What is it?
I can remember reading an observation made by one amazed early reviewer of the McLaren F1.
He’d discovered that when sixth gear was selected at almost 200mph and the V12’s throttle bodies were subsequently prised back open, the car properly surged forth.
There’s no shortage of confounding facts about the greatest supercar ever made, but I never got my head around that one. How was the Mac capable of generating so much thrust just at the point the body of air ahead of it would be solidifying into a wall? I also found it difficult to imagine the synaptic hit and adrenaline rush the driver must have enjoyed.
But then Autocar secured some time in what’s known as the CTR Anniversary – the car currently being hand-assembled by Ruf in Pfaffenhausen at a rate of three examples per month. Only 50 will exist and the price is prohibitive, but when you’re talking about what is still the most respected third-party Porsche tuner in what is an increasingly saturated market, new projects are impossible to ignore.
It’s a curious thing, the CTR – a real departure from Ruf’s usual approach of modifying Porsches both historic and new for wildly fast but finessed road driving. For one thing, aside from the Hans Mezger-designed block for the 3.6-litre flat six, there’s very little Porsche in it. Not even the chassis. And as for the Anniversary bit, along with the Blossom Yellow paint job, five-spoke wheels and the bodywork, it merely references the original Ruf CTR Yellowbird, which in 1987 was the fastest road car on the planet, capable of 213mph.
Over the years, we’ve also seen the 993-based 520bhp CTR2 and mid-engined CTR3, whose spaceship form and 691bhp made it an alternative to the Ferrari Enzo and Pagani Zonda. But neither the CTR2 nor the CTR3 sought to revive the spirit of the Yellowbird, as this new CTR does – and in fairness, Ruf’s timing could hardly be better. The current fetishisation of all things retro-911 shows no sign of letting up, so why not join in?
Not that there is anything especially retro about the hardware beneath the cartoonishly smooth, fully carbonfibre body, which was styled by Freeman Thomas of original Audi TT fame.
For one thing, the CTR is built around Ruf’s new proprietary carbonfibre tub, developed at a cost of around €10 million. It’s made by Gerg, which has experience in DTM and at the very highest level in the WEC. To this are affixed steel subframes that support double-wishbone suspension controlled by ‘active’ pushrod-operated Tractive Autosport dampers that can manipulate pitch, squat and roll movements on the fly. It’s all fully adjustable and beautifully finished, with some whimsical touches, such as the spring casings, which are coloured Ruf’s familiar forest green.