Bangkok, Thailand - Liberty Walk has made a big name for itself over the last decade, it’s humble origins and its relentless rise to take its place amongst the world’s biggest customisers is already the stuff of legend. In fact, it’s a decade now since Wataru Kato first rocked up at the SEMA Show and rattled the car tuning world. Since then Liberty Walk has made its impact felt across the globe – and now that impact well and truly includes Thailand.
Thailand certainly has a huge tuning tradition with an almost excusive focus on Japanese cars. JDM has been wholeheartedly embraced, drive on any street in Thailand and you will see something tuned, customised or bearing the decals of famous brands from the land of the rising sun. All shapes, all sizes, all forms, all genres, just about everything has been embraced and personalised by someone here. All the way from humble Kei cars to big trucks.
Thailand is certainly a wide-open door for new customisation trends and ideas. So, it’s pretty likely that when the loudest, the boldest, the craziest of the them all – Liberty Walk – rocks up here it’s going to get a whole lot of attention and a very warm welcome.
That’s been the case so far and Infinite Motorsport, the official the dealer for Liberty Walk here, is busy stamping its mark on Thailand’s automotive culture. Well maybe creating an ‘explosion’ is a better description.
But this is more than just a story about Liberty Walk, although that’s the glue that binds it all together. In Infinite Motorsport, a whole physically located ‘eco system’ exclusively devoted to car culture has grown up, everything has been beautifully designed and executed, it all slots together superbly and the result is it’s become a magnet for car enthusiasts.
It’s a story primarily about four people with a fired-up passion for cars and a sense of community and oneness with the local scene. They had big dreams and they went for them. A relatively short story so far in terms of timescale, but what they’ve achieved so far is something very special.
So, it’s best to rewind to the start of the story. “First there were two people and they discussed doing something as they had the same interest in cars and they wanted to do something with cars but don’t really know what to do so they discussed together a lot and then that grew into a group of three people,” explains current partner Nithiwat Thippayathat.
“This was five years ago and Liberty Walk had started to be more famous in the world from the SEMA Show and they saw the striking pictures from show on the internet,” he continues. “They think if they can be distributor for Liberty Walk would be great. So, they made contact and Liberty Walk replied back to say they are interested but also that many companies from Thailand have contacted them.”
The planets were however aligning as right at that point the Bangkok Auto Salon was about to hit the local scene and provide a new and exciting focal point for the tuning world. Nithiwat takes it up: “Liberty Walk were invited by the organisers’ to come, so the trio say ‘we can help’ and at that point I joined, so the group became four people.”
“Before Liberty Walk came to the Bangkok Auto Salon they sent us some pictures and souvenirs that they want to sell and they let us pick up the car from the container that they brought from Japan and we took the car up to the event,” Nithiwat continues.
“So, we take care of them, take them to restaurants, hang out together,” he adds. “We didn’t do business then, we treated them like our family so I think that’s maybe why they chose us.”
That early trust from Liberty Walk has since proved to be very well placed. These guys clearly love tuned cars, they have big dreams and high standards as well as being humble and down to earth. Pretty easy to see where they are coming from if you spend time with them.
But even so Liberty Walk was putting a lot of trust out there. “Other companies have shops, have garages, they already have the places to start the business, but four us, we’re just four people, no one has experience in the car business, we are very new,” Nithiwat admits. “A few of us are racing drivers but we’re not the man that knows about the car business, we don’t have any shop, any garage, don’t have any area or place to build a shop. But they trust in us, we don’t know why but they trust in us.”
Things moved fast. “After they go back to Japan one week later they tell us they will appoint us dealer for Liberty Walk in Thailand,” says Nithiwat.
The ball was rolling. But without a garage to work from, available resources were utilised. “We ordered a body kit for the GT-R and we start doing the business at Oat’s house and we assemble the kit at his house.”
Small beginnings, but in terms of the narrative, there’s no better way of starting off their own legend. In fact, it’s all remarkably similar to how Wataru Kato started out.
