A Chance Meeting With Magnus Walker

Catching Up With The Urban Outlaw At Home In Los Angeles

IT WAS LATE FEBRUARY OF 2019, and my plane had just touched down at LAX in Los Angeles. I had travelled to the land of Hollywood to escape the long, cold hard winter of Toronto, on a Porsche-themed adventure.

After renting a white Dodge Challenger, perfect for valley and desert cruising, like in the film Vanishing Point, I made my way to my first stop, the Petersen Automotive Museum. The Porsche Effect collection was being curated, and it was a marvellous display of rare 911s and RSR race cars. My eyes feasted on the yellow RUF Turbo and many 356 iterations as well as the PCA anniversary edition 991. The collection was a wonderful mix of vintage, modern and race-crafted time machines that transported me through a historical portal. This wasn’t a bad start to my vacation.

Over the next two days I had booked a couple sessions at the Porsche Experience Center, participating in a car comparison between a GT3 and a 911 Turbo, as well as a session with a 911 CS2 and CS4. The next few hours were spent manoeuvring the cars through various modules, testing the handling characteristics and their track-driven tendencies.

Midway through the week I was inspired to visit Magnus Walker’s Urban Outlaw store. I had seen notices on Instagram of it being open on specific days and when I checked on Google, the information said it was open during the week, so I decided to check out the store the next morning.

Befitting of this pilgrimage I wore my Urban Outlaw cap and made my way to LA’s Arts District where the store was located. When I arrived, a film crew was putting up a set in the loft garage complex. I approached a coordinator and asked if the store was open but was told it wasn’t. I thought it was unfortunate that I wouldn’t be able to purchase some of the cool merchandise, so instead of making my way back to the hotel, I decided to drop by Urth Caffé which was only a block away. As I sat out on the patio, I logged in to the Urban Outlaw merchandise store and placed an order for a couple T-shirts, cap and accessories.

As I continued to browse my phone I looked up and saw Magnus Walker walk past and call out “Nice hat!” I thought that was so cool to have been spotted by him!

As I continued to browse my phone I looked up and saw Magnus Walker walk past and call out “Nice hat!” I thought that was so cool to have been spotted by him! After a few minutes, he walked out of the café and placed two of his Urban Outlaw stickers my table. “What brings you here?” he asked. I told him that I had the intent to visit his store, but he explained that it was only open once or twice a month, at a moment’s notice on Instagram. I briefly shared that I had just finished a film contract as a concept illustrator on a Netflix show and needed some time to decompress. He wished me luck and went on his way. How surreal was that meeting?

In the evening I went back to my hotel and wrote Magnus Walker an E-mail, explaining that after discovering him on YouTube and watching a lot of his 911-related videos many years ago, his story inspired me to finally bite the bullet and purchase my first Porsche, a 2016 Cayman GT4. Previously I had been a long-time owner of Corvettes and Mustangs. My father purchased a 1985 Corvette when I was barely a teenager and that’s when I got the car bug. I voraciously read Corvette versus 944 Turbo comparisons. Secretly I wished my father would bring home the 944 yet my loyalties were rooted in American sports cars and muscle. But one day I had hoped to be a Porsche owner. Walker’s short film and TED Talk inspired me to join the Porsche family.

After firing off that E-mail, the next morning I received a response from the Urban Outlaw himself, inviting me to visit his garage to look at some Porsches. Within a half hour I was back down in the Arts District. As I walked into the inner bay I saw a half-dozen 924, 944 and 914 parked indoors as a worker continuously dusted the cars. I told him Magnus Walker was expecting me. He disappeared behind some steel-clad doors and a few minutes later Walker came out and greeted me. Dressed in dark blue jeans and a black leather jacket with a plaid scarf he looked exactly as you see him in the videos — cool, casual and striking. He said to come back to the main garage where all the 911s were. I asked if I could take some photographs and he said yes, leaving me to document the most important collection of outlaw Porsches ever.

In the evening I went back to my hotel and wrote Magnus Walker an E-mail, explaining that after discovering him on YouTube and watching a lot of his 911-related videos many years ago, his story inspired me to finally bite the bullet and purchase my first Porsche, a 2016 Cayman GT4.

About 10 minutes later Magnus Walker made his way back into the garage. I told him that I had been a Porsche convert ever since going out on a hot lap in my Driver Education instructor’s GT4 a few years back. The experience of being a passenger in a GT car, being pushed to the limits of grip, cemented my passion for Porsche. I had driven fast cars before, but this P-car was on another level. From then on, I searched out experiences of driving 911s and Caymans on track and on driving tours. Watching Walker’s videos fuelled my imagination with theatre, which then further ignited my passion for driving these cars.

“Come up to the top floor and see the loft,” he said as I followed him up a hidden staircase. On the second floor was an amazing eclectic mix of gothic, pop culture and modern decor. Gothic arches divided the walls and spaces while gargoyles anchored the posts. Bold coloured modern art lined one wall while the stars and stripes theme seemed to come through in touches here and there. He said that the film location business is what helped him afford his collection of Porsches. Many years ago, Magnus Walker and his late wife were featured in a magazine about the gentrification of downtown Los Angeles. Shortly after he was contacted to rent his loft for film location shooting. Since then he hasn’t looked back. Mostly now he divides his time between Los Angeles and New York City, attending car-related events with his partner, automotive journalist Hannah Elliott.

We ascended to the roof where he pointed to the mountains and said this weekend was the first time they had snow this year. Walker told me that I had to take a drive on Angeles Crest Highway, as it was his favorite road to exercise his Porsches.

We ascended to the roof where he pointed to the mountains and said this weekend was the first time they had snow this year. Walker told me that I had to take a drive on Angeles Crest Highway, as it was his favorite road to exercise his Porsches.

Downstairs his store was decorated in all things pop culture related to Americana. Walker grabbed his autobiography book and four Hot Wheels and gave them to me. I told him I had just ordered some merchandise and, sure enough, the package was sitting on the counter, ready to be shipped. He gave it to me and I made my way out. Thanking him with a huge grin on my face, I passed by his 924 and 944 collections and made my way around some track tires and out the door.

On my way back to the 110 freeway, I reflected on how gracious and generous Magnus Walker was to have shared his collection and time with a total stranger. He was everything you would expect. The way you see him in videos is exactly the way he is in person, a true legend and genuine human being. Thank you, Magnus. </>

Story and Photos by Sanford Kong, PCA UCR Member

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