Why Is Porsche Called Ruf?

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German automaker Ruf Automobile GmbH (abbreviated RUF) makes vehicles. The company specializes in producing vehicles with unmarked Porsche bodywork in white. Instead of using badge engineering or disassembling pre-existing cars, these vehicles are constructed from the ground up as brand-new automobiles, using bare chassis, and are put together using Ruf-made components and materials (such as BTR, CTR2, and RT12). This indicates that the German government has formally acknowledged the brand as a manufacturer. As a result, all Ruf cars are recognized as production models rather than modified Porsches and have official Ruf VIN and serial numbers. Ruf is the biggest and most well-known manufacturer of Porsche performance upgrades and is famous for its record-breaking 211 mph CTR. Despite being primarily a manufacturer, Ruf has established itself as a car tuner, an expert in Porsche to Ruf conversions (such as Turbo R conversions), and a restoration of vintage Porsche and Ruf models. Ruf also performs maintenance and collision repairs.

Watch RUF’s Rise to Magnificent Freak Status in the Automotive Industry.

There aren’t many businesses that provide the same functions as Germany’s RUF. RUF was founded in Pfaffenhausen, Germany, as a garage in 1939. Over the years, it has transformed into a Porsche specialist shop, a Porsche tuner, and something that almost defies description: a manufacturer of brand-new cars that may resemble an air-cooled 911 but are actually entirely RUF from the wheels up.

If you squint, you might be able to see out some similarities between organizations like Caterham and the Lotus Seven, which greatly expanded the Lotus Seven formula’s original design intentions. Perhaps Singer as well.

The RUF CTR, also known as the Yellowbird, is a late-’80s evolution of the 911 with specifications that still blow minds today: 0-60 mph in 3.65 seconds, a 210 mph top speed, a sub-2,600-pound curb weight (! ), and a challenging but joyful demeanor behind the wheel. To date, none of those companies has created a vehicle with the same kind of world-tilting impact. It’s almost like a freak of nature—a hero vehicle that, by all accounts, exceeds even the most unjustified hopes.

A new short film called RUF: Love at the Red Line takes a look back at the company’s past eighty years, following its development from a service center to manufacturer and the production of what is likely the first viral car video (though back then, you had to buy Fascination at the Nurburgring on VHS). It includes interviews with car culture icons like Bruce Meyers and Kazunori Yamauchi, who helped promote the CTR by adding it in his enormously popular Gran Turismo video game series, as well as Alois Jr., Estonia Ruf, and other members of the firm.

The historical perspective is priceless: The 928, a front-engined vehicle that Porsche had intended to replace the rear-engine, air-cooled 911, was the a-ha moment for Alois, for instance. Obviously, it didn’t because the 911 is still operating (and in many respects, better than ever). However, the development of the CTR, which was at the time constructed using a body shell from Porsche, marked a turning point for the rear-engine sports vehicle. Instead of trying to stop the 911 from advancing toward pure, unrestrained performance, Alois and team set out to push it farther than Porsche dared. The results are still being discussed today, so RUF obviously did something good.

We could refer to this movie as a retrospective, but it would indicate that RUF’s story has come to an end. Nothing could be further from the truth, and its work will likely become more relevant and in great demand than ever before as the performance frontier pushes further and further away from the analog sports car experience that so many of us still yearn for.

In the movie, Alois Ruf says, “My motto has always been: When you drive one of our cars, you have to feel like you are driving your own trousers, your own pants.” We hope that things like the sound of a flat-six engine, the operation of a superb manual transmission, and the ability to interface with both in a properly tuned lightweight sports car will never go out of style.

Gordon Kozak

For as long as he can remember, Graham Kozak has been enamored with automobiles (probably before that, too).

Discover the history of Ruf Automobile

One of the titans of the tuning business is Ruf Automobile. Its 80-year history is covered in the company-produced documentary “Ruf: Love at the Red Line.”

