How Ruf Went From Small Repair Shop To Performance Car Royalty

A new documentary from Ruf chronicles its journey from humble origins to an iconic brand renown for its work with Porsches

Remind me later

If you’re a certain age, it’s likely you first found out about Ruf via the medium of video games. Up until quite recently, Porsche had an exclusive licensing deal with EA, so if a different publisher wanted a 911 in its game, it turned to the products of Ruf as a sort-of loophole.

Even before that, though, Ruf had a justifiably lofty reputation in the performance car world. There were two big drivers of this - ‘Faszination on the Nürburgring’, an iconic short film which was effectively one of the first ‘viral’ car videos, and a 1987 article in Road & Track.

The latter was a group test held at the Ehra-Lessien VW test facility, where the bonkers CTR took the fight to some of the biggest supercar names of the 1980s while picking up its ‘Yellow Bird’ nickname. At this point, however, the company had - as explained in this engrossing new documentary from Ruf - been kicking around a while.

Modern Ruf products like the SCR are built on bespoke platforms and made to look like classic 911s
Modern Ruf products like the SCR are built on bespoke platforms and made to look like classic 911s

The firm can be traced all the way back to the Pfaffenhaused-based ‘Auto Ruf’ repair shop set up by Alois Ruf Senior in 1939. Alois Ruf Junior became involved in the business when he was old enough, soon turning his attention to servicing and repairing Porsches. This became the company’s focus following the death of Ruf Senior, with his son electing to build his first heavily modified 911 - a 930 - as a response to Porsche’s supposed intention for the front-engined 928 to replace its much-loved sports car.

As we now know, that never happened, but it didn’t half Ruf’s rise to greatness with the CTR and its increasingly unhinged successors. Today, the company has pivoted somewhat, producing 911-inspired vehicles on bespoke carbon platforms rather than modifying Porsche’s products. Regardless, the ethos of the cars remain much the same.