Choosing the right GT-R on Liberty Walk

“Can we bring a car while I’m here?” I have asked. “Sure, which one?” Liberty Walk staff responded with. “What about the GT-R?”

“We currently do not have a GT-R in stock. Do you mean the silhouette racer? came the answer. ‘No, that GT-R with the Marlboro livery,’ I said grinning, pointing to the back corner of the forecourt. Stunned, the Liberty Walk staff called the car’s owner to ask permission to shoot it, laughing with me… or at me. I wasn’t sure which one, but it didn’t matter.

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Sure, we could have taken all the LBW-enhanced Lamborghinis or Ferraris onto the streets of Nagoya, but we saw them all. But a miniature ‘GT-R’ with an iconic motorsport livery? That is unique.

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Since this was my first time visiting Liberty Walk on their home turf, what better way to have an unforgettable trip?

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Nagoya is a strange little city, not as noisy as Osaka, not as beautiful as Kyoto, and not nearly as vast as Tokyo. When I was in the city I stayed in an area called Sakae, pretty much in the center of everything. The first thing I noticed were all these weird street sculptures – I couldn’t even walk a few meters without finding something interesting to stare at. About an hour’s drive from the funky streets of Sakae is the headquarters of Liberty Walk, which also has plenty to admire.

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As I walked around the forecourt, it was strange to see cars from the Tokyo Auto Salon and those of all the car influencers Instagram feed that just sits there like a used car dealer.

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Now I pose this to you: if you were to see two GT-Rs on the forecourt, one a genuine Nissan supercar and the other a Liberty Walk-equipped, scaled-down GT-R replica built from a Daihatsu Copen, which one would you choose?

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Let’s start with the obvious. The sales sticker on each car will vary significantly. I know my bank balance is the Whereclass Copenhagen.

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But apart from the purchase (and maintenance) costs, buying a bigger car isn’t necessarily better. Put a prototype race car next to an R35 GT-R and you’ll laugh. Then there’s the single-seat McMurtry track car, which is the size of a bar of soap and still manages to pull 3G around the corner. Small can indeed be mighty.

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Smaller cars can accelerate faster, corner faster and have a higher top speed thanks to less frictional resistance from the tires. They use less fuel and rubber and take up less space in the garage.

This begs the question: why is the real GT-R so bloated? And why do most passenger cars – performance or otherwise – only get bigger with each iteration?

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The only disadvantage of this mini GT-R is the interior space. It’s pretty tight in there. It’s pretty tight in any lightweight two-seater, though, so if you want high performance with room for more than a KitKat and a water bottle, you’ll need to increase those dimensions a bit. That means room for larger seats, a center console and door cards with storage space.

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Then there is the small safety aspect. With more and more two-ton SUVs rolling through the streets, a larger car will always fare better in a side impact than a smaller one. Given the choice, I’d rather crash a Nissan GT-R than a convertible Daihatsu in GT-R clothing.

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Finally, there’s always that element of prestige and peacocking when it comes to high-performance vehicles. The perceived value of a monster like the Nissan GT-R is considerably more impressive than a small Daihatsu Copen.

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Okay, so the difference in power and price isn’t a match, but I can feel it pleasure that can be drawn from these two very different cars is quite similar.

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Did I choose the right GT-R on the forecourt of Liberty Walk? I’ll let you be the judge.

Toby Thayer
Instagram _tobinsta_
tobythyer.co.uk

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