singapore, I wonder when will we see the first Liberty Walk 458 hit our shores. We can only wait in anticipation for news.
This R35 was shot to fame from the numerous photos that was posted online after TAS.
This particular one was probably my favourite car of the lot, the 458 Spider in an option pearl white full LB Performance kit. The open top gives this creation a tinge of playfulness instead the all round go fast nature of the hardtop variant. The wheel selection seems to be a set of Rotiform SNA instead of the usual Forgiato.
I also mentioned about Kato’s obsession with shakotan cars, stashed away in the shop providing a stark contrast of modern variety between the ones parked outside and inside.
As the evening was approaching, we decided to head back to the station where we made a fool of ourselves trying to rent a bicycle from a bicycle storage used by train commuters to store their bicycles before boarding the train. I’ve still more to share from my adventures to Japan so do stay tuned for more!
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