CTR 'Yellowbird'

In 1989 RUF test driver Stefan Roser drove the CTR around the Nürburgring. The laps were captured on camera and released by Ruf in a groundbreaking, enthralling, and influential video titled "Faszination on the Nürburgring"

The CTR 'Yellowbird' is undoubtedly one of the most famous cars ever made. It changed the supercar landscape dramatically in the late 1980's.

 

The following article is the from the November 2013 issue of Car and Driver Magazine:

"Frayed around the edges, its bright-yellow paintwork chipped and crazed and covered in insect corpses, the Porsche is parked among modified 911's from all eras. To many, it would appear to be just another 911 worked over by one of any number of tuners and tinkerers you’ll find all over Germany. But we’d argue that this is the iconic tuned 911. Even at first glance, it looks as exotic as any supercar that came before or after it. And the strangest bit about this story is that this tiny, narrow-hipped 911 isn’t actually a Porsche at all. This is the Ruf CTR, one of just 29 made, but you may know it simply as the “Yellowbird.”

For those who think Sesame Street when they hear the name, here’s a brief synopsis: In 1974, Alois Ruf took over his father’s enterprise, Ruf Auto, a successful bus-manufacturing firm. But young Alois was more interested in sports cars, specifically the 911. By 1977, Ruf had built a reputation for adding power to the then-new 930 Turbo. Since Porsche offered Turbos with only a four-speed transmission, Ruf built its own five-speed gearbox in 1981. The same year, German law recognised Ruf as more than just a Porsche tuner; the company was redesignated a manufacturer.

What made Ruf a star was its participation in Road & Track’s top-speed shootout in 1987. Ruf brought its new model, the CTR (Group C Turbo Ruf), to Volkswagen’s test track at Ehra-Lessien, Germany. There, a rather ordinary-looking 911 (except for its yellow paint) murdered all comers by topping 211 mph. Photographer John Lamm, now a member of our staff, was on-site and christened the car “Yellowbird.” On its way to that outrageous top speed, the CTR recorded zero-to-100 mph in 7.3 seconds. The modified, 211-mph CTR put Ruf on the map. 

Today, the unassuming (well, except for the fact that it’s yellow) 911 with its 3.2 ­Carrera shell - narrowed, shorn of rain gutters, and fitted with a single 935-style side mirror, all for aerodynamics - is warmed-up and the key sits waiting in the ignition. NACA ducts cut into the fiberglass rear fenders feed the 3.4-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six, and a subtly wider Turbo-style tea-tray spoiler adds high-speed stability. This is the very car that did 211-plus mph and starred in ­Faszination, a video Ruf made in the late 80's of the CTR sliding around the Nürburgring. It’s the Debbie Does Dallas of car videos - groundbreaking, enthralling, and influential

Inside, it’s old-school 911 with a stripped-back RS-style twist. Like all air-cooled 911s, it feels narrow and upright, and the floor-hinged pedals are a little awkward. It sounds fairly ordinary when it fires up. There’s a busyness to the sound, but no hint that 469 horsepower and 408 pound-feet are hanging out behind the rear wheels. Ruf claims that it weighs just 2579 pounds, which would give the CTR a better power-to-weight ratio than the 2014 911 Turbo S.

Off boost, the CTR is as easy to drive as any 3.2 Carrera, but it feels lighter and more nimble, and the chassis is much more solid thanks to the roll cage. The five-speed transmission has long throws and requires deliberation and practice. But as with manual steering, there’s something special and ­nostalgic about a dogleg ’box. Fidgety steering and the noise of the KKK turbos gathering force and then dying away put you in tune with the machinery, but nothing prepares you for the big hit. 

The turbos arrive with all the subtlety of an IED and send the Yellowbird hurtling with frightening force. When the rear suspension squats during hard acceleration, you’re suddenly looking skyward. Incredibly, the rear tyres manage to cope with the aggression, and you get the feeling that the 469hp claim might be modest; insiders admit that 550 horsepower might be more accurate. Suffice to say, it is quite easy to get it sideways under power.

Alois Ruf wanted to create something with prototype-racer levels of performance, but in an understated, usable package. He nailed it."

RUF Automobile UK

85 High Street 

Tunbridge Wells

Kent

TN1 1XP

 

T:  0044 (0) 1892 506911

M: 0044 (0) 7894 501457

 

info@RUFAutomobile.co.uk

www.RUFAutomobile.co.uk

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