Interview with Magnus Walker

“It’s all about usable performance”

Fashion designer, car maniac, urban outlaw – Magnus Walker is admired by many in the world of performance driving. In an exclusive interview for the AMG Private Lounge, he talks about his recent experiences driving the ‘Silver Pig’.

It’s 9 A.M. California time when Magnus Walker picks up the phone in his house in Los Angeles. He’s good-humoured, audibly delighted to talk about the subject close to his heart: performance cars. Walker recently published a video of himself driving the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG ‘Silver Pig’, a replica of the legendary ‘Red Pig’ which achieved global fame 50 years ago.

Magnus and the ‘Silver Pig’

Hi Magnus, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk about your experience driving the ‘Silver Pig’. In the video you said, the car represents success against all odds. Could that have also been your personal motto when you emigrated from the UK to the US as a 19-year-old to run your own fashion label?

This is correct on both counts. A four-door sedan is not what you think of when you think of a race car. So, the original ‘Red Pig’ obviously made a big impact and the re-creation that Mercedes made with a few modern upgrades in performance, to me, was a really funny car to drive. It was surprisingly nimble for a car that appears bigger and heavier than it actually is. So that was the underdog 50 years ago. When I came to America in 1986, 35 years ago, I could relate to sort of being the underdog a little bit, and still can. So, there are some similarities right there.

You became widely known in 2012 through the short film ‘Urban Outlaw’. Would you consider yourself to be an outlaw still today?

I think we all have a little outlaw spirit within us. It's just whether you choose to follow that path or not. For me, I grew up in Sheffield in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. Sheffield was a northern industrial town not too dissimilar maybe to Stuttgart. I was into rock and roll music and heavy metal, which were always a bit of outlaw, beyond-the-norm type of musical genres. So, I think that was just in my DNA, my spirit of not necessarily liking to follow rules. I left school at an early age. I never really liked to be told what to do. I kind of like that attitude of it being ultimate freedom. Then I chose the sort of cars that I modified just to add my own personality onto them.

Magnus Walker in front of a vehicle
Magnus Walker in front of a vehicle

Photography | Tommy Kallgran

Do you think that there are many modern outlaws out there today?

Of course! I mean, some would say Elon Musk is an outlaw doing things a little bit differently. The outlaw spirit can be everything from “The Outlaw Josey Wells cowboy” (edit: a 1976 Western movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood) to someone who's a chef trying a new dish. Obviously, there are these various levels of outlaw behaviour. But just choosing to walk on the other side of the road could be looked at as outlaw behaviour in some places. It's quite a loose term.

What made the ‘Red Pig’ an outlaw back in the day?

No one expected a big Mercedes four-door sedan to be competitive on the racetrack. That was something really out of the norm. Growing up in England, I watched a lot of club racing where you would also see sedans. But Mercedes surprised a lot of people by winning this class in Spa 50 years ago. That really put that car on the map, and it is a bit of an icon. I first saw the re-creation car in Monterrey in 2018 or 2019. When we got the opportunity to drive the ‘Silver Pig’ around Pebble Beach for the first time, we could barely get the car out of the second gear. We couldn’t really explore its performance limits.

Driving shot of Magnus Walker in the ‘Silver Pig’
Driving shot of Magnus Walker in the ‘Silver Pig’

About a year later, I shot that video one week before the car went back to Germany. And I got to experience the car on an open road where I could go pedal to the metal to explore the whole power range. It was impressive! The car doesn't really weigh much. It's got that six point eight litre V8 motor out with the upgraded manual, six speed transmission, and upgraded suspension. It actually handles really, really well. It's super loud, like being in a buzz-saw. It's stripped down. But it's thrilling, it's exciting, and it's intoxicating. And that was what I hoped to capture in the short video called “The Silber Sau”.

Photography | Dilan Mistry

How do you think the ‘Red Pig’ embodies the spirit of AMG?

I think it embodies the spirit of AMG as it is a performance car celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. It was one of the first cars that AMG did, to my knowledge. I've driven quite a few AMGs. Ironically, I've got a car show on YouTube called ‘The Next Big Thing’. One of the latest episodes is me driving a 1984 Mercedes AMG 500 SEC on the streets of New York. Back in the ‘80s, it was a big status symbol. So, for me, AMG is still the top peak of performance, and it doesn't matter whether you’re driving a ‘70s AMG, an ‘80s AMG, or, as I did a couple of weeks ago here in L.A., the latest AMG GT 63 S. The common bond between them all is performance combined in a useable package. To me this is what it’s about.

Magnus Walker – urban outlaw

  • Born July 7, 1967 in Sheffield (UK)
  • Emigrated to the USA at the age of 19
  • Started his own clothing brand, called Serious
  • Short film ‘Urban Outlaw’ made him famous
  • One of the world’s most prominent car collectors
  • Best-seller memoir ‘Urban Outlaw: Dirt Don't Slow You Down’
  • Host of the YouTube series ‘The Next Big Thing’
Magnus Walker and his girlfriend in a Mercedes gullwing
Magnus Walker and his girlfriend in a Mercedes gullwing

Photography | Dilan Mistry

The Next Big Thing with Magnus Walker

You're obviously a car maniac, but also a successful fashion designer. Where do fashion and automotive intersect?

