When is a Porsche 911 not a Porsche 911? When it’s a Ruf

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Faszinating —

The cars have starred in Gran Turismo and on the Nordschleife.

Jonathan M. Gitlin

  • This looks like a collection of Porsche 911s, but if you checked each car’s VIN you’d find they were officially recognized as being made by Ruf.


    Ian Wood

  • Ruf’s most famous car is the 1987 CTR, aka the Yellowbird.


    Ian Wood

  • The Ruf CTR started life as a Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 before being heavily reworked.


    Ted7

  • The Yellowbird’s low-drag body and light weight (~1,100kg) meant it could reach a top speed of 213 mph (342 km/h) in 1987.


    Ted7

  • You don’t need to wear loafers and white socks to drive the Yellowbird quickly, but it helps.


    Ted7

  • This is the 2016 Ruf Ultimate, which takes the look of the CTR but with a carbon-fiber body and a 590 hp (440 kW) engine.


    Ted7

  • What a wonderful shade of blue.


    Ian Wood

  • This is a 1994 Ruf RCT Eno narrow body.


    Ted7

  • I love this plaid upholstery.


    Ted7

  • Until today I did not realize Ruf fitted unique reversing lights to its cars.


    Ted7

  • Another 1994 car, this time an RCT Evo wide body.


    Ted7

  • Another wacky seat trim.


    Ted7

  • The Ruf Turbo R; you may remember this one from Gran Turismo 2, although this car is actually a 2016 model.


    Ted7

  • Big wheels, big brakes.


    Ted7

  • Not all Rufs are air-cooled. This is a 2015 Ruf RT12R.


    Ian Wood

  • It’s a more extreme version of the Porsche 911 Turbo.


    Ted7

  • It wouldn’t be a Ruf without distinctive seat fabric, right?


    Ted7

  • Centerlock alloy wheels.


    Ted7

  • The 2012 Ruf CTR3 really is Ruf’s own creation, a mid-engined supercar.


    Ian Wood

  • The CTR3 was developed with the help of Canadian company Multimatic. It’s also partly responsible for the Ford GT, Aston Martin One-77, and will be building the chassis for Porsche and Audi’s new LMDh race cars.


    Ted7

The Porsche 911 is one of the most instantly recognizable cars in the world. For decades and across multiple generations, Porsche has kept the same basic shape and the same basic format—a flat-six engine mounted behind the rear axle. But some of the most famous 911s don’t actually wear the Porsche crest. Instead, they’re officially recognized as the products of a company called Ruf, based in Pfaffenhausen, Germany. And there’s a new exhibition celebrating them at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

If you’re a car nerd, chances are you already know about Ruf. That might be because of Faszination on the Nürburgring. It’s a 20-minute promo video made by Ruf in 1987 and features a bright yellow Ruf CTR, also known as the Yellowbird. Based on the naturally aspirated 911 Carrera 3.2, Ruf seam-welded the chassis, replaced the body panels with lightweight aluminum (or fiberglass for the bumpers), and upgraded the suspension and brakes. Ruf also upgraded the engine, boring it out to 3.4 L and adding a pair of big turbochargers, resulting in at least 463 hp (345 kW) and 408 lb-ft (553 Nm)—well in excess of anything Porsche sold at the time.

Faszination on the Nürburgring also stars one Stefan Roser, Ruf’s test driver. For 20 minutes, he puts on a virtuoso display of car control, hustling the Yellowbird at oftentimes preposterous slip angles around some of the daunting corners that make up the Nordschleife. It’s also a pretty good demonstration of how 1987’s tire technology was not really up to the job of containing all that power. Until the age of the Internet, VHS copies of Faszination on the Nürburgring were traded as prized possessions, but now anyone can watch it thanks to Ruf’s YouTube page:

Faszination on the Nürburgring.

If you’re reading Ars, it’s more likely you first encountered Ruf in Gran Turismo 2, a racing game once named the best console racer of all time (an extremely unscientific and rather controversial judgement, it must be said). At the time, Porsche was locked in an exclusive license with Electronic Arts, a deal that did not expire until 2016. So the game’s designer, Kazunori Yamauchi, decided that he’d approach Ruf instead, apparently accosting Alois Ruf Jr. in a hotel to secure the brand’s appearance in the game.

The exhibition, called “Pfaffenhausen Speed Shop—The RUF Gallery” opened at the Petersen on May 15 and features a 1990 Ruf CTR Yellowbird, a 2012 Ruf CTR3 ClubSport, a 2007 Ruf Turbo R Cabriolet, a 2016 Ruf Turbo R Ltd, a 2016 Ruf Ultimate, a 1994 Ruf RCT EVO narrow body, a 1994 Ruf RCT EVO wide body, and a 2015 Ruf RT12R.

Listing image by Ian Wood

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