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Magnus Opus: The Complete Porsche 964

911

Magnus Opus: The Complete Porsche 964


Something Special

He’s much taller than I expected.

Like most, I had seen the videos, read the features and followed the social media persona of Magnus Walker. The man from industrial Sheffield in the United Kingdom has become an icon of the automotive world over the last few years and has been the subject of countless features, interviews and short films.

I think that from the first film, the now iconic Urban Outlaw, I took a liking to him. There was a sense of genuine passion and enthusiasm that came across on screen. Here was a man who was taking great pride and joy from doing his own thing with his own cars for his own pleasure. The fame and notoriety that subsequently came afterwards wasn’t intended, it just happened.

There’s that old – and some would claim clichéd – saying that you should never meet your heroes. I think it’s a bit of a silly one, but it does hold some truth on occasion so it never really leaves the back of your mind. There were a couple of times in the past where our paths should have crossed, but never did, due to one reason or another. I find it funny that the first time I did meet Magnus, it was just a random series of events that led up to an afternoon with him at his garage in Downtown LA. Garage seems the wrong word, because what Magnus has built is the envy of enthusiasts around the world. Behind the tall gates and red bricks, lies automotive nirvana.

It was the picturesque sort of Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. There were clear blue skies and a scorching sun countered only by the occasional breeze in off the Pacific. We had just finished a morning of proper Speedhunting and found ourselves at a loose end in an In-N-Out near Long Beach. Our planned activities for that Sunday were already complete, so there was a decision to make: Do some tourist activities or find more speed to hunt. It wasn’t the most difficult decision we made on that trip.

Larry started by suggesting that we should head to DTLA and check out Magnus’s recent 964 build. What started as a single sentence, quickly developed into reality at a pace which I still find surreal. I’m quite envious of Larry and our other SoCal friends that they consider this as a perfectly normal Sunday afternoon adventure.

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If you put a gun to my head and demanded I bring you here, I couldn’t. It’s beautifully hidden away to the point you could be outside and still not know; there’s nothing that gives it away and it’s something that I immediately fell in love with. Sitting in the passenger seat of Larry’s 996 Turbo, a quick call is all it took for an electronically controlled gate to slowly start opening, revealing somewhere that although I had never been before, was all too familiar. As was the figure walking towards us. To be fair, you couldn’t mistake Magnus for anyone else. He is, who he is.

His warmth and friendliness are the next things I noticed. Some would, understandably, be a bit peeved by a bunch of relative strangers showing up on their doorstep on a Sunday afternoon, but not Magnus. His greeting was sincere. It’s sort of a strange moment, as you have to remind yourself that despite reading so much about a man, you really don’t know him. He definitely didn’t know me. But, as you might know, cars are the great leveller. If you have a genuine passion for automobiles, the sort where you never want to stop learning everything there is to know, then you’ve already made a connection with your fellow enthusiast.

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It just so happens that this is what Magnus is probably best at, sharing his passion for cars. His enthusiasm is absolutely infectious, to the point where you’re practically chasing him from one car to the next as he wants to show you something, be it a complete redesign of a part of a subtle integration of something that wasn’t originally meant to fit. His love for these details, which will go unnoticed by 99 per cent of us, is what sets him apart.

When he tells you that he’s just finished building what he believes is his most complete 911 yet, you know it’s going to be something special.

Seamless

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“What I tried to do here, is sort of create my own personality, with elements of Porsche 356, RUF Yellowbird, Sport Classic and GT3 RS. In a sea of wide bodies, this is still a narrow body,” Magnus explained.

In the space of those two sentences, there’s a lot to process. Incorporating at least four other cars into one is a challenge, let alone four cars spread out over half a century or more. He’s talking about integrating design features and styling cues from both classic and contemporary Porsches, a process which requires extraordinary self control so as to prevent an over-designed end product; a car which is too busy, from a design perspective.

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Magnus has chosen to go the route of a classic single body colour, and not what he calls ‘the boy racer colour combos’ of some of his previous builds. “Why f**k with it? There’s so much detail there. On the new 911 R, they spoiled it by putting the stripes on it, because your eyes don’t focus on the roof, they focus on the stripes. What stands out to me is that you look at this car and it looks completely normal, but you don’t notice the details immediately.”

