Magnus Walker is a Porsche collector, living in Downtown Los Angeles. He became well-known all around the world through the series of films under the title Urban Outlaw: The Movie & London. We met him to talk about religion, nature, classic cars and possibility of shooting an Urban Outlaw film in Moscow.
Magnus, do you remember your first car?
Yes, it was a 1977 Toyota Corolla 2TC. I bought it in 1988 for $200. The second car was SAAB 900 Turbo SPG. The third one was my first Porsche that I bought it in 1992. It was a 1972 911 Slant Nose conversion and I paid $750 for it. I remember the first three cars, and I’ve owned a lot of them since then.
You moved to Los Angeles in 1986. Can you describe the city of the late ‘80s?
Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll! That’s how LA was in the end of the ‘80s. I’ve been in Heavy Metal music. Back then were glory days of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Motley Crue. I was young, teenager, just turned 20, maybe. Fun times! No worries! No pressure!
What about the car scene in the city of that period?
As everywhere, in the ‘80s you had a choice between Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche. LA – lots of rock stars, movie stars – lots of fancy cars. The ‘80s were Miami Vice era with many Ferrari Testarossas, Lamborghini Countaches and Porsche 911 Turbos on the streets.
Rock, beard and bible
You almost answered my question before but what kind of music do you listen to?
I grew up listening heavy metal music. All the English bands, such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, UFO, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.
When did you start to grow your beard?
Right after we bought this building in 2000. So my beard is about 15 years old now.
Have you ever trimmed it?
No, never. I like to keep it as it is. Low maintenance.
You mentioned Samson (in the Bible, he was a Jewish strongman, whose power came from his beard) in one of yours interviews. What’s your attitude to religion?
I don’t have any religion. Just do what you want to do. When I was a teenager, people used to say: “Cut your hair and get a real job”. Thirty years later, I don’t cut my hair and haven’t got a real job. My religion is going with my gut’s feeling. Always do what makes you happy! I’ve never worried about somebody. I sort of made it my own way.
Projects, cars and Moscow
What are you working on at the moment?
As I often say, there are three things that are connected, which are clothing, property we’ve developed and Porsches. The common thread between of them – they all got their unique style. You’ve seen the building inside now. Probably it wasn’t what you expected to see from the outside. Things look different inside.
Name your top 5 cars.
We used to have a 1967 Jaguar E-Type Series I. It was a great car! Iconic and stylish. I always did like Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, Lancia Stratos, BMW 2002 3.0 CSL, Datsun 510.
You already did Urban Outlaw: Los Angeles, Urban Outlaw: London. Should we expect Urban Outlaw: Moscow from you?
Yeah! I think it’s gonna be great! We’ve shot a lot of videos in LA. We have just landed out Outlaw video in London where I stopped with a visit in December. I think it would be great to film in Paris. Moscow would be phenomenal! Let’s make it happen!
Do you watch TV?
Yeah, we watch a lot of TV.
What is your favorite TV show?
Top Gear is the best one!
I’ve seen a Porsche 997 GT2 in your Instagram. What do you think about new generations of Porsche and modern cars in general?
I’ve been Porsche specific from the beginning but I like variety. Essentially, I’m an old car guy. I don’t own any of the new cars really but I’ve driven lots of them. Modern cars are obviously easy to drive but have less soul, less character, less involvement. They are more functional but less emotional. I understand that progress happens. New iPhone beats the old one. But I still have old cars. If I want to step back in time I just go and get my 1965 Porsche for a drive. If you want to drive modern cars, there are plenty of them around.
In your opinion, will any of the modern cars become classic in the next 20 or 30 years? Regarding Porsche, in future, if we looked back in time 20-30 years from now on, we could say: “Wow! The 997 GT2 and GT3 were phenomenal cars!”. Same with the 918 Spyder. We might say that it was a technological advancement, as the 959 was for its time, almost 30 years ago. I think it’s going to be some certain cars that really stand out. I don’t think it was any different 30 years ago. But Porsche 959 stood out, Ferrari F40 stood out and a lot of cars didn’t stand out. Cream of the crop always rises on the top (edit. – Old English proverb). As for the modern cars, McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 could become classic.
