In­side Ruf

A cer­ti­fied au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­turer in its own right, To­tal 911 vis­its Ruf Au­to­mo­bile to see how the com­pany’s glo­ri­ous past is shap­ing its ex­cit­ing fu­ture

Total 911 - - Contents - Writ­ten by lee Si­b­ley Pho­tog­ra­phy by Rich Pearce

Ruf opens its doors to show why it’s still the lead­ing man­u­fac­turer of ex­otic flat six sports cars out­side Zuf­fen­hausen

Ruf­platz, Pfaf­fen­hausen. A round­about in the mid­dle gen­tly guides lo­cal traf­fic in an anti-clock­wise fash­ion, the build­ings around the out­side play­ing home to an au­to­mo­tive show­room, ser­vice cen­tre, main pro­duc­tion fac­tory, panel beat­ers and paint shop be­long­ing to one of the world’s most renowned car brands.

Sound fa­mil­iar? The set-up is not too dis­sim­i­lar to that at Porschep­latz some 180 kilo­me­tres away, yet Ruf­platz, like the Ruf Au­to­mo­bile com­pany it­self, has al­ways liked to do things its own way. Founded in 1939 by

Alois Ruf Sr, ‘Auto Ruf’ was orig­i­nally a gen­eral ve­hi­cle re­pairer. Alois Ruf Jr ar­rived in Jan­uary 1950 and im­mersed him­self in his fa­ther’s busi­ness as he grew up, though it took a bizarre ac­ci­dent for Ruf as a com­pany to be­come in­volved with Porsche ve­hi­cles. “My grand­fa­ther was driv­ing his bus when a Porsche 356 Kar­mann shot past,” says Mar­cel Ruf, third gen­er­a­tion of the Ruf fam­ily dynasty. “The driver lost con­trol dur­ing his at­tempt at pass­ing and put the 356 in a ditch, rolling it twice. My grand­fa­ther stopped to check he was okay and ex­plained he owned a garage who could re­pair the car. A few days later he ended up buy­ing it as sal­vage. Once re­paired, he was driv­ing the 356 through Mu­nich when a man stopped him and my fa­ther at some traf­fic lights and of­fered to buy the car. A deal was done, and my grand­fa­ther re­alised he was on to some­thing: for years he had been deal­ing with cus­tomers who of­fered trade-ins or wanted to hag­gle for cars, and yet here was a guy who wanted to pay good money for the car at the side of the road!”

From that mo­ment on, Ruf be­came in­ter­twined with Porsche cars, en­thu­si­asts of the 911 turn­ing to Pfaf­fen­hausen for per­for­mance up­grades in the 1970s as Porsche hes­i­tated in its de­vel­op­ment of the Ne­unelfer. “In 1978 the 911 SC was de­tuned at 180hp. Our cars were ca­pa­ble of 230hp,” Mar­cel says, clearly proud of his fam­ily’s past achieve­ments.

The cul­mi­na­tion of this came in 1981 when the Ger­man Fed­eral Mo­tor Trans­port Author­ity recog­nised Ruf as a ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer in its own right, some­thing which has sep­a­rated the com­pany quite spec­tac­u­larly from its ri­vals in the tun­ing sec­tor ever since. By 1983, the first sports car with a Ruf chas­sis num­ber was born in the Ruf BTR, a tur­bocharged car with 374hp and, sig­nif­i­cantly, a fivespeed gear­box. Porsche mean­while would con­tinue to use a four-speed gear­box on its 911 Tur­bos for another six years.

Ruf’s sem­i­nal mo­ment came in 1987 at the Nür­bur­gring with that video of Stephan Roser

“Ruf re­mains a fam­ily-run busi­ness, spear­headed by Alois and his wife Es­to­nia, while son Mar­cel over­sees day-to-day op­er­a­tions”

danc­ing the Ruf CTR ‘Yel­low­bird’ at speed through the haz­ardous Green Hell. Later post­ing a mon­u­men­tal top speed of 342kph against its ri­vals for a mag­a­zine test at Nardo, Italy, the Ruf Yel­low­bird was duly crowned the world’s fastest pro­duc­tion road car for 1987.

