Throwback Thursday: Magnus Walker’s 911 STR

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2023 Intro

In October 2012, Urban Outlaw, a film directed by Tamir Moscovici, was posted online. A month earlier, the 30-minute documentary had made its debut in London at the 2012 Raindance Film Festival, but opening it up to the world put it into the hands of those who would appreciate it the most – the car community. And they ran with it, sharing the film far and wide. The Urban Outlaw personified – Magnus Walker – became an instant icon in the automotive space.

The Porsche builder and collector’s trademark work has been featured on Speedhunters numerous time since then, but it’s hard to beat the feature Sean Klingelhoefer put together on the custom 911 that Magnus named ‘STR’. It’s been over 10 years since that story was published, so it’s time to visit it again for this week’s Throwback Thursday post.

2013 Feature

I know this is a pretty bold statement, but this is probably going to be the coolest thing you see all day. Hell, if you’re a Porsche fanatic like myself, it might be the coolest car you see all month. What I’m talking about is the legendary Urban Outlaw Magnus Walker’s latest creation; the 1972 911 that he himself is referring to as his best build to date.

Spoiler alert: if you’re expecting this to be another one of those posts about how cool Magnus and his massive collection of Porsches are, I’ve got bad news for you; this isn’t that post. There are plenty of those already floating around the web (including our own) and in magazines. This then, is a serious feature of a serious car.

Don’t get me wrong, Magnus is a very cool guy and he does have an amazing shop that I want to die inside of every time I visit, but this is such a strong build that I believe it can retain your full attention without all the mystery and hype typically surrounding the atypical Porsche enthusiast. I think that this is the build that will truly elevate Magnus from a dreadlocked guy in a shed bolting together nine-elevens to a highly regarded car builder.

In short, I think that this will be the 911 that cements the true arrival of Magnus Walker. He’s not some rich ‘freak’, he’s not a famous internet documentary star, and he’s not the stylist to the rock gods; he’s a world class Porsche builder. While all of his life’s past experiences have definitely helped to shape his automotive vision, this car is so epic that it would stand out in a crowd regardless of who built it.

Those in the know will quickly recognize many of Magnus’ signature bits like his now synonymous louvered engine cover and integrated R taillights. While there are certainly similarities between this and his first ‘STR’ build, the practice and experience he’s gained from building these cars for years is really beginning to show.

There’s an effortless flow to the car, one where an unassuming bystander might very well think that this is just a pristine example of a showroom stock vehicle. For the Porsche addict there are lots of little details waiting to be spotted and appreciated, many of which are not only fun but rewarding for the die-hard to discover.

For a while now Walker’s work has often been compared to what the guys at Singer Vehicle Design are doing, which is very good company to be associated with no doubt. Up until this car, I would have said they’re a world apart, but I think Magnus is closing the gap quickly. To the naked eye the cars may appear to be extremely similar on the surface, but what actually lies beneath the sheet metal is an entirely different story.

While Singer have made a name for themselves by converting newer Porsches into long-hood replicas complete with the latest and greatest running gear, Magnus sticks to the tried-and-true retro-mod methodology. Like all of his other well-known builds, this car started out its life as an early 91, Walker has simply accentuated, tuned and tweaked what was there.

This car is Walker’s most thorough build to date and he went through virtually every nut and bolt this time around, leaving no screw unturned. As petrol heads, you’ll all know what I mean when I say that you build your first couple of cars by trial and error, but eventually comes a day when all of your mistakes lead to a more perfect build. For Magnus, this is that build.

I think it’s safe to say that Magnus has never owned a car that wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous, but this time around that wouldn’t be enough. This time the car had to drive as well as it looked. That meant going against his traditional low-displacement roots and building a powerful 3.2L short-stroke monster.

When I first visited Magnus with Ben and Larry back in November, the car was still a work in progress. While the boys carried on about this, that and the other for Ben’s article, I mostly kept to myself and made mental notes about the way these cars are built. I made a promise that day to return to shoot this incredible car once it was all buttoned up.

