Now that Nissan is preparing to retire the R35 GT-R, Japanese body kit specialist Liberty Walk has found a way to keep Godzilla under the spotlights: enter the world’s first four-rotor R35. We first discussed the build in December 2021, with company founder Wataru Kato even throwing a party, and the shrieking machine is now back for its shakedown ahead of this weekend’s Formula Drift Japan debut.
Whether we’re talking about Formula Drift Japan or the U.S. iteration of the world’s highest-tier slip angle competition, this is an incubator for extreme engine swaps (e.g., America’s R35-powered 2023 Nissan Z).
And while American hostilities have recently kicked off, the first round of the Japanese series kicks off tomorrow at the Suzuka Racing Circuit, with Liberty Walk’s four-rotor R35 appearing as ready as possible.
From the first moment the Wankel motor wakes up to life, to the high-rpm notes the engine delivers while pushing the car, which has been converted to RWD, fully sideways, the soundtrack is nothing short of a delight. After all, while there’s no transparent hood to let us check out the pistonless GT-R while the Nissan is doing sideways work, the aural side of the vehicle easily conveys the message.
The four-rotor engine works with a monstrous turbo and while the tech details of the build still haven’t been released, Formula Drift cars deliver up to 1,200 horsepower, so we should be talking about a four-digit output here.
Liberty Walk’s involvement in the local drifting scene means the Wankel power of the GT-R is a tradition—the party mentioned in the intro celebrated the team grabbing 3rd place in Formula Drift Japan 2021 and they used an S15 Nissan Silvia featuring a Mazda four-rotor hooned by Hibino Tetsuya.
Brap-brap aside, Liberty Walk’s Nissan GT-R struts the company’s LB-Silhouette WORKS GT 35GT-RR widebody kit, which can cost up to $75,000 when the carbon version is chosen.
And when you think that Formula Drift means putting those precious parts inches away from danger and often at triple-digit speeds, it all gets even more intense.
It’s all about the atmosphere in Formula Drift
Given that drifting is a discipline the rest of the world borrowed from Japan, this shakedown allows us to get a taste of what the sideways culture of the country is like these days.
The window is provided by the Liberty Walk video below. From Kato-sama (the man at the 1:13 timestamp), who is now 55, filming the GT-R from the outside with the enthusiast of a teenage car spotter, to him getting behind the wheel (8:55 point), there’s plenty of action.
Then, at the 11:55 point of the vid, we get to see a car meet where the Liberty Walk founder signs cars fitted with his kits. And yes, American machines are massive in the Land of the Rising Sun, with the Shakotan-style Dodge Challenger at the 14:54 timestamp being an example as good as any.