Magnus Walker - From within the warehouse
Having just arrived in LA for a holiday I was wandering around Venice beach nursing a severe case of jet lag. I wondered amongst stalls filled with tacky LA souveniers, dodging the tramps and hobos that populate the area. But amongst the airbrush paintings of VW splitties and fridge magnet surfboards was model 911 made from a soda can... this got me thinking. I’m in LA, why not try and contact the Porsche sage of LA - Magnus Walker.
Magnus on the roof of his warehouse, he and his wife no longer live here as it's now used full time as a film location
I set about organising a Porsche 964 meet in LA and asked Magnus if he could make it. He was busy that day, but suggested he would be around on the sunday - just before my flight back to London. I’m not exactly a renowned journalist so I was pretty stoked when he agreed to set some time aside to meet me!
From a book on Porsche collectors & drivers. Magnus’ look is suitably unique in that company
Sunday arrived and I found myself in Downtown LA’s Arts district. This sprawling expanse of former warehouses has somewhat gentrified of late, but Magnus settled here 14 years ago, long before slumming it became cool. Next to the warehouse is a yard protected by a high wall and a huge rusty sliding gate that looked so right it was almost as if it had been cultivated for its patina. Determined to make a good first impression I strode purposefully along the front of the building looking for a way in. With no buzzers to be found I bumbled around in frustration till Magnus appeared from the gate, he must have been keeping an eye out on the CCTV. He is pretty much as we have come to expect from his videos - the trademark dreadlocks and rock ‘n’ roll wardrobe remain and despite several reports of him being down to earth, I was still pleasantly surprised by how genuine and approachable he is, I was also expecting that after close to 30 years in the US he would have a Californian drawl, but in fact his Yorkshire accent is still very much present, though somewhat softened. As I walked past the gate I was pleased to see a big hound trundling towards me with a wagging tail. I was introduced to 'Skynyrd', Magnus’ faithful friend.
In his office I was treated to some driving clips of canyon carving that have not made to the net, for understandable reasons. Suffice to say he is definitely rather tasty behind the wheel. Contrary to my expectations his primary source of income is not from Porsche related businesses, but from hiring out his loft as a film location. Having seen the fifteen52 Outlaw wheels I was fully expecting that this was his spearhead entry into the world of car tune up parts, but he strongly denied he was taking this path. He has been approached by several suppliers to bring out branded parts, such as the drilled door handles, but is simply not interested in the added hassle that this would bring.
One of the wheels in its production phase... Lots of people do reproduction Fuchs, but for him the goal was to do something really original
Similarly he has been approached to build cars for people, but does not want to ruin his hobby by bringing in deadlines or having to “dance to somebody else’s’ tune”. He does occasionally sell his own cars, to make space as much as anything, but that is not really the way he funds the hobby or his living. He bought most of his cars before the prices for 911s skyrocketed and for his project cars he usually looks for something already set up for track work. This saves him the money for that part of the transformation. He is not totally oblivious to commerce of course, as long as it doesn't unduly impinge on his hobby. He mentioned he has been involved with the popular 'Need for Speed' computer game franchise, but would not be drawn on whether that meant one of his cars would feature. He is also talking to 'Hot Wheels' about a possible Outlaw 911 model.
A treasure trove of parts, he never throws anything away - a Porsche parts hoarder in the truest sense
As he led me round the warehouse we came to a shelf of engine parts and he pointed out a 67 S case that was due to be shipped for a rebuild in Germany. It turns out this is for his latest build, a follow up to the famous STR, a short wheel base 67 S - the first year that model of 911 was produced.
With his latest project, a narrow body 67S
Amongst a sea of wide body conversions he has chosen to keep this a narrow body, with the uniquely louvered front fenders. The engine will be a short stroke 2.5 twin plug with around 240 HP which is being shipped to Hamburg to a friend of his for assembly – they are planning a stop frame animation video of the build. One thing I always wondered is how hands on he actually is with these builds, a fair amount it turns out. He does all the stripping down, prep, rebuilding, but paint and engine work is farmed out.
What about Magnus’ views on 964s? Thomas Shmitz the famous German rare Porsche dealer let him drive his Rubystone Red RS at the Nurburgring and since then Magnus created his own car, as he himself said the 964 is the last body shape that truly resembles the original 911 from 1964. Every 911 after that is a different shape and his aim is to have one car from each body style. He is currently up to the 964 generation so a 993 would be next. What most people may not realise is that roughly half of his collection is made up of stock cars, the turbos for example are all original number matching cars. Magnus was really interested in our activities back in Blighty and was impressed by the pictures from our latest meeting. I extended an open invitation to join any of our events and left with a t-shirt and a handful of Outlaw stickers for the L9O gang, I’ll bring them to the next meet!
This particular 75 is one of only 15 right hand drive cars built. You have to wonder how many are left today.
Another from his collection, standard apart from the outlaw wheels.
The front row are his 'streetable' track inspired cars, one day a 964 will join.
Words & Pictures: Jack Pegoraro - March 2015
Magnus Online: www.magnuswalker911.blogspot.co.uk