It’s time for a workshop! “After the first car is finished we try to find a place to make our shop,” recalls Nithiwat. “So, one of our partners is a friend of the owner of this land.” It came together – but an initial simple step. “At first we just have our shop and two containers that will be our office,” he adds.
Nithiwat admits that Liberty Walk simply isn’t going to explode here overnight, it’s a project that’s going to grow step by step. The biggest hurdle when you are fitting a lavish kit to highly expensive supercars is that bodywork has to be cut ruthlessly away. Owners have to get used to that idea, they need to see the clear benefits and built trust the technicians carrying out the work. “There needs to be understanding about cutting the car,” agrees Nithiwat. “That we can cut the car, it won’t destroy the car and so we continue to build up the business.”
The cars they created started to get around – and you couldn’t miss them. It’s a case of every one they build up becomes a mobile advertisement. A couple of years ago they turned up at the Bangsaen Grand Prix – Thailand’s biggest and most glamorous motor racing event – with a GT-R equipped with the Liberty Walk kit and bearing “Safety Car” decals. It promptly put the massed ranks of racecars in the shade!
The new workshop was just step one in what has continuously evolved into a thriving hub for car culture today. ‘Small acorns’ is the right expression here. So next up was a wrapping shop as they found customers preferred wrapping to paint.
“We start the car wrapping shop two about two and a half years after the workshop opened,” says Nithiwat. “Before that every car needs to go to the paint shop after the assembly of the body kit. At first, we wanted to do a paint shop but the area is residential and so not ideal. But we think we have another choice, that wrap is a good option as the body kit is clear, clean and to a very high quality. So as the body parts come in we install them and then wrap the car.”
The wrapping business added another physical presence to the site and they aimed not to be just another wrap shop, rather they wanted to offer customers the chance to create the finish they want from scratch thanks to their sophisticated design abilities linking in to their ability to customise cars with Liberty Walk kits. The dots were joining up. “We have specialised in designing wraps, we have unique designs,” says Nithiwat. In fact, they have promoted this skill set in the best way possible with truly eye-catching themed wraps for their own cars – but more of that later.
Still, it’s a step by step growth curve and Nithiwat admits, “We have to get over perception that we are very expensive that we work just with supercars.” However, they have made quality and workmanship core to the experience so no customer will ever be dissatisfied with the finished product.
That demand for quality meant they chose AirREX for the air suspension with its world leading reputation for quality, but it’s certainly higher priced than local systems. “If you compare to Thai air suspension, AirREX is more expensive but the performance is the best and we are all racing drivers so performance is most important for us,” he explains.
With the workshop and wrap shop now completed, the next step in the jigsaw would be a café. So why? “When we go to Bangkok Auto Salon we have many customers coming, we get together and we can sell a lot of merchandise,” says Nithiwat. “We think we need to have someplace here that everyone can come together.
“So, we think about a motorsport café as we love motorsport, we love to go to the track, we love to watch motorsport,” he continues. “In Thailand there are sports bars or cafes but no motorsport bars, so we want to do a cafe for everyone who loves motorsport that can show when Thai drivers go to race in Europe or show F1 and MotoGP. At the same time, we decide on a car care centre so we have a full service as we can then clean the car here at the end of the fitting process without sending it out.”
The car culture ‘eco system’ is complete! The café, dubbed ‘Pit 8 Motorsport Café’ has been an instant hit. It’s lavishly decorated with motorsport memorabilia and Liberty Walk merchandise and it’s immediately become a go to place for car enthusiasts on a Sunday afternoon to watch racing unfold. “Many people come to the cafe and it means they can get in touch with Liberty Walk easier,” says Nithiwat.
“Now we have many new friends and many people come to the cafe and come back,” he continues. “There’s a good atmosphere and cars clubs come as it’s a nice location for taking photos.”
Indeed, an awful lot of work has clearly gone into the design. Aside from the café, on the second floor there is an outdoor style movie theatre with rising rows of seats to allow big groups of people to watch a large screen and create an atmosphere that can channel all the excitement. Next to that mini ‘amphitheatre’ is a beautiful Nissan Skyline R32 racing replica in period ‘Calsonic’ livery encased in a glass box.
