Curbside Classic: 1995 Ruf BTR-2 – No, It’s Not A Porsche.

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So I’m walking home during peak hour and ahead of me – amongst the cars sitting bumper to bumper – I could see a Porsche 993 Turbo S. Or could I? As I approach from behind I’m reading a number plate with the letters R U and F within it. Nah, it couldn’t be. I walk past the car and two small grilles in the front bumper panel stop me cold. I motion the driver to (kindly) wind down his window. “Is that really a…” The driver completes my sentence. “Ruf? Yes.’

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Ruf acheived total legend status with the 1987 CTR Yellowbird.

The Group C Turbo Ruf was an insane 469 bhp twin-turbo road-registerable bahnstormer capable of reaching 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Its top speed 211 mph (340 kmh) was higher than that of the Ferrari F40 and Porsche’s own supercar, the AWD 959, making the Ruf Yellowbird the fastest production car in the world. Ever. At the time.

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In 1939, Alois Ruf, Sr. opened a business in Mindelheimer Strasse in the small southern German town of Pfaffenhausen. Initially a service garage, by 1949 Alois (pictured) had added a petrol station to his concern. His commercial projects included a VW Beetle with a reduced engine capacity that became popular in his region with Germans still feeling the bite of postwar austerity and a tourist bus designed and built in 1955. By the early 1960s Auto Ruf was also selling Fiats and BMWs.

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Auto Ruf also serviced and restored Porsches. Alois Ruf, Jr – apprenticed to his father – developed a first-hand knowledge and love for the 356s and (eventually) the 911s that came through his father’s garage. In 1974, Alois Senior died and the business was left in the hands of his 24 year old sporting car enthusiast son. By 1975 Ruf was offering performance parts for the Porsche 911 and in 1977 the first Ruf 3.3 Turbo was released featuring an enlarged piston version of the 3.0 litre Porsche 930 – a year before Porsche were to do it themselves.

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In 1981 Ruf Automobile GmbH received a Manufacturer’s Certification from the German Federal Vehicle Offices. In 1987. Ruf also became an approved manufacturer recognised in the US by the NHSTA (safety) and EPA (emissions) authorities. In short, Ruf cars were no longer Porsches, they were Rufs with their own VIN designation. Ruf essentially took a Porsche shell and did their own thing.

They also continued to tweak Porsches for customers, so now you could own a Ruf-modified Porsche…

Or you could own a Ruf.

Here is 16-odd minutes of Ruf driver Stefan Roser flinging a Yellowbird CTR around the Nurburgring.

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In 1993, Porsche launched the final generation of its air-cooled 911 models; the gorgeous Type 993. Prior to 1995, it was only available as a Carrera, albeit in RWD or AWD form and as a coupe or cabriolet. The proliferation of 993 models was still to occur.

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With no turbo Porsche yet available from the factory, Ruf appeased sucker fans with the BTR-2.

The 1983-1993 BTR (Group B Turbo Ruf) had been the first Ruf model released under their status as manufacturer. In contrast to the later more powerful CTR, the BTR featured a single turbocharger. But like the CTR, it was based on the lighter-weight Carrera. The 1993-onwards BTR-2 was Ruf’s single turbo model dressed in a 993 suit.

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You’re looking at a 1995 Ruf VIN BTR-2. One of 18 made worldwide, one of only 5 RHD and first delivered to Malaysia in its distinctive Riviera Blue. It found its way into the current owner’s hands under bittersweet circumstances, but he has thoroughly appreciated the opportunity. His previous car was an R35 GTR which he loved, but he is in thrall with the untamed RWD turbolag characteristics of this car. And it is totally docile in traffic.

By 1995 you could get a Porsche 993 Turbo, but it was AWD. And for some people, controlling the tail is all the fun with a 911.

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420 bhp (313kW) gave the BTR-2 a top speed of 191mph (307kmh) and a 0-100kmh time of 4.1 seconds. The engine was much modified from its Porsche origins. New pistons, camshafts, injectors and a remapped Bosch Motronic CPU accommodated a K27 turbo operating at 11.6psi of boost. Compression had been reduced from the Carrera’s standard 11.3:1 to 8.4:1 to help the engine cope with the extra output and a lighter weight, freer flowing exhaust completed the process.

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Brakes are four-pot calipers, 320mm front and 300mm rear. Wheels were Ruf’s distinctive five spoke design, 18×8.5 inches at the front and 18×10 inches at the rear. The car was dropped 30mm and stiffer anti-roll bars were fitted. More bracing across the strut towers tightened up the front end. Deeper bumpers were used front and rear.

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Through it history Ruf seems to have presaged the actions of Porsche. The tail of the BTR-2 would be one of those occasions. That deep tail cavity housed a larger intercooler. Apparently Ruf provided the metrics on the downforces with this tail to Porsche and they ended up using something similar on the 993 Turbo S. The twin nose grilles also appeared later on the 996 GT2.

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This Ruf shares duties with a BMW 325. The owner needs to move around Melbourne during the working day, so he semi-regularly exploits the great suburban driving between peak hours in this. But his profession also requires a level of decorum, and this Ruf is completely unruffled at parking lots speeds. If you happen to chance upon him enjoying his ride, give him a greeting. He’s the sort of curbside classicist who loves a chat about his car.

Further Reading

Porsche 356B

Porsche 911

Porsche 911 964

Porsche 911 996

E21 Alpina B6 2.8

Mercedes 450SEL 6.9