• 21st Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon 2018.

    21st Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon.

    Magnus Walker goes new ways.

Several firsts.

Most people only know Porsche guru Magnus Walker at the wheel of his legendary Porsche 911 with start number 277. Yet, at the Silvretta Classic, the now-Californian fell in love with a black Gullwing with number 25.

Magnus Walker, wacky Porsche collector from downtown Los Angeles, was able at the 21st Silvretta Classic to celebrate several firsts. “It’s my first time in a Gullwing and it’s also my first time in such a classic-car rally,” says the British-born driver, laughing into his beard. “I’ve competed in many kinds of races in my time, but nothing like this. It’s all so demanding that you scarcely have time to take in any of the fantastic Alpine panorama on the passes.”

While the real stars of the Silvretta Classic were the more than 180 classic cars, Porsche guru Magnus Walker and his girlfriend, Hannah Elliott, caused quite a stir at the 21st running of the event.

Porsche guru Magnus Walker and his girlfriend, Hannah Elliott, caused quite a stir at the 21st running of the event.

Magnus Walker, in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, was competing in his first classic-car rally.

Magnus Walker in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.

“That’s a fantastic car.”

What made his face beam more than anything else was the black Mercedes-Benz 300 SL of type W 198 with start number 25. “That’s a fantastic car. A car with character,” says Magnus Walker, suddenly becoming serious, “a great sports car that’s fantastic to drive while at the same time being very comfortable.” Walker is not the first person to fall under the spell of the super sports car from the 1950s.

In the last ten years, Magnus Walker has made a worldwide name for himself not only on the classic-car scene. His old Porsche 911 with start number 277 is almost as famous as Magnus Walker himself or his spectacular automobile collection. It’s not just in Montafon that the colourful celebrity from Los Angeles stands out on account of his unusual appearance. Torn clothes, long shaggy hair and biker boots – it’s hardly how one imagines a car enthusiast who has lost his heart to German sports cars.

An automotive legend.

Magnus Walker fell in love with the outline of the Porsche 911 while still a child. It all happened at the otherwise rather unspectacular London Motor Show that took place at Earls Court in the summer of 1977. The senses of a child were captured by the first edition of the white Porsche 911 Turbo with charismatic Martini racing colours in blue-white-red. Magnus Walker, today almost 50 years of age: “At home in Sheffield, you didn’t often get to see a Porsche back in those days. The 911 was an absolute dream. I simply had to have one.” It was especially the unique shape of the 911 that won the heart of Magnus Walker at first sight: “It’s immediately recognisable, and has been for almost 50 years.” The same is true of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. An automotive legend that every child can recognise from a distance by its outline.

Like thousands before him, Magnus Walker fell under the spell of the Gullwing. Where could be a better place to enjoy such a super sports car for the first time than on the Silvretta Classic, one of Europe’s best-known classic-car rallies – with sunny weather normally guaranteed. The fact that, this year, there wasn’t much dawn-to-dusk sunshine on the around 650 kilometres through Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland did nothing to dampen the mood of those taking part in the Silvretta Classic. The over 180 competitors didn’t allow the frequent rainfall to blunt their enthusiasm. Occasionally, there was even a welcome ray of sunshine. The classic-car aficionado from Los Angeles was regularly called upon to sign autographs or pose for a selfie.

The Phaeton saloon of the Mercedes-Benz 630 K is a rarer sight on rallies than ever before.

The Phaeton saloon of the Mercedes-Benz 630 K is a rarer sight on rallies than ever before.

Three unforgettable days.

Normally, Magnus Walker is at home on the world’s race tracks or driving through California as an urban outlaw. The videos of Magnus Walker with him thundering through Los Angeles have long since taken on a cult character on the web. Full throttle along the Pacific Coast Highway or a hot race in the Hollywood Hills – Magnus Walker has long since become an alternative freedom-loving US Röhrl, who visibly enjoyed the three unforgettable days at the wheel of the black Gullwing – not just because his girlfriend, Hannah Elliott, was at his side in the co-driver’s seat to tell him the way and inform him about the special stages of the rally. Magnus Walker in his W 198 from 1961 was the great attraction not only among the younger spectators on the tree-lined mountain roads around Albula, Lenzerheide, Faschinajoch, Hochtannberg and Bieler Höhe.

As popular as ever.

Former Formula One drivers Jochen Mass and Karl Wendlinger, too, are as popular as ever. They shake hands, talk shop about the white Mercedes-Benz SSK that Jochen Mass piloted or about the silver racing version of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL in which Karl Wendlinger had to make his way through the rain. There’s a good chance that Magnus Walker will put in another appearance at next year’s Silvretta Classic – perhaps this time in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster. At any rate, Mercedes-Benz Classic well be there again in Montafon and, next time, let’s hope the weather is as sunny as in previous years.

Former Formula One driver Jochen Mass in a Mercedes-Benz SSK from 1928.

Former Formula One driver Jochen Mass in a Mercedes-Benz SSK from 1928.

Image gallery.