The Urban Outlaw
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
As Written for Autostrada
When you do not believe in boundaries and see rules are simply a guideline, anything is possible. Passion has been prevalent in automotive culture since their first arrival. Humans are natural collectors and we all crave a personalized touch. From our fashion preferences to our morning coffee, customization is everything. Fine tuning a machine and sculpting each panel to make it your own version of visual perfection is what car enthusiasts dream of. There is no right or wrong in design, no need to do something to impress others as opinions are simply based on an individual’s cumulated experiences. Understanding that vehicles are more than a machine is the key to this; they have a living soul which transpires down to the smallest bolt. Each car will tell you a story, and one of the best curators of these vehicles’ stories is Magnus Walker, the Urban Outlaw.
Speaking with Magnus on the phone I can audibly feel his passion and connection to automotive, specifically Porsche. Every aspect of his projects described in such detail and clarity, it’s as If I am sitting in the room with him. His knowledge does not contain the vague dryness of someone who has attended an automotive academic program, but someone who had spent thousands upon thousands of hours obsessing over an idea. This idea being to carve his style and personality into his cars. The incredible small details that are put into his vehicles would make any Porsche enthusiast's jaw drop, but for me it is the soul and emotion that Magnus is able to pull from a vehicle. He gives the car a voice to tell its story.
Hailing from Sheffield, England, Magnus was first introduced to the world to the world of Porsche at the early age of 10. He spotted the 911 with a riveting blue martini livery and was forever hooked. At this time, he wrote a letter to Porsche asking if he could design vehicles for them and they wrote back with some a letter telling him to get a few years of experience under his belt and sent him some merchandise. A few decades later, however, he would receive another letter from Porsche with a more serious opportunistic tone. In 1986, soaked in a fresh dosage of heavy metal influence from Def Leopard, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osborne; Magnus Walker made the move to America. Landing in Detroit working as an instructor at a summer camp, Magnus was driven in search of opportunity. Shortly after, when he saw that the most opportunity existed in Los Angeles, he made the jump from summer camp to California.
Los Angeles was where Walker began to carve his name - starting with the fashion world. A small one man operation consisting of buying new or preowned clothes and redesigning them, quickly blossomed into an incredible company. Known as Serious Clothing, the company found itself on the backs of individuals such as Motley Crue, Bruce Willis, Madonna and Alice Cooper. Magnus was attending concerts doing costumes and designing outfits for the world’s biggest stars. His influence on fashion is all drawn from the mind of Magnus himself. He simply does what he feels he is going to like, which has generated a massive cultural impact with trend setting quality. When you speak to Magnus about this it feels extremely pure. He is simply creating what he likes and does not look to others for approval or validation. What motivates Magnus is simply doing things he likes to do. From the fashion industry magnus happened to stumble upon another opportunity in the film industry. He began acquiring locations of which movie producers would come film their movies at. This was yet another opportunity for creative expression for Magnus and overall, he was extremely successful in curating many iconic film sets.
The Cars. With the success in the fashion industry and film location business, Walker was able to build a car collection to feed his automotive addiction. Porsche was not always the focus with cars such as a Ferrari 308 GTB, Mustangs 65 GT350r replica, 1969 Superbee, Lotus Europa and 67 E-type Jag filling the garage. He purchased his first 911 (1974 Slant-nose conversion) in 92’ and simply caught the Porsche bug. The new millennium saw a transition in his collection. He set the goal to collect all 911 models from their release date of 1964 up to 73. Porsche is the perfect balance of everyday practicality and performance oriented sports car for Magnus, and personally I could not agree more. Magnus has a fascination with late 60s early 70s Porsche models of which a chunk of his inspiration is drawn for his sports purpose, “streetable" track car builds. Vehicle design and graphics from the Monti Carlo rally and Le Man, from when Porsche struck their first major motorsport success also lends inspiration. Elements of his fashion career with retro plaid patterns, leather and a raw urban vibe flood his cars interiors. Americana culture is visually found throughout his collection with Captain America and Evil Knievel influencing some builds. None of Magnus’s cars are vinyl wrapped, but rather painted showing commitment to his design. Finally, a draw to a hot rod culture and customization is what gives the cars their final touch. All off these items are thrown in a blender and the finished product becomes an iconic masterpiece which can drive just as well as it looks. Porsche.
