What transforms a supercar into a bona fide dream car? Just four amazing mods (though don’t go thinking they’ll come cheap!)
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!
Rarely has leather talked so directly and desperately to our backsides