Magnus Walker has 25 Porsches that could be worth $7.5 million, but he's not selling

Magnus Walker's hobby is designing $300,000 Porsches that aren't for sale
Magnus Walker's hobby is designing $300,000 Porsches that aren't for sale

Magnus Walker is not who he seems at first glance, or even second. When he appears on Wednesday's episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," thoughtfully stroking his long beard in an empty bar, dreadlocks falling to his sides, you could mistake him for a vagrant.

In reality, he is a world renowned Porsche collector with a garage of 25 uniquely modified 911s.

His cars are beautiful. He has taken all the edges off of the 1990 Porsche 964 that he uses to drive around host Jay Leno and given it louvered fenders and a channeled roof. It's what he calls the "the follow-up" to his 1972 911T, a car that he modified and then auctioned off in 2013 for $302,000.

If Walker sold his cars or even took orders for customized designs, he'd make a killing. But he doesn't. Porsches are not his business. They are what he calls his "out of control hobby."

"I'm not selling you anything," he tells CNBC Make It. "If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you're just along for the ride, inspired by the common bond, whether it's art or automobiles." And hundreds of thousands of car lovers are along for that ride.

His passion for Porsche was born back in 1977, when he was only a 10-year-old boy in the "grim Northern steel town" of Sheffield, England. His father took him to the Earls Court Motor Show in London, and when he returned home, he wrote the Porsche factory a letter saying he wanted to design for them.

"Essentially, they wrote me a letter back that said, 'Call me when you're older,'" he says. But 36 years later, they followed up before he had the chance.

They had seen Tamir Moscovici's 2013 documentary "Urban Outlaw," a short film that put Walker on the map, exposing his talents to the public eye and attracting the attention of companies like Porsche, Hot Wheels and Mobile 1, which Walker has since partnered with.

Prior to Porsches, Walker found other outlets for his creative expression. In his recently published book, "Urban Outlaw: Dirt Don't Slow You Down," he tells the story of his company, Serious Clothing, which got its start on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

After leaving school at 15 and moving to Los Angeles, he found a job that paid $10 a day selling secondhand clothes from the Gap. But once he witnessed the crowded walkways and busy vendors, he came up with an idea to sell something unique himself: patched secondhand Levi's jeans.

On his first day trying to sell jeans he made $150. Soon he was making $2,000 in a weekend. Over time, as the company grew, he began wholesaling to Hot Topic, a chain that at the time had less than five stores and now has over 500.

"We ended up outfitting everyone from Alice Cooper to Madonna and everyone in between," he says in his TED Talk about following your passions, which now has almost five million views.

As is the case with many businesses, after about 15 years, Serious Clothing's sales began to dwindle and it eventually closed. "We had a hard time taking the band-aid off," he tells CNBC Make It, but says the time was right. "We sort of became disconnected with the scene and environment we were in. Ultimately we lost the motivation and passion and desire."

But, as Leno notes in the episode, the business "afforded him the chance to live out his childhood dream of curating the ultimate early Porsche 911 collection." So did the warehouse Walker bought in the art district of Los Angeles that he now rents out to movie production companies.

Hearing his life story, it's apparent that there's a common thread in everything Walker does, from his own appearance, to the clothes he designs, to his collection of modified 911s.

"They all have their own unique style," he says, "that is identifiable but different from what everyone else is doing."

"I've always done things my own way," he says. He says he challenges himself to be creative, to find projects that motivate him to get out of bed in the morning.

What is perhaps most impressive is that he's found success in three separate business without any related formal education. He learned a lot about modifying cars, he says, just from "trial and error and asking a lot of questions." He also has a three-member team composed of a mechanic, painter, and a body tech, all part-time. But he is the visionary.

"No one's going to teach you style," he says. "Style is something you either have, or you can acquire and follow."

"It comes from the heart," he adds. "It comes from the gut."

Don't Miss: How a $500,000 bet created an $8.5 billion dollar company

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT.

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