A Magnus Walker Porsche is exceedingly different in the most original manner. The Porsche DNA remains intact; however, the minor details are exceptionally magnified. While the rawness of the Porsche DNA is magnified, the character of the car is freed to its full potential. You can feel the car has a soul. No two cars produce the same emotion however, and each of Walker’s cars vibrate with personality. Details such as handcrafted leather door pull straps are found on the interior, which has routes in his fashion career. Each strap is rolled and worked until the texture is perfectly broken in. This is what creates the soul of the vehicle: The time and devotion to get each small detail exactly as it should be for the best driving experience. Details on a Magnus Walker Porsche also include drilled door handles, and drilled front bumper covers for cooling. Not noticeable with a quick glance but it is this combination of Porsche DNA and hot rod modification which make his cars unique. A small touch but extremely distinctive is the integrated turn signals which sees the deletion of the OEM lighting and molding the signal directly into the Porsche body. Finally, the majority of Magnus’s cars have a louver deck lid, a trend commonly seen in architecture which allows additional engine cooling through horizontal slots but does not let water seep in due to its design. These modifications are subtle enough not to change the Porsche DNA, however creates a highly unique hot rod style addition. Granted you can always go buy a leather strap, seat or steering wheel, but it is not the same. Cars are like a favourite pair of jeans which are broken in at the exact threshold you want. Sitting in a car of this spec you can feel the history and story the machine is telling you. The smell of leather and gasoline, the wear on the steering wheel, the shift knob worked in to perfectly fit your palm. Each scuff, scrape and fold telling a story of a driving memory. That memory being a drive through the Los Angeles Canyons, track days or simply a late night cruise with someone special. Magnus is a firm believer that these cars are meant to be driven and all the vehicles in his collection strongly reflect this principle.
Owning over 50 Porsche models, Walker’s passion is vibrant. Prior to discovering the Porsche Owners Club, he would get the most out of his 911’s in any location he could in his backyard race ground. The urban jungle of Los Angeles provided a magnitude of spaces in the art district. Prior to construction, Magnus would use the 6th Street Bridge as a 0-100 testing ground. The Canyons of Los Angeles specifically the Angeles Crest Highway provide a testing facility that any driving enthusiast would envy. Switch back corners combine with open sight lines allow a driver to feel the suspension work. With an older 911 you really must work the car to get the most out of the driving experience. Combine this with low horsepower, the driving experience must be momentum based to be fast. You need to roll the car hard through the corners while dancing on the brake and throttle to balance the car and keep the rev’s up. The car moves and shuffles around on you, motions are magnified as the car rolls through a corner. Using the full threshold of the car with no driving assist is what makes carving a canyon road such an incredible experience in a vintage 911.
One of Magnus’s most iconic 911 builds was his 1971 911 T which was the second 911 he bought. Known better as “277” this is the car which was used as a track car for the Porsche owners club and has the most spirited miles on it. The car has been subjected to multiple engine swaps, has the signature louver deck light and is fully track ready. The car is full of character; with tire rubber build up on the white paint behind the wheel, scuffs and a perfectly worn race seat. You can tell that this car has a story and soul which continues to build with each mile it drives.
Magnus has a current goal to own one of every sports car Porsche has ever made. That being mid engine, front engine and rear engine. With the earlier collection focus for Magnus being the air-cooled 911 generations, seeing him expand into the Cayman and modern 911 variants sparks excitement for those who follow his work. Currently he has been driving a 996 GT3 more frequently which for those who don’t know, is the first of the water-cooled Porsche models. Magnus’ desire to create is ultimately what makes his passion come to life. His Porsche builds are true interpretations of his own aesthetic style while maintaining the traditional Porsche DNA. Magnus’ journey and life experience give him a certain perspective and attitude which is truly passionate and infectiously inspirational. Just from speaking with him, you can feel it. This is because you can tell he is truly enjoying his life journey and is living each second to the fullest. Most recently, Magnus released a book called “Dirt Don’t Slow You Down” which, after reading it, gives insight into his passion for all things Porsche and the evolution of his career. Magnus is a true example of someone who has survived a sink or swim lifestyle. He has evolved in his career so fluently that he has developed an unstoppable momentum showing that anything is possible. With his new collection target in mind, Magnus will surely be releasing some exciting projects in the future with his “out of control hobby”.