Meet the man who takes an angle grinder to a Ferrari 458


Hop on a flight to the Aichi Prefecture in Japan, scramble down a couple of narrow alleyways and you'll eventually stumble across Wataru Kato, president of Liberty Walk Japan – a car tuner like no other.

The act of adding bodykits, enlarging spoilers, slamming suspension and going wild with garish paintwork is usually the reserve of the hot hatch fanatic. Maybe you'll see a VW Passat given the tuning treatment or possibly a Mazda MX-5, but it's highly unlikely you'll come across a Lamborghini Murcielago or Ferrari 458 Italia with BBS rims and an enormous whale-tail.

Wataru Kato would disagree for he is the man who established Liberty Walk in 1993, a car garage buying and selling prestigious American, German and Italian cars to the Japanese market.

Bored with how 'subtle' newer models looked (and being a big fan of the '90s tuning style) Kato-san soon began designing and producing his own bodykits for a range of supercars including the Lamborghini Murcielago and, most recently, the Ferrari 458.

Here's what he had to say for himself when Fast Car Magazine caught up with him...

What made you start chopping up supercars and bolting on crazy bodykits to them?

"Liberty Walk is all about building exciting cars to make people happy, and what's more exciting than a modified supercar? It's my aim to reach out to the younger generation and introduce them to car culture. When you see a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you cannot help but stare, regardless of age."

Liberty Walk Japan Tuners

Liberty Walk Japan Tuners

You talk about supercars like they're £5000 VWs, where do you even begin with chopping up a £150,000 Ferrari 458?

You start like any other car – they are just metal and materials after all. You measure, cut, and hope you measured it right!

Okay, say we're lucky enough to own a Ferrari and we want some Liberty Walk magic. What sort of costs are we thinking?

The kit itself costs $25,725 (£15,632) and installation is $10,000 (£6,076).

Where do you get your inspiration from when creating each model?

Mostly old Nissan Skylines (before GT-R) and classic race cars. Take the Lamborghini Murcielago; its style is much different to the Diablo. I prefer the Diablo, so I created a bodykit to give this older style on a newer car.

You're one of the happiest people in modifying – business must be going pretty well then?

It is now! 5-6 years ago the bodykits were not selling, and I was considering stopping. Now we have over 20 models including the Lamborghini Murcielago, BMW M3, Nissan GT-R and Ferrari 458 worked on by Liberty Walk worldwide. It is impossible not to be happy and it's exciting when you see your cars getting so much attention.

For the full interview and to see more pictures of Wataru Kato-san's creations buy or download issue 340 of Fast Car Magazine, out on the 4th of February.