Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we hit the archives and take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s it’s Kato-san of Liberty Walk’s Ferrari F40 from 2013, one of our favourite feature cars of all time!
Modifying an F40 is against car culture law right? Not from where we are standing…
Kato-san of Liberty Walk is a car enthusiast like no other. On one side of the spectrum, his vast collection includes the most in-your-face shakotan rides from the seventies, cars that back in the day were responsible for sparking his passion in automotive.
These join some of the most sought after exotics money can buy, but it’s one specific car we were primarily there to see. No matter what you may be into, or what particular type of car tickles your senses, it’s pretty much impossible not to bow down to the awesomeness that is the Ferrari F40. It’s the last car that the great Enzo Ferrari was able to give input on before he passed away, and regarded by many as not only the best creation to come from Maranello, but the ultimate driver’s car, ever.
We don’t know what’s more impressive; that Kato-san actually owns two F40s, or that he has actually customized one to spice it up a little! The white example we were there to see wears a one-off exterior inspired by the ultra rare LM homologation versions of the F40. At the front the massive, one-piece Kevlar cowl has been stripped of the pop-up headlights that help give the F40 that low pointy nose and replaced with fixed HID projectors behind the clear cover section that houses the indicators and small lights. As Kato-san explains this has actually helped drop a significant amount of weight as the mechanism that operated the stock headlights was quite heavy.
The two NACA ducts on the bonnet, the F40’s unmistakable nostrils if you will, were sealed up and a larger single opening created on the lower part of the nose. This helps bring cooling air to the front-mounted radiator, but is mainly there to mimic the LM. Kato then added a custom made front lip spoiler, protruding about 10cm to help create some useable front downforce at speed. The alterations continue at the rear, where the wing part of the one-piece spoiler was cut away and replaced with an adjustable GT-wing type piece. This, again, was to emulate the LM, which had a more complex rear spoiler to generate more rear downforce. Not wanting to risk damaging the stock 5-spoke wheels, Kato went for a more aggressive set up from Enkei, using forged magnesium alloy 5-spoke Enkei Sport rims at each corner.
The single lug nut, 18in lightweight wheels are finished in matt black and measure a whopping 12J at the rear and 10J up front. Tyres of choice are Michelin Pilot Sport, 265/35 for the front and steamroller-wide 335/30 at the rear. With no form of traction control, and a whopping surge of torque available in the mid-range, it’s no wonder this beefy size was required to attempt to channel all that fury to the Japanese tarmac!
Kato-san knows very well that for a car to look its best, it needs to sit just right. While this is no problem for his chassis-scraping zokusha (Google it!), the last thing he wanted to do was risk damaging the F40’s precious body on poorly surfaced roads or when tackling ramps and other obstacles. So even if the car does sit statically low on its custom Aragosta 2-way adjustable suspension kit, each of the 4-dampers are fitted with Roberuta air-cups that, at a push of a button, raise the front or rear of the car by up to 5cm. While there is no arguing with the F40’s performance and handling capabilities for a car that’s 25 years old, the braking is something that concerned Kato-san. No problem now however, as rather large 8-pot Brembo calipers were fitted at each corner, the same items that were used on the Ferrari Enzo. Custom 2-piece Rdd slotted discs followed, to guarantee that the F40 can stop just as efficiently as it packs on the speed.
Opening up the Kevlar rear section of the F40 reveals the small capacity, twin turbocharged V8. You have to take a few minutes to take it all in, to appreciate the racecar-like layout of everything. From the way the twin intercoolers and airboxes are laid out, to those massive rear tyres and the exposed chassis.
While the engine, complete with twin IHI turbos has been left stock, Kato-san spiced things up a little with a very naughty looking exhaust system. It’s literally three straight pipes – two for each of the turbos’ outlets – one for the massive external wastegate. This helps liberate a few horses and sharpen up the throttle response, but it’s the sheer noise it creates that firmly cements itself in your brain. This thing is seriously LOUD!
It’s when we open the paper-light carbon fibre doors that we kind of gather that Kato-san must have quite a sense of humour. In the minimalistic interior, aside from a steering wheel, three pedals and the old school Ferrari gated shifter, it’s the Pioneer headunit that stands out. There is no way in hell that you could listen to music in this car, not with the racket the straight-through exhaust makes! Kato even added a Pioneer amp and a pair of high-end Pioneer speakers, but as he tells us, he can’t remember the last time he turned it on!
Aside from the comical addition of a stereo system it’s the simplicity of the ambience that stands out the most. You sit there surrounded only by the things that matter, the controls of the car. There is no electronic trickery to fiddle with, no flashy carbon fibre trim to dress up areas of the cabin; everything is focused around driving. Fast.
Our day with this legendary machine ends in a short drive back to the Liberty Walk shop, where we were treated to the fury of that mid-mounted turbocharged-V8 and its bewitching overrun, which supplies machine-gun like pops at the slightest easing off of the throttle.
The in-gear acceleration was probably what impressed the most, able to pack on speed at such an alarming rate. It’s incredible to think that the F40 is over two-decades old! This is a car every manufacturer should look to for inspiration. It embodies the essence of a sports car in so many ways, from its simplicity to its explosive performance and that all-important low weight. The fact that someone’s had the balls to modify one, just makes it all the sweeter.
TECH SPEC LIBERTY WALK FERRARI F40
Liberty Walk one-off straight exhaust system.
Enkei Sport forged-Mg 1 10Jx18in front and 12x18in rear, Michelin Pilot Sport 265/35R18 (front), 335/30R18 (rear), Aragosta adjustable suspension, Aragosta cups for front & rear lift, Brembo 8-pot front & rear caliper kit, Rdd 2-piece floating slotted discs front & rear.
Liberty Walk Dolce front cowl conversion, Liberty Walk Dolce rear spoiler conversion, full white respray.
Pioneer/Carrozzeria headunit, Pioneer/Carrozzeria amp, Pioneer/Carrozzeria speakers, Yupiteru speed camera/police speed trap radar & jammer.
Words & photos Dino Dalle Carbonare