Like all of you, I have a Porsche passion. I have owned in excess of 30 Porsches in my lifetime and at my weakest Porsche moment had 14 at one time. Most were air-cooled 911’s manufactured between 1967 and 1973. Arguably the best years.
In 2007 I had a carriage house and warehouse filled with air-cooled 911’s in blue, red, silver, white and yellow. The only difference was color, engine displacement, coupe or targa. I was looking for a bigger differentiator; something that would make them unique from each other, a personal touch so to speak. I wanted more horsepower. I wanted more spirited driving. The performance statistics of these cars were certainly surpassed by any make of sports car being produced in 2007.
Back then, my personal “auto surgeon” was Jason Fennessey. He was founding Speedlife and had free time to assist me in purchasing 911’s. He was passionate about Porsche and an excellent mechanic. He enjoyed tweaking my 911s. I wanted to create RS, ST and R deviants. Jason is creative and wanted to push the limits by taking a couple of my early 911s and putting those alphabet ingredients in a blender and create the ultimate array of “FrankenPorsches”.
We started collecting parts like ducktails, “S” spoilers, hood mounted big-ass rally lights, performance exhausts, suspension and brake kits, sport seats, RS door panels, shift kits and more. Jason began to spec out a few cars with creativity and color combos that surpassed my imagination. I shared with a few Porsche friends my excitement of the projects Jason and I were about to embark on. And then it happened. The Porsche community in my little world came down on me a like a ton of bricks. “Are you F’ing crazy?!!!”, they shouted. Well not really but it sounded like shouting to me. “Keep your 911s original”, “Restore to Porsche spec”, “Why would you destroy these cars?” “Why would you destroy their value?”, “Why would you destroy history?”. I succumbed to their cries of logic with the exception of Jason building an RS clone. A fantastic Porsche I still own.
In many ways they were right. When I began to thin out my collection of Porsches I was rewarded handsomely on the open market for keeping them original. Buyers were always asking for documentation of originality and modifications always meant a discount to the buyer.
Fast Forward To 2014
I mentioned to my friends at FLATSIXES.com that I was heading to LA for the weekend. They know my passion for air-cooled early 911s and suggested if I had free time I should visit with their friend Magnus Walker and see his collection. As this conversation was taking place my mind is repeating Magnus Walker? Magnus Walker? The name is familiar but I can’t put it in context. I’m told to get on my computer and Google “‘Urban Outlaw‘ movie”. We get off the phone and I do it. Exactly thirty two minutes later (the length of the film) I am on the phone with FLATSIXES asking them to arrange my visit. Magnus Walker had the courage to build spirited 911s that flew in the face of convention and I wanted to meet him.
I arrive at Magnus’ collection in LA on Friday afternoon. He is deep in conversation with none other than FLATSIXES.com’s Bradley Brownell. While I wait, I look around at his creations, I breathe the Urban Outlaw air and quickly realize Jason and my opportunities lost. Magnus walks over, we introduce each other and begin Porsche speak; the universal language of those passionate about Porsche.
My other passion is fine Swiss watches. I am co-president of Royal Jewelers in Andover, MA. Six of the seven days in a week I am in a suit. I wear French cuff shirts, Italian shoes and Hermes ties. Naturally a fine Swiss watch is on my wrist, usually with a complication. Magnus by contrast… well just look at the picture of Magnus and me. That’s when it hit me. I’m “east coast” traditional” he is west coast “rad” . Not just in a fashion sense (and no judgment there, truly) but also in the world of thinking and in the world of car mods.
California LOVES car mods. Heck, California is where hot rods, street rods and rat rods were born in the 1930s. Don Garlitz and Dan Barris – California. Chip Foose and Boyd Coddington – California.
It was the Northeast traditional thinking that kept my 911s original, true to the Kardex. It was California that crept into the mind of Magnus. In talking to him you realize he didn’t set out to re-tune 911s, it was an evolution. As he drove, raced and enjoyed Porsches there were areas of performance he knew the Porsche could realize differently or better. He changed gear ratios, gear boxes, tweaked engine displacement, tire sizes ect. For Magnus it was about the performance and getting more driving spirit from the car. He used the word “soul”.
As for the aesthetics, well, that’s just Magnus. If he liked the look of the plexi louver rear side windows on a 911R or the flares on an RS he would incorporate it in car he was building. That’s Magnus’ style. And thank goodness for it.
My favorite touches are the plaid seat inserts. I associate those with vintage Mercedes 300SL Gullwings. His cars are def cool.
So I circle back to the dilemma in my mind – debating the merits of originality versus outlaw. What’s right? What’s wrong? I determine both are the answer.
After finishing my talk with Magnus I spend time walking around his collection getting tactile. Running my hands over rooflines and fenders. Opening engine bays. Allowing my finger tips to glide over the stitching on seats. Pondering color schemes.
Magnus cares not of the cost involved or what others think. For Magnus modifications are done for the love of Porsche. To get more out of the car. To allow each Porsche to be all that it can be. To strive for a higher level of driving perfection and enjoyment. For Porsche nirvana.
As Magnus so aptly said while looking me straight in the eye, “Porsche is my drug of choice.”