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There’s a 12-inch wide channel that starts on the hood, but continues over the roof and through the deck-lid and ultimately the ’75 Turbo spoiler. A simple idea, well executed, that’s reminiscent of the GT3 RS’s double-bubble roof. The rain gutter delete is itself a special touch, and its total absence often goes completely unnoticed.

The trim is original 964 fare, but it’s been dipped to remove the anodisation and polished to a mirror finish.

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There has been tremendous weight saving, but all without the use of composite bodywork or interior pieces. It remains an all-steel (save for the bumpers) and original panelled 964, with any unnecessary weight being removed from the car and simplifying it. The electric window system, for example, has been removed and replaced with a manual mechanism from a ’65 912.

The only panels that remain untouched are the steel door skins, with every other panel having been either drilled, louvred, smoothed, channeled or stretched.

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The fuel filler cap is another detail. Typically, the cap is hidden behind a hinged flap on a 964, but that flap has been removed and the fender smoothed. The fuel filler neck was extended two-inches, and the fender reopened to the perfect diameter to take the original cap which was then colour coded to the car. “It’s a pretty straightforward detail, but took a boat load of work to make seamless,” said Magnus. “That’s what this car is about.”

While fender louvres can be traced back as far the 917, they’ve become a signature of Magnus’s builds. The process is relatively easy on a flat panel, but on a curved fender is exponentially more difficult. The fender is first measured for a centre point, six straight cuts are then made before the wing is inverted and the louvres are pressed out with a die. Too much pressure and the steel will crack or split. If the first one isn’t perfectly measured and pressed, the rest are, as Magnus eloquently puts it, “f**ked”.

For a process that’s completely manual and done by eye, it’s an extraordinary amount of work for such a simple detail. Porsche itself has never produced a stamped steel radial-louvred fender.

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Another signature is the integrated rear turn signals, something that you would have seen previously on some of other Magnus’s cars, including 277.

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When Magnus picked the car up, it already had a 3.6-litre 993 motor, which was significantly upgraded to 3.8-litre RS specification by BBi Autosport in Huntington Beach. The end result is some 300hp at the wheels, with 280lb-ft of torque.

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The car has a taut stance; it sits low and aggressive but remains purposeful with a performance focus.

The wheel and tire sizes are relatively conservative. 17×8-inch front and 17×9.5-inch rear Fifteen52 Outlaw rims wrapped with 225 and 255-section Pirelli Trofeo R sit tight inside the stretched and rolled fenders. Suspended on KW Clubsports, the car has been corner-balanced to achieve optimum weight balance and consistent handling characteristics.

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The wheel balance weights are secured in position to prevent them coming off when the glue underneath gets hot during spirited driving.

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The interior too features its own characteristics.

As mentioned above, the electric window system and accompanying motors have been dumped in exchange for a manual window setup. The doors, seats and headliner have been trimmed with a distressed leather, while the floor has been covered with a plush red carpet, something Magnus feels gives the car a more elegant nature. A gentleman’s car, if you will.

The lower knee guard section of the dashboard was missing when the car arrived, so a new one was fabricated from scratch. It’s home to only two simple controls: the ignition and light switches.

Meet Your Heroes

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It’s quite inspiring that in a world where people are trying to shout louder and louder for attention, that Magnus has decided to dial it back with this build.

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It’s an interesting thought when you consider that it took considerably longer and likely more skill to build this car – which still looks relatively stock to the casual observer – than an RWB, something which is visibly much, much louder.

It’s a thought-provoking comparison, one which has brought me to think about things on a deeper level. On one hand, you have a car built by a man for himself. On the other, a car that I feel is often built for the approval of others. I like both, if I’m being honest, but I do think I appreciate one more than the other.

That’s the sort of car this is, it makes you think. It makes you look harder and rewards your patience by showing you a little bit more every time you look at it. It has levels, it has depth, it is in many ways the whole package.

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Where some cars are built to get a reaction, all too often, they’re ultimately forgettable once the initial shock or impact has worn off. This really is different though and I can see why Magnus calls it his most complete 911. Where one would be happy just to have a drive in some cars, this is one of those that you’d want to bring home and call your own. Failing that, you can take so much away from a car like this for your own build. Simple ideas that can be transferred or integrated into any style of car.

Ideas don’t cost anything.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos
paddy@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com



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