It's pretty simple: It's style, visual, and individuality. Cars have to look good, but they have to be usable. Just like fashion has to have a certain style but has to be wearable and functional. In a way, trends come and go with fashion. The automotive world is a little bit similar. Certain colours of cars appear to be popular for a certain amount of time. Right now, I'm seeing a lot of blue cars around here. The car is a sort of reflection of what is happening in that period of time right now, and obviously that's driven by style.

Trends come and go – what do you currently see in both fashion and cars?

In fashion, there seems to be a lot of throwbacks to the ‘80s with early hip hop baggy comfortable clothing in a weird way, at least in the States. The trend that I've seen in cars, besides electrification, is that performance is getting bigger and bigger. Today, there's a lot of cars out there with 600, 700 horsepower. This was unheard of 30, 40 years ago. So, performance has really moved forward. You can buy a 1,000 horsepower car now. But, at the end of the day, the road determines how fast you're going to travel on it. Here in America, we don't have the Autobahn with unlimited speeds. And you may not be traveling that much quicker in a 1,000 horsepower car than maybe in a 260 horsepower car. Ultimately, performance has to be useable performance. That means drivability in all sorts of environments.

Magnus Walker in a vehicle with a camera in the background
Magnus Walker in a vehicle with a camera in the background

Photography | Dilan Mistry

Speaking of your personal performance – what effect did the pandemic have on your creativity over the last one and a half years?

Great question. Before March 2020, I was traveling all over, I was hardly ever in L.A. In the past 18 months, I haven't really travelled too much. But I've been more creative than in the past five years. Travelling was great, with inspiration all around, but I was never really in one place long enough to channel that inspiration into creativity. Staying home, I got behind the sewing machine for the first time in quite a few years, started making masks right at the beginning of the pandemic. I started working on a third edition of my book. I did a TV show. I did a collaboration with Nike that just came out. On top of that, my girlfriend and I bought a house built in 1925 that we’re restoring which is another creative outlet for me besides cars. All the things that I did during the past 18 months, I wouldn’t have done if I was on the roller coaster travel schedule from before.

Do you think you will get back to your old kind of roller coaster travelling lifestyle after the pandemic?

We're prioritizing our traveling now. A perfect example: I was invited to New York to go to a Formula E race. And I love Formula E. Back in the days, we would have gone without a shadow of hesitation. But now, our priorities have shifted. We just bought the house, and we got a dog. Her name's Willow and she's about 18 months old. So, that's sort of determining how we hit the road and get back on the roller coaster. Now, it’s more about prioritizing the experiences and being a little bit more selective and just really picking the ones which are going to be inspiring and memorable, such as back in 2019 when I came to the Mille Miglia in a Mercedes Gullwing.

Magnus Walker and his girlfriend in a Mercedes Gullwing at the Mille Miglia
Magnus Walker and his girlfriend in a Mercedes Gullwing at the Mille Miglia

Photography | Dilan Mistry

As you said, you have many sources of creativity and inspiration. Is there any specific vehicle, any individual, or any movement that currently inspires you?

What I'm inspired by is actually restoring a Jaguar E-type series 3 V12 2+2, which is slightly similar to the ‘Silver Pig’. Hoping to get about 400 horsepower out of the V12 engine. That's currently what I'm excited about.

Good luck with that! Is there another AMG experience you’d like to share with the members of the AMG Private Lounge?

The most recent AMG I drove was the 2021 AMG GT 63 S here in L.A. For me, it has a similar DNA to the ‘Silver Pig’ in the sense of its usable performance. I always go back to usable performance, and I think that's where AMG really excels. I like the variety of experiences of driving different cars and I've driven a lot of Mercedes cars. I sum it up with high quality, usable performance if you really want to go fashionable. Even if you’re stuck in traffic here in L.A., you're in a comfortable environment.

Magnus Walker in a Mercedes-AMG with a cameraman in the passenger seat
Magnus Walker in a Mercedes-AMG with a cameraman in the passenger seat

Photography | Dilan Mistry

Thanks a lot, Magnus! Would you like to share any final thoughts with us?

What I would like to tell people is enjoy life, make the most out of every moment. As we realized over the past 18 months, when your freedom of movement is restricted, life is a little different. So, get out and drive, meet people, and experience new environments. That's kind of my motto for life. Enjoy it while you can make the most out of it.

We hope you enjoyed this peek into the life and experience of Magnus Walker.

Stay tuned for more about the anniversary of the legendary ‘Red Pig’s’ triumph coming up soon here in the AMG Private Lounge.

Related Content

Debra Bennett and her passion for motorsport

Debra Bennett interview

Balance through Adrenaline

Friends and family were stunned when Debra Bennett got herself a sports car. The AMG fan needed the adrenaline to balance out her family life and career. Even a lack of experience on the racetrack was no obstacle for her.

The evolution of the safety car

Bernd Mayländer interview

“I never stopped enjoying it”

Bernd Mayländer has piloted the Formula 1 safety car for more than 20 years. We talk to the former DTM driver about his unusual path to the upper echelon of the sport, his personal experiences, and what’s in store for the future.