Over the past few years Magnus Walker has become a fixture of the Porsche scene. He’s a friend of the tribe, an inspiration to millions and another example of how Porsche can mean many things to many people.
His story is one that strikes a chord the world over. Magnus was born in Sheffield, an industrial city in the north of England, in 1967. His childhood witnessed a period of severe economic decline in the region, creating a disillusioned working-class generation that saw precious little opportunity on offer.
In 1977, Magnus was taken by his father to the Earl’s Court Motor Show, the British equivalent to Geneva, Frankfurt or Detroit. Here, the impressionable youngster laid eyes on a 911 Turbo for the first time. It was love at first sight. The immaculate 930, with its characteristic whale-tail spoiler and wide rear track, was finished in Alpine White with distinctive Martini stripes that celebrated Porsche’s contemporary union with its legendary racing sponsor.
The wide-eyed ten-year-old kept coming back to the Porsche, pouring over its every detail, burning it into his memory. “I found myself entirely hooked, right away. The big rear spoiler... that Porsche looked so fast, even though it wasn’t moving. It was the car in so many of my dreams as a small child, and suddenly my dream had taken form.”
All other exotica at Earl’s Court faded into the background, and when he was finally torn away from the Porsche stand, Magnus took with him an enduring image, one that might drift in and out in the years that followed, but that would always return.
Magnus endured several turbulent years at school, his one passion throughout this period – and an indication of the strength of character that lay within the slight and unassuming teenager – was long distance running. He left school aged 15, uncertain about the future. There was little money to be made from his other great love, heavy metal music, so after a brief stint as a plasterer he turned his back on his home city for good.
Though Magnus had no specific plan, he did have a destination in mind: America. At the age of 19 he set sail, taking up a place at a summer camp, a moment he now describes as his ‘first taste of freedom’. But this wholesome environment soon gave way to the rather grittier and more apposite world of music, and Walker toured with the likes of Alice Cooper, living life to the full in the famously wild environs of a booming US guitar scene.
These rock star connections and a determination born out of growing up in a tough working town encouraged Magnus to start up his own business, creating the highly bespoke and distressed clothing that is an Outlaw trademark to this day. The label soon took off and would turn his fortunes around, ultimately allowing Magnus to reignite his love for Porsche and that all-important 930 Turbo.
Today Magnus has returned to his hometown a very different creature from the callow youth that left all those years ago. “This city almost destroyed me,” he remarks calmly as he gazes across the rooftops from a vantage point high in the outlying hills. “But it also made me strong. If it weren’t for Sheffield, I would have probably sunk without trace when I came to America.”
Walker grew his business steadily, and when the moment was right he took the plunge and bought his first Porsche: a 911 in Indian Red. In the early years his cars were comparative wrecks, requiring considerable work just to keep them running and roadworthy. But this struggle played neatly into Magnus’ make-do mindset, creating the now famous ‘get out and drive’ philosophy that puts miles covered before originality or condition.
Today Magnus’ garage is an Aladdin’s Cave of the hot-rodded, resto-modded and highly original, including more than one 930. There are now more than 50 cars holed up in the sprawling downtown warehouse that acts as both workshop, studio and home in the heart of L.A. But this embarrassment of Porsche riches does not detract from Magnus’ evident emotion at being reunited with the car that started it all for him.
He traces a finger along the full-length Martini decals, around the broad Turbo hips and across the enormous spoiler. The evident athleticism and potency of the car, even at rest, takes him straight back to that unforgettable day, some 41 years ago now.
“To me the greatest thing about driving a Porsche is freedom. It covers all the sense. In a way, it’s a sense of chaos and a sense of calmness, all at the same time. As a kid growing up in Sheffield, Porsches were a rare sight on the road. I hardly ever saw them. Believe it or not I actually wrote a letter to Porsche and asked them if I could be a designer for them. Surprisingly, they wrote a letter back that said ‘Call us when you’re older’.”
Although he never made that call, and despite being a fairly unlikely candidate for the corporate life in Zuffenhausen, in his own unique way Magnus has already achieved that lofty childhood goal. He took what Porsche meant to him and just ran with it.