Grab your children and run! Run and hide, because Kato-san and Liberty Walk is out to get you. Well, all your Ferraris at least.
It was always in the works; call it a progression, starting off with the most unthinkable base for the LBW wide-body conversion with the 458 Italia, and then giving the same attention to the older and more accessible versions of the V8 supercar lineage from Maranello. The statement was made and the world took notice, so now it’s the turn of the F360 and F430.
During a recent visit to Liberty Walk, one of my main objectives was to spend some time with Kato-san’s freshly completed F430 demonstrator.
When you build cars for the sole purpose of turning heads, there is nothing you hold back on. Look at this F430 and you might come to the conclusion that it’s just the same old recipe applied to a different car, and in essence, it is. I’m not going to sit here and attempt to convince you that it’s not; what I am going to do is try to justify its existence.
I mean, just because a style has been done and repeated countless times doesn’t mean it should be totally abandoned, right? Why must we always expect to be shown the next big thing? I’ve thought long and hard about this myself, year upon year as more and more over-fender kits from Rocket Bunny, LBW and every other aero manufacturer that Miura-san has collaborated with makes it to market, and I struggle not to repeat myself when writing about them.
But it comes down to the simple fact that all these shops and brands have found an identity. People seem to still crave it, so who are the shops to say ‘no, screw this, we are going to stop here as we’ve done it for too long’. These are companies built on the sole premise of standing out. There are tuners known for creating the best engines with specific character, much in the same way outfits like LBW inject their own style into builds. While it might not be liked by all, it’s certainly craved enough to warrant its existence.
And so I found myself in front of this 430 soaking it all in. The purist Italian in me hated it for having been chopped up, dropped on air and its true calling in life ruined just to make it look menacing. The other half of me looked at it and couldn’t stop grinning. This is such an unorthodox way of personalizing a sacred icon in the sports car world, and at the same time pissing off those pedantic purists and anoraks that go through life spouting pointless, self-imposed rules about what is okay and what isn’t when it comes to altering a car like this.
I love cars that split opinions, and this my friends does just that. Who gives a shit if it won’t pass Ferrari’s guidelines as a well-kept factory-correct example, because it looks badass out on the street and it gets you noticed. When aired out, the 3SDM wheels tuck nicely into the extended flares to emphasise the whole in-your-face look.
The stock Brembo carbon ceramic brakes haven’t been touched, but the face of each caliper has been machined for a brushed metal look and then repainted with the applicable Ferrari branding added. Little touches of personalisation like this are becoming common in the world of high-end modified exotics.
If there’s one reason why these kits look good no matter what car they are applied to, I’d have to say it’s because they concentrate on emphasising specific and important areas of a car’s shape, most obviously the fenders. Things like the side skirts are often left as is, or simply highlighted with an under-skirt section, as has been done here.
Your eyes automatically then fall on the big radius flares that are screwed onto the stock metal body.
Step back, and as a whole it just makes total sense. You can totally understand why someone would want to be seen behind the wheel of a car like this. You sit there and look, while probably thinking, ‘damn, I’d rock this too if I had enough money’. Am I right?
While the kit is available with a big GT wing, the almost vertical ducktail just completes the looks so damn well and doesn’t pretend to actually provide any real downforce.
Seen from the back, the whole ensemble combines to give you the automotive version of a big, fat middle finger.
And seeing that Kato-san’s style draws direct inspiration from the yankee and bosozoku movements, when a car is laid out and looking its best, it’s never really completed until it has the appropriate soundtrack.
Lift the rear glass gate that covers the 4.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 and you won’t find much in the way of actual tuning. But let’s be honest, the 430 doesn’t really need a boost in power, it’s a superbly balanced car with enough grunt for anyone.
What it does need, like every single other exotic out there, is a rethink in the sound department.
Taking care of that is the Fi Exhaust valved system, a stainless steel cat-back muffler that makes the already sonorous flat-plane crank V8 really wail.
A Few Touches For Maximum Effect
It’s a must-have touch to a project of this nature, and it gives the whole build a far more appealing character.
Realistically, there isn’t much that needs to be done to the interior of a modern Ferrari. Provided it’s been specced up decently from factory – an exercise that can cost you as much as buying a Japanese sports car – you are usually looking at leather covered everything and carbon trim to finish things off.
That’s why this 430 has been left as is, still boasting its comfortable yet supportive leather seats joined by a JDM single-DIN, flip-out navigation/audio system and the wired controller for the air suspension setup.
The dark metallic gray makes it look subtle even. Okay, not really, but it’s definitely less in-your-face and far more elegant than say a bright red or yellow hue.
So there you have it, another LBW project employing the tried and tested approach of cutting fenders, bolting on flares and dropping the chassis to the ground.
Do we like it? Yes we do. Are we tired of it all? Not really. Would we do it to our own cars? Well that’s another question altogether…
Dino Dalle Carbonare