Boob jobs, butt lifts, and botox. Plastic surgery is a thirteen-billion-dollar-industry in America that continues to gain popularity. Body tuning, the automotive equivalent to plastic surgery, is also gaining interest in the import performance community. From mild lip kits to wild widebodies, body tuning changes the entire look of a vehicle. Recently, aggressive aero kits incorporating huge fender flares have become the newest trend. This bolted-on fender phenomenon, known as “Rough Style”, originates from Japanese tuning shops emulating aerodynamics 70’s Japanese racecars. Most of these shops that specialize in “Rough Style” aero kits focus only on rear-wheel-drive Japanese vehicles. However, Liberty Walk LB-Performance is bringing this “Rough Style” to some European platforms.
Text by Jun Chen // Photos by Michael Ferrara
Walkin’ The Walk
Wataru Kato, the owner of Liberty Walk LB-Performance, started his shop in Japan. Originally focused on Lamborghini tuning, Kato later decided to add BMW to his tuning umbrella. He chose the E92 M3 as LWLBP’s first BMW platform. To help design the E92 M3 aero kit, Kato enlisted the help of Kei Miura. As the head designer of TRA-Kyoto, Miura’s past work includes the BenSopra GT-R and Rocket Bunny FR-S kits. Miura-san’s design philosophy strikes a balance between the aggressiveness of a “Rough Style” kit and the subtle lines of modern vehicles. Miura helped realize Kato’s vision for the E92 M3 by designing an aero kit consisting of bolted-on overfenders, a front splitter, rear spats and a decklid spoiler. The LWLBP E92 M3 aero kit, with its “Rough Style” aesthetic, looked nothing like anything else available for the M3. When images of the kit surfaced on the Internet, they spread virally across the globe.
With the international attention that LWLBP began to garner, Kato decided to stage an American debut for his E92 M3 aero kit. Initially, Kato needed to find a body shop that could provide high quality bodywork. To this end, Kato entrusted LT Motorwerks in El Monte, California. LT Motorwerks, an auto body shop specializing in E9x-chassis modifications and repair, proved a capable shop for the LWLBP E92 M3 builds. Now that Kato had the shop chosen, he needed to source some vehicles. Kato realized that it was cheaper for him to purchase an M3 in the States rather than import his own from Japan, so he purchased a 2008 M3 Coupe. Soon after, Kato felt that one M3 wasn’t enough. He wanted a strong presence in the U.S. for LWLBP; a presence as bold as Miura’s design. Thus, Kato turned to long-time LT Motorwerks-customer and E92 M3 owner Bernardo Peña for his help with the North American debut.