The finished project is impressive, beautifully designed and featuring clean, stylish architecture right down to the small details, it has been executed without making many compromises. There is simply nothing else like it in Bangkok. It’s a hub for those who buy into car culture and it provides the perfect platform for Infinite Motorsport to grow its offerings into the future.
But the primary driver is the widebody kit business, so how does a prospective Liberty Walk project unfold? “You come to discuss with us, what is your dream, what you want to achieve,” says Nithiwat. “We want you to enjoy every moment, we want this to be a different experience. We will show you the parts, what colours, what style of wheels you want, there are many things that can be applied to the project.
“The Liberty Walk kit takes about one month from order to manufacture and then one month to ship,” he continues. “At the same time, we order the air suspension and the wheels and tyres so it’s all ready. Installation will take about 5 days and then we paint or wrap. Painting takes one month, the wrap ten days for the design, printing and wrapping. So, the total time is two and a half to three months.”
We need to mention the liveries. The finish of the cars being turned out has been almost as striking as the kits themselves. The two strands have blended together and the kit plus wrap has turned into something of a double PR win. That’s because a core of the cars produced have been wrapped to represent famous historical motor racing liveries.
“It was Oat’s idea for the motorsport wrap,” Nithiwat explains. “Last year at the Auto Salon we wanted every car to be in a theme and we think how to make every car the same but still with their own identities. So, we think about racing liveries from 80s and 90s, everyone knows the liveries, they’re legends, they’re the old racing style.” It certainly worked, the cars have become individual icons on the Bangkok car scene, personalised to a point where there is nothing else like them in the world – and that’s really what this business is all about. Mission accomplished at Infinite Motorsport.
They’re come a long way in less than half a decade. Infinite Motorsport is now a car culture hub like no other here, the visuals of this custom and tuning ‘laboratory’ are already recognisable to just about every committed ‘car guy’ here. It’s a lot of work to have achieved in just a few years and they’ve just added in a car storage facility which makes it five interlocking business all woven into one site.
Clearly, they aren’t going to sit on their laurels – so what does the future hold? “For car trends it’s like fashion it changes, everything comes and goes so we don’t know how long wide body kit will be in fashion so we will work to try to have more products for the customer. But at the same time Liberty Walk is also developing every year, they bring out something new every year and now they have kits for GT cars, the styling is more different to the wide body kit, more aggressive.”
The total of Liberty Walk conversions carried out by Infinite Motorsport now stands at 34 cars, a very impressive number. It’s a real mix too meaning they have been successful at being all things to everyone.
Demonstrating that they have clearly won the confidence of owners is the fact that there are now two Aventadors on the streets here that have been converted. The Liberty Walk kit utterly transforms Lamborghini’s flagship V12 super car – no mean feat to achieve. And it’s no mean feat either that the owners have had the confidence in them to convert their cars. One in fact belongs to a leading Thai racing driver and former Super Car champion, Chonsawat Asavahame, who crosses over from top level motorsport into the world of celebrity where he holds undisputed A-list status.
Other big and brutal cars to have had undergone the treatment include a Dodge Challenger, three Ford Mustangs, two Nissan GT-Rs (with another pair on the waiting list), a trio of Audi R8s and a pair of Porsche 997s. Not to forget the Mercedes and BMW Z4.
Meanwhile, at the smaller end of the automotive food chain, they have kitted out cars such as the Mini Cooper, Daihatsu Copen and Honda S600. It’s a real melting pot of styles and the very latest to be finished is a rather whacky Suzuki Jimny.
This is the realised dream of four young men who have octane running through their veins. So, for this story to conclude it was a perfect fit to get the four of them together with their cars and see what makes them tick, why they chose their cars and why Liberty Walk was the way to go. Certainly, if you are considering this type of high-profile project, if you are going to let someone cut away at your Aventador, you want to know how the company’s owners tick, how they have bought into what they are promoting.
