This week’s throwback is a little different as we revisit the Liberty Walk Lamborghini Miura, the car that divided petrolheads across the globe.
Japan as a society can be pretty tough. Imagine a place where standing out is looked down upon, and where attempting to be an individual is met with judging eyes. It’s all about fitting in with a specific group, abiding by the social constraints and traditions that have helped shape the country into what it has become today. And the best thing of all is they’ve got it down to an art form. Being part of the system is how you are rewarded in the workplace, follow the guidelines and work as one with your fellow colleagues and one day, you will be rewarded with retirement. But then there’s life outside of the workplace, outside of the lemming-like culture you are forced to endure. That’s why people transform on the weekend, the short amount of time where one can be their own person, and indulge in hobbies that bring him or her passion. It’s as if people hang up the drab gray suits and formal attire and make a drastic change into the people that they really are. And that’s where Kato-san at Liberty Walk comes in.
Kato offers the impossible, a way to stand out, to be seen, and to be noticed. If you belong to that unique group of people that believe owning a Ferrari or a Lamborghini is just not enough anymore, then Liberty Walk has got you covered. What they do is sell you a dream, a transformation for your car, the same transformation that you as a person may go through from your day-to-day self to releasing your inner weekend warrior. On the world-wide car scene, Liberty Walk have become a behemoth over the past 5-years or so. A global dealer network, plenty of show-stopping creations at some of the world’s biggest events, and an army of fans have ensured that, on the modern car scene at least, the company has transcended normality to become legendary. They’re a bona fide styling icon, and offer some of the hottest products on the market right now. All that being said though, we’re not here to talk about what can be done to modern cars. This project is more a case of Kato-san, getting back to his classic roots… and blowing up the internet along the way.
Custom body kits, with their signature widebody conversions, are at the core of what this unique Nagoya based shop have been creating for the last few years. These usually find themselves going into production for all manner of exotica, and then being shipped all over the world. Kato-san however has quite the passion for the classics. As a former member of the infamous Bosozoku clan, he’s been known to more than dabble with Kyusha, Shatokan and Grachan creations in the past. You could say that, rather handily for us, his personal taste in retro Japanese metal is not only profound, but it’s very much in his blood. In fact, we featured his classic baby blue Kenmeri Skyline not so long ago, and it remains one of the all-time great crowd pleasers. But, this one is different to the Datsun, it’s different to his more recent RX-3 build too. Even though it’s modified in Kato-san’s distinct style, it’s clearly no traditional Boso brawler. No, there’s far more of an exotic, not to mention international, flavour here.
But why build any classic one-off, when the majority of his business is in the production of kits for expensive modern motors? Well, apart from his own tastes, he knew that turning up at a massive, globally-renowned event like the Tokyo Auto Salon with merely a selection new kits for the modern Aventador, R35 GT-R and Lexus LC wasn’t going to cut it. People expect that from him, so he needed to top all of this with one project that would be an automatic showstopper, a car that everyone would instantly be talking about. What he needed was a one-off, a known, recognised and much-loved classic, but one that was unmistakably his own work. So, he built the Liberty Walk Miura.
Now, we know what you’re thinking; a Miura? Did he really cut up a multi-million quid collectable? Obviously, we’d love to say yes, just so all the smug purists can announce to the world how sacrilegious it all is. But the base car isn’t the real deal, it is in fact a GTD Ford GT kit car. Kato picked this up a few years back and, once he decided what he wanted to do with it, set to work having the one-off Miura cowls hand shaped in FRP.
Of course, experts will instantly see that it’s not a genuine Lambo, but for most people it’s close enough. It still hits you with the sort of presence that sees you standing there with your mouth wide open. Once the Ideal bags are aired-out the Miura’s roofline sits at just 32.2-inches tall, the slammed look further enhanced by the way the bolt-on fender flares and the stretched tyres sit. It’s certainly a first, what appears to be an Italian classic mated to Japanese Shakotan and Kaido, influences topped with only the most luscious SSR MKIII wheels! OK, so on paper it just doesn’t make any sense, but the execution really is something else.
Under the rear cowl which sports an integrated ducktail spoiler (no doubt to add extra theatre to the Miura’s sleek profile), sits an old Ford Motorsport 302ci V8 crate engine. It would have been nice to pop in a Lamborghini V12 of course, but the Ford lump came with the kit and still offers plenty of grunt. Even so Kato-san spiced it up with a set of custom manifolds and a system with, as is something of his signature, not a single silencer to be seen.
Balancing out the angry exhaust note is a quartet of Weber carbs which are just as stunning to look at as they are as keeping the engine’s thirst for super unleaded at bay. Swing open the driver’s door and you soon realise that this car isn’t exactly for everybody though. Looks aside, space in the two-seater cockpit is very limited, anyone over about 5-feet-tall requires a calf-removal operation to even think about squeezing in there… and if you went back for seconds at lunchtime, then you can really forget about it. That said, no one can deny that the cockpit has epic vintage looks and stunning details. Just take a peek at the reversed gear pattern on the sill-mounted open-gate shifter for starters.
In all, this car not only fits beautifully with Kato-san’s distinct personal style, and his love of classic cars, but it goes a long way to enhance the kudos of the brand he created too. We’ve no doubt that, when it comes to modern motors, Liberty Walk will continue to thrive. But the best thing is that, the more millions they put in the bank, the more that gets spent on building Kato-sans personal collection of old skool road warriors. After the Kenmeri, the RX-3 and now this one, we just can’t wait to see what he lays his hands on next!
Tech Spec: Liberty Walk Lamborghini Miura
Ford Motorsport 302ci V8, Weber carburetors, one-off Wolf manifolds and exhaust system
SSR MKIII 15×10-inch -20 (front), 15×12-inch -60 (rear), 60mm front spacers, 90mm rear spacers, Yokohama Advan A050 205/50R15 (front), 225/50R15 (rear), Ideal air suspension, modified lower arms
Custom Lamborghini Miura cowls, Liberty Walk overfenders, Liberty Walk front lip spoiler, Liberty Walk ducktail spoiler, Vitaloni Sebring mirrors
Liberty Walk roll cage, GT40 replica dashboard, Momo steering wheel
Originally featured in Retro Cars magazine. Words and Photos: Dino Dalle Carbonare