What ultimately resulted in Ruf Alois Ruf Sr. founded Automobile in Pfaffenhausen, Germany, as a standard garage in 1939. Thanks to the tragedy of one driver, his son Alois Ruf, Jr., would later expand the company into a Porsche-tuning powerhouse.

In the video, Ruf Jr. describes how a Porsche 356 crashed after passing his father’s bus one day in 1963. The driver was taken to the hospital by his father, who also fixed the vehicle. This sparked Ruf, Jr.’s passion for Porsches and his successful career repairing and servicing sports cars.

In response to Porsche’s decision to reduce the 911 lineup in favor of the 928, Ruf started selling its own customized Porsches in the late 1970s. While Porsche’s plan to replace the 911 with the 928 was unsuccessful, it did open up a market for Ruf’s tuned 911s.

Alois Ruf, Jr. soon after started designing the CTR Yellowbird, the vehicle that would bring Ruf Automobile long-lasting acclaim. The 945R project began in 1979 with plans to employ a 450 horsepower twin-turbo flat-6 engine that was adapted from the Porsche 935 race car engine. The genuine Yellowbird made its debut in 1987 with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo flat-6 engine producing roughly 460 horses and a 911 Carrera 3.2 body.

With a high speed of 211 mph, the Yellowbird won the 1987 Road & Track “World’s Fastest Cars” competition, defeating competitors like Ferrari and Lamborghini. Alois Ruf, Jr. noted that the vehicle had only performed one previous high-speed shakedown on the route to the test in Germany.

Ruf followed it up in 1989 with “Fascination on the Nurburgring,” another music video featuring the CTR. This video, which may have been the first automotive viral video due to in-car footage and some amazing drifts, was disseminated on VHS back when there was no internet.

The “Gran Turismo” video game franchise is another essential element of the Ruf mystique. To obtain authorization to utilize Ruf automobiles in the games, producer Kazunori Yamauchi hunted out Ruf Jr. in 1998 and located him in a Japanese hotel. Because Ruf is regarded as a hero among auto aficionados, Yamauchi claimed that he wanted to feature the brand.

Before tackling the issue of making a car from scratch, Ruf steadily expanded his repertoire to include additional Porsche models and even a Volkswagen van. The 2017 Ruf CTR resembled the original Yellowbird, except it had a custom carbon-fiber body and chassis tub. With other retro-looking automobiles and restomods of some of its 1990s vehicles, Ruf has carried on that theme recently.

As Alois Ruf describes the idea guiding their spectacular performance, its unorthodox automobiles come into focus.

In this video from RUF, service garage owner Alois Ruf Sr. describes how a Porsche 356 Karmann notchback tried to overtake him one day as he was operating a bus. It rolled a couple times after losing control and sliding into the ditch. He checked on the driver’s wellbeing before purchasing and repairing the vehicle. He then sold it for a startling profit. The Rufs noticed there was something peculiar about Porsche owners. When Porsche thought the 911 was a dead end and began pushing the 928 on enthusiasts, Ruf Jr. saw his chance. Ruf’s son has a lifelong affinity for 911s.

Despite the 928’s best attempts, the 911 was alive and continued to operate. However, as Ruf notes, the 911 SC and 911 Turbo had a significant price and performance gap. RUF saw an opportunity to build a line of customized 911s, giving wealthy enthusiasts access to the models that Porsche wasn’t already offering. That eventually led to the CTR, also known as the Yellowbird, which put RUF firmly on the map, as well as ever-faster and more potent variants.

This RUF-produced video, which certainly presents the brand favorably, isn’t exaggerating when it says that the film the company made about the CTR, Faszination am Nurburgring, is considered to have been the first car-related viral video. Interviewees describe how they distributed VHS tapes. Even in the early days of the internet, before YouTube, it was a sought-after video shared among astute car buddies. According to RUF, it was only only supposed to be a side project for ardent insiders and owners, and it was never intended to become such a famous touchstone for auto aficionados. Of course, the company’s reputation was destroyed.

