Turbo Thursday: With a Widebody Stance, a RUF Worthy of a Time Capsule Emerges Ahead of Arizona

By Forest Casey
A look ahead to RM Sotheby’s Arizona 2022, as this turbocharged RUF unlocks new levels of performance.

When one considers the current marketplace for tuned, modified, and upgraded 911 models, it is easy to forget that this process of “re-imagining” of classic Porsche sports cars that is so currently en vogue is not at all a new idea. Even from the Stuttgart brand’s earliest days, coachbuilders and engineers endeavored to make the already-excellent products from Porsche even more desirable.

For those who have experienced the best of what Stuttgart has to offer, there exists another German manufacturer operating on perhaps an even higher plane. Elevated, by definition, above Porsche, the sports cars constructed by Alois Ruf in his Pfaffenhausen facility have taken what was already regarded as a performance icon and managed to perfect them further still. Motivating Ruf in his above-and-beyond efforts were a set of clients who were equally passionate about achieving the next level of Porsche power.

1985 Porsche RUF BTR

Estimate: $325,000 - $375,000

Upgrades abounded, representing advancements in technology and materials that perhaps were considered too costly to implement by Porsche in their regular production cars. Finished products proudly wearing RUF badges featured tuned turbochargers, forged alloy wheels, and far more horsepower than their Porsche-branded counterparts. In the 1980s, the time period that this Porsche RUF BTR was completed, a comparable 930 Turbo turned out about 296 horsepower. In contrast, the standard BTR by RUF was rated at 369 horsepower. And in the case of today’s exceptional paint-to-sample Dark Blue-over-Blue example, the prodigious performance was tuned up further still.

With its gorgeous widebody shape, commanding 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, and impossible-to-miss rear wing, certainly the basis for RUF’s efforts on the BTR would be stunning on delivery. Better cooling, upgraded pistons, and revised fuel delivery systems were all standard issue for the chassis lucky enough to be modified by RUF’s skilled technicians. Though each BTR build was essentially bespoke, and there are numerous, subtle differences even between examples of the same model finished in the same year, the differences between the BTR and a Porsche-built 930 coupeare comparatively extreme. The addition of a second fuel injector on every cylinder, derived from DTM motorsport-spec units, helped to better manage fuel delivery, with the second injector becoming activated when the BTR was on-boost. A front-mounted oil cooler and upgraded intercooler system helped this machine run at peak power delivery, something that the Porsche-built model could only dream about.

Possessing a bespoke build guided between its original owner and Alois Ruf himself, this example is still accompanied by a series of handwritten letters, signed under Ruf’s nickname, “Luis.” Fascinating artifacts for any RUF enthusiast, these letters chart the evolution of RUF’s technological advancements even including a hand-drawn sketch of the firm’s modifications to the exhaust manifold to improve the placement of the air flow sensor. Even more fascinating is the original owners wanted to modify their RUF to be even faster soon after collecting delivery, as communicated in a fax to Ruf in 1991, requesting this example return to RUF for Stage III upgrades. This dedication to driving is communicated in the fax, stating the owners, “will be driving this car on the race track as well as on the street,” and wished to have a suitably capable engine.

While some RUF-built interiors were more focused on delivering the lightest possible experience as opposed to allowing for even the most basic of creature comforts, this example is luxuriously appointed with a radio, power seats in code 99 (color-matching the leather seats to this example’s paint-to-sample exterior), and the all-important accessory for modern usability, air conditioning.

That is not to say that there were no significant additions to the interior experience. For a start, RUF gauges give drivers maximum visibility and a boost gauge built-in to the main instrument cluster. A notable alteration to the speedometer increases its maximum speed to an impressive 210 mph. Instead of the four-speed transmission that typically accompanied a first-generation Porsche 930, this example advanced from a four-speed Stage I build, first to a five-speed Stage II, finally achieving its current six-speed, Stage III status—all added with guidance from Mr. Ruf himself.

The other immediately noticeable addition to the interior of this RUF-constructed example is a boost pressure (or “Ladedruck”) dial, placed prominently between the two front seats, tempting skilled drivers to turn up the power, if so desired. Evan Shone and Roger Willbanks, the talented consigning specialists who discovered this special example, sampled this RUF at minimal boost and still were impressed with its power delivery and noted that the handing was exceptional. True to its original owner’s wishes, “It's also very comfortable and easy to drive at low speed, city-type driving,” Shone reports.

Zooming out, one can see the sum of these overall modifications adding up to a serious car for Porsche collectors and driving enthusiasts alike. Showing only 43,439 miles on its odometer at the time of cataloging, this RUF-tuned Porsche is worthy of preserving in a time capsule to display what the peak of 1980s, 911-based driving could be like. And unlike those models famously re-imagined by Singer, Gunther Werks, and others, this example is already completed, and bears the respectable name of Alois Ruf, which has stood the test of time. Interested parties do not need to add their name to a years-long waitlist, but rather only look forward to 27 January 2022 when this example crosses the block at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction at the Biltmore Hotel.

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