How many Porsches do you have at the moment? A few (smiling). That’s my official answer to this question. It depends. If you count the ‘part’ cars — probably 20 of them. Recently I bought two 924s. One of them is a 924 Turbo, and last week I bought a 1987 924S for $400 from Craigslist. It’s my newest and probably the cheapest Porsche I’ve ever owned. My goal is to buy one of each front engine Porsche — 924, 944, 928. I’ve already owned a lot of air-cooled 911s with the motor in the back. Now I want to have more experience with the motor in the front. From the mid-engined ones I also like the 914.
Did you have a chance to test drive the 924 Turbo? Yeah, I did. It’s a pretty nice-handling car. I’m just about to get a 924 Carrera GT and do a little outlaw treatment with it.
Do you work on cars by yourself? No, I do have a little team. My Porsche background started when I bought my second 911, which is the car that became 277. Around 2000-2001 I started doing track days with the Porsche Owners Club. It was a time when I changed from street driving to track driving. The car was modified and lowered. Back then there was an independent shop working on them. For the last 4-5 years, I have been building my own cars. I have a little team. They are all independent outside people. It’s a 3-person body and paint team, a mechanic and me, coming up with the concept. Also, I do not build customer cars, I build cars for myself. I describe myself as a builder, collector and driver. All car guys share a passion. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Porsche guy, a BMW guy, a Mercedes guy or a Muscle Car guy. We tinker with cars, modify, customize but ultimately drive them!
What do you feel when you drive canyons? Freedom! My garage is right around the corner. That’s why I actually walk to work. Thus, 80% of my driving is pure pleasure! I don’t commute to work. I don’t drive to Santa Monica being stuck in traffic on 10 Freeway for an hour. For me, getting out, going to Angeles Crest Highway, which is only 20 minutes away, is ultimate freedom! Once you’ve got any of those canyons, especially Angeles Crest – you are in another world! Nothing else’s matters. Only you, the car and open road. The great thing about LA and Southern California is that you have these spectacular mountain roads, PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), Malibu, Mulholland Drive. You don’t have to go very far to get a great road. Also you can drive all year round. We sort of forget about those people all around the world who park their cars during winter for 3-4 months.
Have you ever seen yourself as a famous person? I don’t see myself as a famous person. I’m enjoying my life playing around with Porsches – that’s what inspired Moscovici (edit. – Tamir Moscovici, the filmmaker) to make the Urban Outlaw movie over two years ago. And it somehow changed my life. Nothing was planned back then but I think people relate to my story because I am no different to them. I didn’t have Porsche in the family or my father as a racing driver – just a regular guy who follows his passion. It also doesn’t matter who you are – a Porsche guy or a guy who makes guitars. Whatever people say they are passionate about, I think their passion might be somehow connected to my story.
When the official part of the interview was over, I let myself share my personal opinion on car design evolution over the past 30 years and my love to classic German and Italian cars with Magnus. I noticed that he was listening with interest. Suddenly, he asked me if I wanted to go for a drive with him around the block. Wow! I have watched his videos hundreds of times! It was hard to believe that now I would be a part of it!
We picked up the 277 for a ride
As soon as I jumped in the car, I started exploring interior for details. Some stickers on the dashboard, tape covering the driver’s seat and door panel ribs, shift knob shiny from frequent use. We did a warm-up lap around the block to make sure tires got temperature that was needed before the showtime. Magnus started acceleration on his 0-100 km/h playground, well-known as 6th Street Bridge. After that, we made a right turn onto S Boyle Ave, which is a kind of a border between Downtown and East LA. 7th Street Bridge brought us back to Arts District. A couple of sharp turns at high speed, and we were back in front of Magnus’ building. Gates opened, letting us bring the precious back to the collection. It was a unique experience, racing around the neighborhood, where I have lived for almost half a year, being the silent witness of action and watching Magnus operate his Street Rocket.
When Magnus and I got back, his wife Karen was already at home. Should I also say that Magnus is an attentive and caring husband who has several times mentioned how much he is grateful to his wife for sharing his interests and support that she gives him.
Thank you very much Magnus and Karen for the warm welcome! Watch the videos Urban Outlaw!