Iconic cre­ations with won­der­fully acronymed names such as the Turbo R, RCT and RGT have all fol­lowed since, each one a breath­tak­ing and of­ten record-break­ing feat of au­to­mo­tive engi­neer­ing. Even in our con­tem­po­rary world where spe­cial­ists clam­ber to of­fer back­dates of the Singer-in­spired va­ri­ety, Ruf still re­mains wholly rel­e­vant to an au­di­ence as loyal as it is large, as proven by the re­lease last year of the all-new CTR 2017. A 30-year cel­e­bra­tion of that first Yel­low­bird, it came equipped with a mon­strous 700hp and a mere 1,200kg mass. Un­be­liev­ably, it sold out within a week.

Pleas­ingly, de­spite such pro­longed growth and con­tin­ued suc­cess, Ruf re­mains a fam­ily-run busi­ness, spear­headed by Alois and his wife Es­to­nia, while son Mar­cel over­sees day-to-day op­er­a­tions. It is Mar­cel who takes us for a tour, in­form­ing us the com­pany has some 60 em­ploy­ees at Ruf­platz, with an im­pres­sive 30 hand-built cars rolling out of the fac­tory each year – more than one a fort­night.

Step­ping onto the fac­tory floor it­self re­minds us of more tra­di­tional times up the road at Porsche. There’s no mov­ing pro­duc­tion line, em­ploy­ees in­stead busy work­ing around in­di­vid­ual cars wear­ing braced over­alls in the cus­tom­ary dark green of Ruf. Ev­ery­thing at Ruf is hand built, so there are no ro­bot arms whizzing pan­els and com­po­nents from one sta­tion to the next. It’s a breath of fresh air and goes some way to ex­plain­ing how Ruf can of­fer an un­ri­valled at­ten­tion to de­tail in so many as­pects of its builds.

Ruf en­joys a close re­la­tion­ship with Porsche, the ex­tent of this be­ing the open­ing of a Porsche Ser­vice Cen­tre on Ruf­platz some nine years ago. It means the com­pany can over­see the care and main­te­nance of fac­tory Porsche cars as well as its own. “It’s good for ev­ery­body,” Mar­cel says as we take a look at both new and old 911s grac­ing the ramps.

Ruf is proud to be a man­u­fac­turer in its own right though, the fruits of which can be found with both the CTR and re­cently re­vealed SCR, which uses a car­bon-mono­coque chas­sis for the first time. It’s a huge in­vest­ment for a com­pany of this size, but there are plans to use the chas­sis as a base for other projects go­ing for­ward.

As well as its SCR, built to com­mem­o­rate 40 years since the birth of the orig­i­nal SCR in 1978,

Ruf has worked hard on the evo­lu­tion of its first Yel­low­bird as we’ve pre­vi­ously men­tioned. Very much a mod­ern-day take of the orig­i­nal, the CTR 2017 has a 7cm-longer wheel­base than the Eight­ies car, de­spite its over­all length be­ing the same. The car is 3cm wider each side, no­tice­able at the base of ei­ther side of the wind­screen, while an ex­tra 2cm of body has been added to ei­ther side of the front bon­net. “Its ap­pear­ance is more mus­cu­lar,” Mar­cel him­self says. “It’s as if the CTR has been to the gym.”

Pro­duc­tion of both these breath­tak­ing cars is al­ready in earnest, mak­ing Ruf an ever-more busy and ex­cit­ing place to be. The com­pany will cel­e­brate its 80th birth­day next year, a quite re­mark­able achieve­ment for a com­pany used to cre­at­ing, well, the re­mark­able.

Above CTR ’17 sits on the ramps in front of CTR chas­sis one

CLOCK­WISE from top Ruf con­verted a 997 to elec­tric power back in 2009; Ruf test bench has G-se­ries di­als; staff hard at work on the work­shop floor; Mar­cel and fa­ther Alois with the SCR pro­to­type; Ruf paint shop in ac­tion; CTR-3 at rest

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.