"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 "
Liberty Walk: Supercar Tweaker and Guest Blogger
Wataru Kato on being Liberty Walk
I have been customising cars since I was eighteen, when I first got my driving license.
Now I customise supercars for customers who want more than just simply the most expensive car on the market. Some people call me an outlaw. But I think I am just expressing myself and giving people what they want.
There was a big customising scene around me as I was growing up. Everyone who had a car or a motorbike was altering them, tricking them out. I looked at how older guys were doing to their cars and I was impressed, so started doing it myself. I always thought I would be able to something better than they were doing, something really special.
By the time I was twenty-two I was working as a mechanic in car workshops. I made a point of dedicating myself to learning as much as I could, knowing that sooner or later I would be working with my own company, and on my own customer cars. Four years later, when I was twenty-six, I set up my own place for the first time.
I always wanted Liberty Walk to be a custom shop that makes people’s dreams a reality.
It was a pretty small place at first. I had a lot of friends who would come to the shop and support what I was doing. They bought a lot of cars from me, brought their cars in for me to work on. I had a business giving my friends what they wanted.
There was a culture created around what I was doing. I was no different from my customers. I was one of them. It wasn’t long until I was able to do some really good work.
Being able to see a vision in your head and to make that vision a reality is a very special skill. It’s a skill that not many people actually have, and I think I am lucky to be able to do what I do. My passion is all about trying to do something that no one else has done before.
My process starts with a whole lot of images in my mind, ideas of what I would like to achieve with a particular project. I think I am quite unusual in that I have nothing but custom cars on the mind. I don’t think about anything else. I never, ever think about what is not possible. For me, when I think about a car I think about what is the maximum I can do to it? How can I push the limits of what is possible while retaining the aesthetic integrity of the car?
About three years ago I got one of these visions in my head of putting a flared arch on a Lamborghini. The very next day I went to work and cut out the style and found out how I could apply this to a customer’s Lamborghini. That was the start of our brand’s style.
Before we started transforming supercars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis we did a more standard kind of customisation, doing body kits and parts for all sorts of cars. These sell very well in Japan – and we got noticed for our custom stuff here through these kits and parts. But we wanted to appeal to more people around the world, to get them excited and to appreciate Japanese customisation and tuning, so we wanted to put out cars that mixed stuff like the old Skylines into new cars, Italian cars, German cars, etc – and in a balanced way.
When we do what we do to supercars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris I’m sure there are a lot of people in the industry out there who are thinking, ‘what are you doing?’ But we’re not hurting anyone. We just doing what we do for our audience and our customers. Of course, when you do something different and there are a lot of people who will try to criticise you, restrict you, because you are doing something they can’t do.
In this world there are so many rules. So many people say you can’t do this, you can’t do that. It’s important to keep doing your thing.
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