Inside the outlaw Porsche empire of Magnus Walker
Admit it. Magnus Walker is one heck of a name. Sounds more like a drink, or a hand-crafted line of men’s shoes. So it’s fitting that the man who owns this name presents himself with unmistakable flair.
“Park it right there,” Walker says to a guest pulling into his downtown Los Angeles warehouse courtyard, brushing aside massive dreadlocks as his perfectly distressed cowboy boots thump the asphalt. “Let me show you around.”
Over the next few hours, Walker, 45, talks non-stop. About his life: growing up poor in gritty Sheffield, England, before making it big in the U.S. apparel business. About his work: from selling second-hand jeans with hand-sewn patches in Venice Beach to providing teen-oriented rock ‘n roll garb to national chains. About his good fortune: from choosing an American flag motif for his clothing just before 9/11 hit, to buying this very building in a once seedy arts district only to see it become a wildly lucrative movie-location rental.
But mostly he talks about his hobby, about how visiting the London Auto Show in 1977 exposed him to a white Porsche 911 Turbo with blue and red Martini markings. The hook set.
“I saw that car and it just clicked for me,” says Walker, surrounded by innumerable automotive books, posters, hood ornaments, along with a gaggle of signed Les Paul guitars and a classic photo of Keith Richards in a mid-'70s drug-addled stupor. “As a kid coming from Sheffield, owning a 911 just seemed like an unachievable dream.”
Dream, achieved. The hard way. Walker spent a good part of the ‘80s working as an international camp counselor in various U.S. cities, and in 1989 decided to turn rags into L.A. rent money. His repurposed jeans creations soon caught on with area rockers, and before he knew his company, Serious, was shipping hip clothes and hats to malls across the nation. In Serious’ turn-of-the-millennium heyday, Walker was outfitting the likes of Alice Cooper and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and finally indulging in his drug of choice: automobiles.
He started with a 1974 911 slantnose conversion, and later sold it for a 1971 911T that he turned into an RS replica so he could hit the track. Between 2002 and 2007, Walker lived at nearby circuits such as Willow Springs and Thunderhill, and the resulting plaques hang on the wall of his cavernous office. At that point, the fashion business faded, but he found a new stream of income renting his warehouses to rappers and film crews (the mobster’s lair in the Bruce Willis film “The Whole Nine Yards” is Walker’s home).