Someone once told me that “behind every great man is a great woman.” If a relationship is going to function on a level where both parties are happy and productive, there has to be strong communication and complete transparency. Just a few months before her passing, Karen Walker told me that was one of the main reasons why she was completely smitten over her husband Magnus. As a result, the couple remained joined at the tattooed hip for well over 22 years.
But in order to truly understand how this has anything to do with Porsches, we have to go back to the beginning before there was an L.A. warehouse filled with classic European cars, fame, and fuel-filled films and video games. The Walker story begins way back in the early 1990s, when a couple of clothing designers at a trade show wagered a $1 bet that Magnus was gayer than a French horn.
Back then, Magnus Walker was too busy traveling to fashion trade shows to worry about building Porsches, and while he inwardly pined for them, as a struggling clothing designer he was far more concerned with paying rent at the time. So when Karen’s openly gay coworker bet her $1 that Magnus was a “poof,” and that he could land a date with the lanky Englishman, Karen was determined to prove that this long-tall drink of Yorkshire water was straight as an arrow. So after a series of phone calls (and one severely damaged panel van) Karen was sold, and that first date ended up lasting more than two decades.
The Walkers remained virtually inseparable, as Karen never hesitated to roll with Magnus to press events, book signings, and all manner of automotive meet to show her support for his new-found success as a Porsche builder. This is where I come in; when word got out that the Walkers would be attending the 38th Ault Park Concourse d’Elegance in my backyard of Cincinnati, Ohio, I felt it behooved me to at least hit them with a dozen unorthodox questions in order to see what made the dynamic duo tick. So after a morning Q&A session at Porsche of the Village (which Magnus referred to as “The POV”), I was able to get an interview slated that afternoon at a “Hangar Party” that was being held at a local municipal airport.
What began as a mere recap of Magnus’ childhood love for Porsches and how he had written the company a letter as a child asking for a job quickly turned into a madcap weekend-long conversation of magnificent proportions. I learned how the couple became Porsche-exclusive primarily because the Jag wasn’t stealthy enough and how Karen hated Magnus’ Lotus with a passion. There were tales from their recent trip to Tokyo, where Magnus and the owner of RWB/Rauh Welt talked shop, and how their dog “Skynyrd” had been known for “Sniffin’ nuts, and bitin’ butts” when she was a puppy.
They told me about their retirement plans and how they wanted to travel to Japan again soon, and how Karen’s nail color inspired Magnus to paint-match parts of the “Paul Smith Car” to her preferred polish. They even told me how they would occasionally pretend that Magnus was Rob Zombie’s big brother, “Bob Zombie,” and how people would approach the metal frontman asking for autographs because they thought he was Magnus.
After getting a pretty extensive back-story, along with some laughs about the time Magnus sheared-off a dreadlock in a car door and how Karen planned to put it for sale online, I was able to hit Magnus with a few car-related questions to see where he stood project-wise, and what his take was on the future of Porsche. The metal-loving England transplant told me that he is beginning to prefer the road less traveled, and in true Urban Outlaw fashion has been modifying some of Porsche’s water-cooled cars like the turbo 924, and that he currently has a Carrera GT on deck for some unexpected modern day zaniness. Magnus also told me that he thought the best water-cooled Porsche of all time was the 996 twin-turbo, and that he could not wait to get behind the wheel of a Cayman GT4 for some throttle thrashing.
As we stood in the shade of that massive airplane hangar at Lunken Airport, sipping craft beer and shooting the shit, Magnus admitted to me that both the Macan and Panamera were what he called “Executive Hot Rods,” and that if someone wants a future collector Porsche they better “get off their arse and buy a GT2 or a GT3.”
We talked for another half hour or so, with Magnus telling me stories about how the only car he ever named was his 277, and how happy he was to sign the wall in the Heritage Room at the new Porsche Experience Center Headquarters on the day it opened. At one point, Magnus tossed one of his three-foot-long dreads over his shoulder and leaned in to answer my next question with great enthusiasm.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff going on outside of just building Porsches,” he said in his ever-noticeable accent, “I’ve got some collaborative projects lined-up with Momo, the Need for Speed video games, and Pirelli as well.” I gave him a fist bump and hit him with a question regarding the million dollar Porsche 918 Spyder supercar we were standing next to on the runway. “My take on hybrids?” he said sternly, all while quaffing his beer in contemplation, “It’s evolution really. Just go with the flow and look forward.”
The sun was beginning to wane at that point in the evening, and I took it upon myself to wrap-up our interview with a question that had nothing to do with Porsche. If Magnus Walker had to buy a front-wheel drive car and actually daily it, what would it be? After a prolonged pause, Magnus responded cheekily, “Front-wheel drive… What the hell is that?!”
Maybe it was time to put my list of questions away, and right when we were about to finish our pints, Magnus snapped his fingers, looked me right in the eye, and said, “I’d have a Ford Focus ST. Excellent value for the money man, and I actually drove one and enjoyed it!”
Twenty minutes later I was basking in the air conditioned glory of the airport lobby with Magnus’ wife Karen, preparing for our final leg of the interview with fresh pints and notepaper, neither of us knowing that within a few months she would suddenly depart from this planet. “With Magnus there’s never a dull moment,” Karen said, with the most genuine grin imaginable upon her Georgian face. “I love him to pieces and wouldn’t kick him out… even if he was eating crackers in bed.”