458 by Liberty Walk


Wataru Kato shows us around his outlaw Ferrari

When I was a kid car customisation was all about being a rebel.

It was all about moving in a different direction from the rest of society. It was an energetic time, and there were lots of us taking part in this rebellion. In a way, the Ferrari 458 is an adult version of what I was doing as a kid.

The mainstream car makers are all trying to make their cars more and more modern, futuristic and full of technology. I move in the opposite direction. I want to design a body that is sort of timeless, or shifts around in time according to the way you look at it. If you feel something looks like an English car from 20 years ago, you feel nostalgic, emotional, right? That’s Liberty Walk’s brand, to mix in the old and the new to see how it turns out.


Any new car, particularly Ferraris, Lamborghinis – but also the current run of Japanese cars like the Nissan GTR, and the Toyota 86 – are too packaged, too finished. This makes them difficult to customise. You’re limited in what you can do. Most dealerships in Japan now offer you only that pure stock car, with only pure factory options. I think people are tired of this, and that’s where we come in.

I don’t mean that these cars are ‘too perfect’ and therefore they’re bad. In fact the design and technology of the Ferrari 458 is so good it’s very difficult to improve upon it. Apart from a little bit of digital remapping, the exhaust system and the air suspension, I haven’t changed a lot mechanically on this car. It’s more making that shape look more nostalgic, more raw, more like a race car. I mean, the people at Maranello have been making great cars for a long time, haven’t they?

That bolt-on arch style is synonymous with Japanese customisers who came before me. These guys worked really hard at creating this style. I think that’s what people think of when they think of Japanese customisation. Other people are doing it too, some of them my friends, it’s their style as much as mine – but I like to think with these cars I am adding something unique.

Thise bolts...

For me, customising cars is all about making people happy.

When I was just customising cars for the Japanese market I didn’t use the Lennon quote. I don’t speak English or Italian or anything, I only speak Japanese – but I wanted my cars to come with some sort of message.

I felt it was important to make people feel happy because the world can be pretty sad. If you watch the news it’s all dark, even the Japanese news. So it’s all about being positive, really. To make people happy all we can do is customisation. If we can bring people happiness just by looking at our cars, then that makes me happy.

When I started out I picked up cars so cheap they were almost free. I’d tweak them, bolt on a set of flared arches and sell them on to a customer and they would love them and feel happy. I still have those cars inside me. So when I have the opportunity to do something amazing with a car like this Ferrari, harnessing the power of others, it’s an incredible privilege.

That’s what Liberty walk is about.


images Michael Fordham/Influx/Liberty Walk