It seemed for a while like that day might never arrive, but good things always come to those who wait. The finished product is perhaps more beautiful than I ever imagined a car could be. Regardless of whether or not you like Porsches – hell, even if you’re not a petrol head at all – if this photo doesn’t get your heart pumping you’re simply not human.

It’s very hard for me to look at this car and not get emotional; there’s just something about the silhouette of a 911 that makes me weak in the knees. Watching how the light and shadow dance across its glorious curves makes me go crazy. I don’t think I could conceive of a more perfect subject. I could literally photograph nothing but this car every day for the rest of my life and die a very happy man.

The keen eye will have noticed by now that the rear fenders are anything but stock. They have been painstakingly reprofiled to add a wider and more aggressive stance to the car without upsetting the natural body lines. The care that was taken to smooth out the edges where the arch begins shows growth in Magnus’ work.

In fact the entire car seems to be a much more refined example of his tastes, something that typically grows with age and experience. You can tell that Magnus is still very interested in modifying his 911s, but he wants to do so in a subtle way that gives a nod and pays respect to the original concept. Take for example the back-dated chrome bezels on the gauges, not many people would have even considered that.

In fact the whole interior comes together exceptionally well. It’s an exquisite balance of form and function and has all the right ingredients to make up a badass track car without coming off boy-racer-ish. Although the car has a roll bar and 4-point harnesses, it looks elegant and inviting. Very well done if I do say so myself.

The steering wheel doesn’t seem out of place either and has a nice vintage patina without being worn out and disgusting. It says to me ‘come hold me, steer me, feel me kicking back at you Sean…’ It’s only by some cruel twist of fate that such a glorious opportunity doesn’t belong to me. One day.

As with most older Porsches, once the engine is completely assembled and shoe-horned back into the bay, there isn’t much eye candy floating about. Once again the key here is subtlety. There aren’t any super slick do-dads to be spotted, but all of the equipment is spic and span with fresh zinc coating and brand new rubbers and plastics.

Of course, for Magnus it would be sacrilege to put a water-cooled engine in such a car, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some beefy fluid lines running to the front. The attention to detail on this build really goes above and beyond with the small touches like the way that the Elephant Racing finned oil cooler lines have been finished in a gold that exactly matches that of the pin-striping and Group 4 wheels.

If you really want to see something sexy you have to get down on your hands and knees to take peek underneath, but for your effort you’ll be rewarded handsomely. At long last, there’s some beautiful stainless to feast your eyes upon. As good as it looks, I can ensure you that the sound is tenfold as impressive.

Hearing the car tearing through Lower Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles was music to my ears. I’d even go so far as to say it was the best sound for miles around, which says a lot considering that the Walt Disney Music Hall where the LA Philharmonic play was only a few hundred meters away.

Last but certainly not least, the compartment under the bonnet has also been given a good once-over. To keep things simple, most of the trunk has been covered in a flat black which allows the gloss black of the long filler-neck gas tank to stand out as the centerpiece.

In addition to miscellaneous bits and pieces of hardware which have been refreshed or replaced, a Rennline battery kit has also been installed complete with a lightweight Odyssey battery. Magnus tells me he is already in talks with Rennline about making his own branded line of accessories like this with a special Urban Outlaw twist.

So there you have it, Magnus Walker’s self proclaimed “best build” which also happens to be my personal favorite. It’s the culmination of a life long passion and determination to build the perfect Porsche. While he might not think he’s there yet, I’d say he’s gotten pretty damn close – I literally can’t stop staring at it.

The car incorporates all of the best bits from his two favorite models of the nine-eleven, the ST and the R, hence the ‘STR’ moniker. It’s somehow fast, loud and violent, yet subtle and sexy. If there were ever a car that could appeal to virtually every person on earth, I think this is it. After taking dozens of photos of it I was forced to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life; choosing a main image.

If you’re like me and simply can’t get enough of this thing, be sure to head over to Magnus’ blog where he has a complete build post containing dozens of photos of the assembly process. Each time I look at this gorgeous machine I’m filled with violent emotions of love and pain in equal parts. I guess in the case of a 911, it’s better to have loved and never owned than to never have loved at all. One day…

Sean Klingelhoefer
Instagram: gentlearguments

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