If you can’t buy a GT-R, buy a Copen and let Liberty Walk work its magic

In the world of Japanese kei cars, the Daihatsu Copen often gets lost in the shuffle, overshadowed by models like the Honda Beat, Suzuki Cappuccino, and yes, even the Autozam AZ-1.

The adorable two-door convertible can hold its own in kei races, and, more importantly, its highly customizable nature allows owners to go stir crazy on custom projects. There are a myriad of ways that you can customize the Copen, including, in this case, turning to Japanese tuner extraordinaire Liberty Walk with a specific requirement: turn it into a Nissan R35 GT-R.

What’s the Daihatsu Copen?

2020 Daihatsu Copen R35 GT-R by Liberty Walk Exterior
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The Daihatsu Copen is a two-door Japanese kei car that burst into the Japanese car market scene in 2002. It’s now in its second generation, and, not surprisingly, the Copen has enjoyed a successful run, in part due to its sports-car-like looks and peppy-for-its-class performance. No one’s going to mistake the Copen as a legitimate performance car thanks to the 660-cc three-cylinder engine that produces 63 horsepower. .

Owing to its kei car roots, the Daihatsu Copen isn’t available in the U.S. market. Over in Japan, though, the tiny kei car sells for around $15,000 to $18,000.

What kind of tuning opportunities are available to the Daihatsu Copen?

2020 Daihatsu Copen R35 GT-R by Liberty Walk Exterior
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A little perspective might be in order here. First of all, there’s not much you or anyone can do with regards to tuning the Copen’s 660cc three-cylinder engine. Over in Japan, kei cars are subject to strict rules and taxation regarding the size of their engines and the emissions these engines produce. So if you’re looking to add a turbocharged four-cylinder engine into your Copen, you’ll not only have a hard time fitting that engine into the car, but you also run the risk of violating Japan’s laws regarding kei cars.

In other words, stay away from any engine upgrades when it comes to kei cars like the Copen.

But as far as other modifications are concerned, you can go as nuts as you want. You can even ask Liberty Walk to turn your Copen into a Nissan GT-R.

What kind of conversion does Liberty Walk offer for the Daihatsu Copen?

2020 Daihatsu Copen R35 GT-R by Liberty Walk Exterior
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This is probably the most fun tuning kit we’ve seen in a while. The front section of the Copen is a near carbon copy of the 2020 Nissan GT-R. Other than the headlights, everything is almost identical.

Liberty Walk even added Nissan’s signature V-motion front grille to go with the vented hood and the intake setup, complete with those strips of LEDs. The riveted fender flares and the GT-R-esque rear bumper are all clear callbacks to Godzilla.

The only addition that you can call unique is the massive rear wing at the back of the Copen.

Then again, the GT-R boasts the same setup so you might as well call that another form of imitation on Liberty Walk’s part.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it?

2020 Daihatsu Copen R35 GT-R by Liberty Walk Exterior
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In this instance, the answer is a resounding “yes!” Nothing about this conversion suggests that Liberty Walk was going for a look that isn’t taken directly from the Nissan GT-R. It’s as if the tuner — or maybe it was the owner — wanted the Copen to pay homage to the GT-R .

It’s a shame that the conversion ends in the exterior. It would’ve been sick if the tuner managed to find a way to drop the GT-R’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 into the Copen’s engine bay. Then again, such work requires serious physical changes to the kei car, not to mention all the laws and regulations that Liberty Walk stands to violate if it actually pulled off that conversion.

How much does the conversion cost?

2020 Daihatsu Copen R35 GT-R by Liberty Walk Exterior
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Probably the best part about this conversion is that all of it costs only around $4,000, and that’s after taxes. That’s a cheap price to pay for the results that you’re getting. Mind you, that price is just for the Copen-to-Godzilla conversion kit. The cost of the kei car — around $15,000 to $18,000 — isn’t included in that total. All told, you’re looking at a cost of around $19,000 to $22,000 for this whole bit. It’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to roll around Tokyo or Osaka in a faux Nissan GT-R.

Final Thoughts

2020 Daihatsu Copen R35 GT-R by Liberty Walk Exterior
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I’m geeked about this conversion, but I’m also sad about it. I can’t get enough on how incredible the Copen looks in the GT-R costume. It’s awesome in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, the downside to this project is availability. The Copen isn’t available in the U.S. so you’re going to have to a lot of backflips to get one stateside.

  • Leave it
    • Performance is far from GT-R-like
    • Availability is a question mark
    • Definitely not for everyone

Source: Liberty Walk

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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