Monday, September 21, 2009

RUF Automobiles

From my last article, I spoke of a few boutique aftermarket tuning companies where their car hold their value the same or better than their stock counterparts.

Founded in 1939, RUF Automobile GmbH specializes in taking unmarked Porsche chassis, brand new Porsche fresh off the dealer lot, or used Porsches, stripping them down to the bare chassis, and rebuilding them the way they should have been in the first place.  The result is a "Porsche" capable of 200+ mph pushing at or over 700 hp.  Many times, because of the heavy modification and re-manufacturing process, the vehicles emerge from the factory with RUF VIN numbers.  RUF automobile is classified by the German government as a boutique manufacturer.

History aside, these are some of my favorite cars.  I remember in past Road & Track and Car & Driver super car/ super tuner showdowns, The RUF vehicles are the only ones that arrives to the track without a support team or pit crew.  Sometimes for these events, RUF may request the use of one of their customer cars local to the area.  On top of that, they usually win the event.  Long story short, RUF has a reputation of consistently producing high horsepower, high speed, well handing, yet reliable super cars.

One of my favorite cars as a high school student was their "CTR Yellowbird"  -- combination of my favorite Porsche body style of all time (the 993) along with the RUF magic touch.  Unfortunately, my tastes have changed a bit since high school.  Either that or I never payed attention to the rear of the car.  Not sure if I still think it's cool to drive a car that sports a double-decker rear wing.  In RUF's defense, it is functional.

Don't worry, I have not abandoned my dream of one day owning a RUF.  Instead, I am much more interested in a more conservative, and thankfully more reasonably priced example of a RUF automobile.  $270,000 USD for the Yelllowbird vs. the $90,000 USD 993 BTR.  Keep in mind both of these cars are USED, and made in the mid-1990s.  Still, $90,000 USD is a lot of money to put down for a car.

The 993 BTR has an understated elegance that I just cannot eloquently put into words.  In line with my personal preference, the BTR has minimal and tasteful exterior modifications but heavily reworked engine (420 bhp vs. the stock 280 bhp) and suspension upgrades.  The rear of the vehicle still has the signature "whale tail" that the old Porsches are known for, but gone are the "double-decker" shopping cart wings from the Yellowbird.  I'm sure those "double-decker" wings do come in handy when I'm traveling down the Autobahn over 200 mph, but I'll take my chances without one and just remember to keep my speed around the legal "suggested" limits.

One thing I don't like about the BTR are the doors.  I can understand RUF wanted to save weight -- but seriously now, nylon straps for door handles?  I think I would rather loose a couple pounds so I can keep the stock "real" door handles.

End of the day, I would probably be happy with a Porsche, and be even happier if the Porsche was re-worked by RUF.

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