However, the company’s reputation had already been greatly enhanced by a famous Road & Track piece in which its overpowered 911 destroyed all rivals in terms of speed, including tuned Ferraris and other various European exotics. A legend was so created. A new generation became aware of the mystique of the company as a result of its inclusion in the Gran Turismo series (Polyphony Digital head Kaz Yamauchi barged into Ruf’s hotel and demanded that the cars be included in the game).

We are aware of what happened afterwards. The 2017 RUF CTR, the related RUF SCR, and perhaps the equally insane RUF Rodeo are the climax of Alois Ruf’s innovations becoming wilder and more divergent from their Porsche beginnings. The updated CTR looks old and is unmistakably a tribute to the Yellowbird, yet it may be the RUF least associated with a Porsche. The monocoque is a custom carbon fiber creation and not at all from a Porsche. It’s possibly the pinnacle of Ruf’s ambition for the business that bears his last name if you understand where he came from and his opposition to technology that lessens the car’s analog feel. A respectable yet unique love letter to the vehicles that he centered his life around. Of course, quite quickly.

And this brief documentary video is certainly worth watching whether you have a strong affection for RUF or are just curious to learn more about the company. Enjoy.

As Ruf walks you through its unmatched history, pay attention.

Although Alois Ruf, Sr. founded Ruf in 1939 as a Porsche service center, it was current Ruf CEO Alois Ruf, Jr. who designed the CTR Yellowbird, which served as the subject of the first viral automotive video “Fascination of the Nurburgring” and the winner of Road & Track’s 1987 “World’s Fastest” shootout. He remains the friendliest person you will ever meet.

The Ruf family quickly realized in the middle of the 1970s that there were more than enough rear-mounted, air-cooled flat-six fans out there to sustain their business even as Porsche was set to discontinue the 911 in favor of its new, V-8-powered 928. Ruf was more than simply a reputable tuner and repair shop; it was also a technological powerhouse that provided the 911 with five- and six-speed gearboxes before Porsche did, in addition to creating and producing a variety of other parts in-house. With all this knowledge, Alois Ruf developed the 945R concept car in 1979. It was a slantnose, twin-turbo vehicle with 450 horsepower that was based on the 935 engine. The CTR prototype rapidly developed from this concept.

This first CTR Yellowbird was one of only 29 produced, each producing 470 horsepower from a Ruf twin-turbo flat-six revving to 7300 rpm. There were no rain gutters to be seen, making it as streamlined as possible. The similarly insane 930-based BTRs and several different Ruf evolutions came after this vehicle.

Being a manufacturer rather than a tuning shop and a VHS sensation, Rufs also made it into the Gran Turismo series, earning a sizable following of players who, since the first few games, have grown old and prosperous enough to buy the real vehicles. Not all Ruf experiments, however, would result in series manufacturing since Ruf, even after the extremely speedy CTR2s and completely irrational CTR3s, was still a little company. Regulations governing emissions forced Ruf to shelve its V-8-powered 911, the R-GT8, while the Model As electric Rufs remained concepts because of other technical constraints. However, Ruf completed its most significant development to date just two years ago: the carbon-fiber tub that serves as the foundation of its unique modular chassis. Ruf can create vehicles entirely from scratch because to this separate structure, which eliminates the need to disassemble and spot-weld 911s.

The Freeman Thomas-designed CTR and SCR pair already makes the most of this Ruf platform, and the workshop is still able to complete a variety of tasks, from restorations to complete bespoke constructions. Numerous coworkers who have worked with Ruf since the 1970s and 1980s still work with him now. Additionally, the business is still conveniently next to the gas station that Alois Ruf, Senior purchased all those years ago and is currently owned by Alois, Estonia, Marcel, and Aloisa Ruf.