Natchapol Jatursrivilai (“New”)
“I start of my car life with Nissan sport cars, first with the 350Z when I was in college and I fell in love with it at first sight.
“My first connection with cars really came from my friends and they’ve always been in love with the 90s classics like the RX-7, the Skylines and all that. So a friend of mine just happened to sell one of his cars to me when I was young and the connection transcended from time to time so when I came back to Thailand I upgraded from 350 to 370Z and I start to modify cars a lot and I find new friends and opportunities.
“That’s where I found my current shareholders and we just happened to have the same vision about cars and modifications so we start off the business and that’s when I sold my 370Z and traded off with the GT-R. I knew from the start it’s got to be the GT-R as I’m sure this model was going to be a big hit in Thailand same as for everyone, not just in Thailand, I think everyone likes the GT-R and so do I.
“I feel like the GT-R with the Liberty Walk kit is just one of the most beautiful kits on offer and since then I have been working on it a lot, a lot of transformation, I’ve swapped the engine out three or four times.
“The first time I have the stock engine, then I upgrade it to the 800-horsepower kit from HKS and it was a used engine and the clearance and everything wasn’t perfect so after time I swap it out for a brand new ETS system so I combined that with a new HKS turbo kit and it makes almost exactly a 1000 horsepower. From then on, I just couldn’t find another substitute that could satisfy me on the same level as the GT-R.
“The Datsun KPGC10 I happen to have owned for a couple of years now. I found this car from a friend of a friend and I was lucky enough to be able to buy one as there are very few in Thailand that I know of.
“I feel like I need to learn the history of where my obsession is coming from and there is no other model better than the original GT-R. There have been the other Skylines but the first to ever be called a GT-R is the C10 model and I feel like could learn a lot from the cars in the past when I wasn’t even born yet, and I can see in the Skylines, the body shape and the soul have been carried on from the past and I feel like owning both the newest and oldest version of the GT-R is like the ultimate combination for me.”
Punyawi Suphan (“Oak”)
“When I went to Japan in 2016 my friend brought me to the Tokyo Auto Salon and I saw the Mercedes C63 model with the Liberty Walk kit and I just imagined if I can get one in Thailand then this would be a perfect and really beautiful car.
“We see and connect Liberty Walk with supercars but with this model it’s different, it means normal people with a passion for cars can still get Liberty Walk, this style is not only for rich people. So, I ask a friend to buy second hand version of the C-Coupe to fit Liberty Walk.
“I think Liberty Walk can show our uniqueness or our characteristics, to people and to society that we what to do is something different, to differentiate from everyone else.
“The body kit is very suitable. Wataru Kato designs very well for Mercedes, for every model. I think Mercedes is really nice to do with Liberty Walk. The car has been kept with the standard engine, a 1,600 turbo.”
Waruth Seehanath (“Oat”)
“I’m explaining the grey GT-R in the line-up today for the owner who isn’t here. The owner of this GT-R had a Toyota Supra first but after that he wanted to find a new car and after a while he decided to choose GT-R.
“He also chose the GT-R as he has a plan for a wide body kit for the new car. He looked at the kits available, like Rocket Bunny, but he really wanted something new and something that would be special so he looked at Liberty Walk and chose to fit this and to air suspension.”
Nithiwat Thippayathat (“Ngao”)
“I bought the BMW Z4 because at the time I needed a car to build with the Liberty walk body kit and I wanted to also choose a convertible model. At the time Liberty Walk was only available for the Z4 apart from supercars like the Porsche 997 and I didn’t have enough money to buy a 997, so this was the easiest car to reach to convert to Liberty Walk.
“I also love BMW cars; my first car was an E36 and I’ve also owned a 1-Series, the F20.
“So, choose the Z4 to do Liberty Walk as the body kit is the cheapest one from Liberty Walk and I want Thai people to know that Liberty Walk is not only just for supercars, it’s for more normal cars as well, everyone can touch and buy it.”