FER­RARI F430

What trans­forms a su­per­car into a bona fide dream car? Just four amaz­ing mods (though don’t go think­ing they’ll come cheap!)

Fast Car - - Contents -

Last month’s Wild Card was a Lada. This month it’s a Fer­rari. It’s just how we roll.

et me take you back a few months, to just be­fore the Christ­mas turkey blowout and the bucket of vomit that seems to ac­com­pany ev­ery good New Year cel­e­bra­tion (you speak for your­self, Son – Ini­tial G). It was midNovem­ber and we – that’s Jules and my­self – were nearly two weeks into a rather epic Amer­i­can road­trip.

We’d al­ready seen the mod­i­fy­ing ex­trav­a­ganza that was the SEMA show in Las Ve­gas. We’d taken the Ex­trater­res­trial High­way north all the way to Utah, just to walk on the hal­lowed Bon­neville salt flats. Shoot­ing cars in LA and rac­ing up Cal­i­for­nia’s Pa­cific Coast High­way was a blast, but now we were in deep­est, dark­est LA County, look­ing for a leg­endary work­shop, a place that came highly rec­om­mended by more than a few of the peo­ple in the know. “You wanna pho­to­graph some RE­ALLY crazy cars, Buddy? Half of the rides from SEMA will still be at LTMW. Make sure you look them up be­fore you go!” So, that’s ex­actly what we were in­tent on do­ing.

LTMOTORWERKS is in the com­mer­cial cen­tre of El Monte, a city just east of LA. Think of the area as a kind of man­u­fac­tur­ing be­he­moth, a seem­ingly end­less suc­ces­sion of ware­houses and fac­to­ries, only bro­ken by the odd gro­cery store or gas sta­tion. It’s the sort of place you see in the movies, or more ac­cu­rately, movies fea­tur­ing many peo­ple get­ting shot. If you’re a slightly dodgy-look­ing English bloke, ac­com­pa­nied by a mid­dle-class fella and four grand’s worth of cam­era kit, it could even be de­scribed as a lit­tle un­nerv­ing. Let’s just say it’s more RoboCop than it is The Wolf of Wall Street.

Now, we’d been told we’d see some proper su­per­car in­san­ity and, even though I knew LTMW seemed to have a hand in more re­cent SEMA builds than Ford and Chevro­let put to­gether, I wasn’t con­vinced by the in­dus­trial sur­round­ings. That was right up un­til we pulled into the most in­sane carpark ei­ther of us have ever seen.

The space out­side LTMW’s work­shop is a petrol­head’s wet dream. Ev­ery­thing, and I do mean ev­ery­thing, you can think of is

rep­re­sented. I’m talk­ing E36 Beemers with Sky­line lumps (fea­ture com­ing soon), Boss-kit­ted S-Body Nis­sans (fea­ture also com­ing soon), big power Amer­i­can mus­cle cars and oo­dles and oo­dles of mod­i­fied ex­otics.

Its carpark is even more bonkers than that one in Trafal­gar Square that charges you 35 nicker for 10 min­utes. Mil­lions and mil­lions of pounds’ worth of metal just sit­ting there. And Long Tran, the man be­hind LTMW, had es­sen­tially given us the pick of the lot.

So of the 30 or 40 amaz­ing mo­tors, why choose Sam Chen’s project here? Well, it’s a bright red Fer­rari, the sun is shin­ing and we’re in Cal­i­for­nia, baby! Do you re­ally need any more rea­son?

Be­sides, for­get the hills of Mo­dena, the Amer­i­can West Coast is the nat­u­ral habi­tat of the fa­bled Pranc­ing Horse. Ap­par­ently, there’s more Fer­raris in Cal­i­for­nia than any­where else on the planet, all whip­ping around the more ex­clu­sive ar­eas like Bev­erly Hills and Mal­ibu Beach or tool­ing along the miles of pic­turesque coastal roads. All be­ing raced by Paul Walker fans in or­ange Supras.

There is of course one other im­por­tant an­gle to this car’s story. It’s ac­tu­ally the first Lib­erty Walk-kit­ted F430 built out­side of Ja­pan – even in the Far East there’s only a cou­ple in ex­is­tence. You can kind of un­der­stand that too. It’s one thing chop­ping up your pride and joy when it’s a tried-and-tested kit fit­ted to hun­dreds of mod­els on the street. But it’s an en­tirely dif­fer­ent prospect when your car hap­pens to be the high­est or­der of ex­ot­ica and the only com­pa­ra­ble mod­i­fied ver­sion is 5,000 miles across the Pa­cific.

