Magnus Walker first set eyes on a Porsche 911 aged 10, at the Earl’s Court Motor Show in London. He wrote to Porsche asking for a job designing sports cars soon after, and received a polite decline asking him to “give us a call when you get older.”
He never did end up working for Porsche, but the seed was sown for a life-long passion that has seen him become one of the most renowned collectors of the prestigious car in the world, and his letter was an early sign of the enterprise that would serve him so well.
We’re pretty sure everyone at Porsche knows all about him now.
Magnus grew up in the British working class city of Sheffield, and left school without much in the way of qualifications. So he headed to America as a teenager, searching for his lane in life, and soon found himself climbing Los Angeles’ fashion scene.
He started selling customized jeans for $25 each, opening a stall on Venice Beach, and his brand Serious would go on to become the go-to outfitters for Madonna, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper and a host of other rock stars. The serial entrepreneur would then move into property development in Downtown Los Angeles, long before the area was gentrified, and then expanding into the film location business.
And then there’s the car collecting, for which Magnus is now best-known. He has owned more than 50 Porches in his multi-million dollar collection, including some of the very rarest models, and using the moniker the Urban Outlaw, is a unique and influential voice in the car scene. He was born Magnus Lucien Titus Bennett Walker, an unusual name for a Yorkshire lad, and has now earned an even grander title — the undisputed King of Porsche.
Here we get to see the man behind the beard, the soul beneath the hood, as the latest subject of our ‘Who The F*** Are You?’ profile, where he shares his thoughts on life, love, grief and following your dreams.
Who the f*** are you?
I’m Magnus Walker, an Englishman living in LA. A man with a beard. I was born in Sheffield on 7/7/67. I left school at 15 with two O Levels, then moved to America at 19 to work on a summer camp with inner-city underprivileged kids north of Detroit. That’s when I learned to become an adaptive swimmer. At the end of that summer, I took a Trailways bus from Detroit to LA. I’ve been in LA ever since.
How are you feeling right now?
Right now I’m feeling great. I’m sat in a hot bathtub. Apart from that, my mood is upbeat. I feel like I’m on a creative roll working with new people on new projects, enjoying life and making some memorable moments.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Sheffield, a northern industrial steel town in England. With a strange name like Magnus, at an early age I got picked on because of my name, as I was the only one with that name in school. In my early years I disliked my name, but I later on realized, much like the Johnny Cash song, ‘A boy named Sue,’ it built character. Sheffield is often referred to as being grim, but although my upbringing was somewhat working class, I had a good time. My home life was mostly stable and the music scene was great.
What excites you?
My current excitement is my 1971 Series III V12 patinaed soon-to-be rat-rod E-Type Jaguar. I’m excited by the idea of moving forward, setting goals for myself, achieving those goals, pushing myself to the next level, experiencing new opportunities, and making the most out of every moment.
What scares you?
Much like Samson, I’m scared of losing my hair. I’ve had long hair since I was 15. Over the past few years, there is less of it, the dreads have thinned and fallen out, and my hair is turning a lighter shade of grey.
What’s your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement happened in my early 20s, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when I was finally able to quit couch surfing and bumming rides from friends, and support myself all under the roof of my own LA apartment. Not going back to Sheffield represented a sense of personal achievement, as it was a goal I had set for myself a few years earlier.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
The hardest thing I have ever done is deal with the death of my wife and partner of 21 years, Karen Caid, in 2015. Her death was sudden and unexpected, and moving on was the greatest challenge of my life. Karen was the type of person that made everyone around her a better person. She brought out the best in all, was always up for anything, and made sure we made the most out of every moment. There is no rule book or guide on how to deal with a tragic loss such as this. I didn’t seek any help or therapy, all I can say is I took it one day at a time. I spent the next 18 months traveling as a way to heal and deal with the loss and re-evaluate what was important to me. The light at the end of the darkness was meeting my new love and partner Hannah Elliott 20 months later.
Who was your greatest mentor and what did they teach you?
Growing up, I didn’t necessarily have a mentor in the traditional sense. Sure I had some heroes, posters on the wall, newspaper clippings. But perhaps the one that was the most inspirational were just two words written on a cross country certificate that I had, circa 1978 or 79, from the soon-to-be Olympic champion and 1500-meter world record holder, Sebastian Coe. “Well done!” was all he wrote next to his signature. But this meant the world to me, as it inspired me to keep moving forward. Over 40 years later, I still have this signed certificate. It just goes to show, a little goes a long way.
Who are your fictional and real-life heroes?
It’s fair to say I don’t have any.
What is your favorite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
I always talk about my favorite pair of old boots and worn-out jeans. I’m all about texture, comfort, wearability. I like items to feel like they’re a part of my skin. I tend towards old vintage pieces as opposed to new shiny pieces. My current favorites that I wear almost daily are Doc Martin boots, Nike SBs, a pair of Nudie jeans that I’ve worn straight for the past year, my thermal, my T-shirt, and my worn in Ralph Lauren tartan shirt and distressed leather jacket. All topped off by my well-worn distressed faded brown Derby hat.
What music did you love at age 13 — and do you still love it now?
Growing up as a kid I listened to a lot of heavy metal music. Almost 40 years later, I still listen to it, but not quite as much and at a lesser volume. More than just music, though, heavy metal to me represented a lifestyle, and attitude, and the freedom to not conform to the norm. To me it is as much a way of life as it is a musical style.
What is the most inspiring book you have ever read?
Truth be told, I have never read more than a handful of books in my entire life — usually I just like to flick through the pictures — although I did write one, called ‘Dirt Don’t Slow You Down’ back in 2017. The most inspiring book I did read was the John Lennon story that I read back in Venice in the early 1990s.
What is a movie that left a lasting impression on you?
Blade Runner, the first one, influenced me greatly. It sets the mood and tone visually and musically in a dreamlike sequence.
What is your favorite word or saying?
My favorite word is generally ‘yes,’ as I tend to say yes more than I say no to opportunities and adventures that excite me. Recently though I have found myself saying ‘No’ quite a bit, as we adopted a German Shepherd puppy dog named Willow. Hey, after all, ‘NO’ is part of puppy dog training.
What do you want people to say at your funeral?
I’d like to be remembered as a man that gave back, never judged, worked hard, and inspired others to never give up on their dreams.
And finally, a quickfire five favorites…
Truth be told, I don’t have one, but I do like the Sheffield Chess Club and the Hallamshire Horse and Hounds Club 😉
Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Doc Martens