MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA ANNOUNCES PROJECT SANDBOX WITH RUF INPUT
Two iconic families from the Porsche tuning scene are teaming up for a fresh collaboration — just as Uwe Gemballa successfully partnered with Alois Ruf Jr for development of the engines powering his exclusive 911based sports cars in the 1980s, the Gemballa and Ruf names are again set to make history together in the wake of a new project spearheaded by Uwe’s son, Marc Philipp, marking the 27-year-old’s first project and a new era of Gemballa design exactly ten years after his father‘s passing.
After completing his degree in business studies at EBS University of Economics and Law, Marc Philipp gained professional expertise in the automotive industry, working for various sports car manufacturers, including Aston Martin, Mercedes-benz and Porsche. His collaboration with RUF Automobile begins with a unique off-road supercar inspired by the legendary 959s which tackled the punishing Paris-dakar rally. Currently camouflaged under the name Project Sandbox and hinted at only in the form of conceptual sketches, the car is being developed with the current-generation 911 Turbo S serving as the starting point.
The engine upgrade (labelled with the iconic strapline, powered by RUF) is already in progress and enables the six-cylinder boxer to deliver 740bhp and a massive 686lb-ft torque. “Despite the enormous power reserves, the engine complies with the latest EURO 6 emissions regulations and has been subject to the strictest WLTP and RDE tests,” explains Moritz Renner, Technical Director at the newly formed MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA Gmbh (MPG), which is distinct from Gemballa Gmbh, the company founded by Marc’s late father.
It’s thought forty of these bespoke off-road 992-based beasts will be assembled, though eventual production volume may increase beyond that figure if demand exceeds expectation. Considering MPG has already sold the ten exclusive ‘launch edition’ models, an increased number of Project Sandbox builds seems likely.
Besides being offered in this new all-terrain Porsche-based build, the high-output RUF engine upgrade is being made available for owners of standard 992 Turbo or Turbo S models as part of a further round of offerings between the Pfaffenhausen concern and MPG. A slightly detuned ‘series production’ version of the upgrade is also being pitched.
“Working with my father’s trusted business partners on my new venture makes perfect sense,” Marc Philipp told us. “Many of them rank among today’s leading suppliers in the automotive industry and, in addition to their decades of experience with Porsche, they know the standards my new company strives for — they perfectly understand what matters. My father trusted their technical expertise as well as their highquality standards of workmanship and, of course, the proven working methods of Alois Ruf Jr. Consequently, the choice to partner with RUF Automobile for Project Sandbox engine development was an obvious decision. I’m pleased that our families can continue this very special friendship and partnership.” Alois Ruf Jr echoes the sentiment. “With the great vehicles of Uwe Gemballa, I associate the courageous, radical and uncompromising expression of driving pleasure. I look forward to working with his son, Marc Philipp, in this exciting new chapter in the Gemballa family’s story.”
Growing up in an environment where building the fastest and most powerful production car on the planet and setting the next Nürburgring world record was key, Marc Phillip knows a thing or two about how to design an attention-grabbing sports car, but a decade after his father passed away, the tuning scene has changed dramatically. For a start, the horsepower wars are over (has anyone yet complained the 992
Turbo S is lacking in performance?!), tuning is often carried out by OEM manufacturers and the market is constantly being flooded with an influx of new supercars with hyped-up horsepower figures. Does any of this bother Marc Philipp? “I quickly realised that when aiming to build a successful company with a bright future and a long-lasting legacy, as opposed to one simply tossing the next headline-grabbing big-bhp build into the aftermarket, I needed to come up with something very special for the clients I want to attract. MPG is aiming squarely at a new market opportunity in the creation of specially designed, classic-inspired Porsche-based vehicles with low production volume. Obviously, the idea is inspired by the core of my father‘s success, creating fresh design with a technology-focused approach, but I’m leaving yesterday’s era of pursuing the biggest performance figures in the past. I want to develop a USP in a crowded marketplace. Project Sandbox is the first step in achieving my goal.”
More than two years of development has resulted in the young entrepreneur’s first project: an ultra-modern, 959-influenced supercar with off-road abilities, taking the form of a hybrid between a modern-day sports car (complete with comfort and day-to-day practicality) and an off-roader capable of equipping owners with performance and reliability through the application of cutting-edge automotive technologies. Essentially, MPG is taking the extreme from on-road to off-road.
Supported by a worldwide network of dealers and the business partners of Marc Philipp’s father, MPG begins a new era for the
Gemballa family, with selected partners including automotive designer and Porsche fanatic, Alan Derosier, suspension technology specialist, KW, tyre manufacturer, Michelin, exhaust system specialist, Akrapovič, lightweight vehicle design and construction specialist, VELA, mechanical design and thermal insulation firm, KLK Motorsport, the brand and marketing agency, Staud Studio and, of course, RUF Automobile.
Uwe Gemballa created the 930 Flachbau-based Avalanche (coupe) and the Cyrrus (convertible), as well as the later Mirage, featuring wide body kits, side strakes (similar to a Ferrari Testarossa), upgraded wheels, extremely powerful RUF engines, bespoke interiors, custom paintwork and cameras in place of door mirrors. We look forward to seeing Marc Philipp’s continuation of his father’s ground-breaking work.