Not that we’re say­ing Sam is to­tally crazy, you un­der­stand. We can only spec­u­late, be­cause we’ve never ac­tu­ally met the bloke. He wasn’t there on the day and I like to think he was far too busy, fran­ti­cally work­ing at his ex­port busi­ness to pay off the con­sid­er­able amount this lit­tle en­deav­our must have set him back. He’s ob­vi­ously a man with a vi­sion though. And he’s will­ing to let his vi­sion do the talk­ing. If there’s one defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of a car like this, it’s that it can eas­ily take cen­tre-stage alone. I mean, just look at it!

I’d imag­ine it wasn’t what you’d call a cheap project ei­ther, espe­cially as ev­ery­thing had to be done in just three weeks to stand a chance of mak­ing the SEMA show. Sure, the base car comes in at, ahem, a bar­gain 90 grand nowa­days. But start adding on 20-odd thou­sand for a kit, three or four for an ex­haust and a set of wheels that might as well have been hand-carved out of gold-plated saf­fron, and he must’ve been star­ing down the bar­rel of quite a few ze­ros by the time this car hit Las Ve­gas.

Then there’s the air ride sys­tem. You don’t ex­actly buy a F430 kit off the shelf. In­stead this one had to be cus­tom en­gi­neered by the guys at Sadis­tic Iron Werks, us­ing the finest com­po­nents in the Air Lift Per­for­mance cat­a­logue. And don’t for­get all that body­work which has been fet­tled to ab­so­lute per­fec­tion by LTMW.

What’s even more amaz­ing is that, by the time the sus­pen­sion had been fab­ri­cated and fit­ted, they had only a mat­ter of days to fin­ish the job. Long and his team didn’t even have time to test-fit the kit while the car was away. In­stead they had to keep their fin­gers crossed, do all the paint­ing and get the fi­nal fit and fin­ish com­pleted in the last 20 hours be­fore SEMA. All this rather time sen­si­tive work was car­ried out un­der the watch­ful eye of Lib­erty Walk founder, Wataru Kato, who flew over spe­cially to help launch his cre­ation on Amer­i­can soil. Talk about liv­ing the dream, right?

But, to be fair, that’s about it – just four mods. It’s true that we’ve seen Fi­es­tas with far more on the spec list. But, as amaz­ing as plenty of ‘em are, there aren’t too many that have the same sort of grav­i­tas. Yes, these four tweaks may be far from sim­ple but, as for the ac­tual con­cept be­hind them, there’s no deny­ing that there re­ally

isn’t much to it. Oh ex­cept for the fact that it’s a fuck­ing Fer­rari! And you just can’t beat the world’s most fa­mous su­per­car brand for turn­ing a few heads on the show cir­cuit.

Be­sides, say­ing it’s a bit light on the spec is silly when you need such an un­holy amount of cash just to get the job done. There’s also the in­dis­putable fact that Sam’s wal­let must be only ri­valled in size by his cast-iron trouser pota­toes. Would you ever even con­sider cut­ting up your Fer­rari? I’ve never had a stan­dard car in my life, but I have to ad­mit, even if I was 100-per­cent cer­tain it’d turn out as awe­some as this one, I’d still have trouble un­puck­er­ing my back­side for long enough to switch on the an­gle grinder.

And that’s the whole point. This car is sim­ply about drop­ping jaws, just like any su­per­car should be. Is any real su­per­car meant to be prac­ti­cal, or cheap, or even re­motely sen­si­ble? Of course it isn’t. It’s meant to make your pants fizz like they’ve been smeared with Alka Seltzer laced with Coca-Cola and ni­tro­glyc­erin.

When you think about it, that’s all that Sam and the boys at LTMW have strived to achieve here – an ar­che­typal su­per­car that just hap­pens to be a lit­tle more su­per than most. It doesn’t take a mod­i­fied car ex­pert to see that they’ve ab­so­lutely nailed it!

Just boot-iful

Rarely has leather talked so di­rectly and des­per­ately to our back­sides

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