RUF – The Limited Edition

Parallel to the gigantic trend in model cars (if the current 1/8th scale models don’t have to be called ‘sculptures’), there is also a flourishing of extensive, in-depth and opulently equipped monographs and type and model series histories in Porsche literature. Now spring has arrived in the orchid garden: Bart Lenaerts, author and publisher, presents a two-volume work about the RUF manufactory, closely associated with the Porsche brand and yet always independent in every respect. RUF is often referred to as a “tuner”, which negates the fact that it was granted manufacturer status by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority as early as 1981, because after initially attempts at detail optimization and refinement of Porsche production vehicles, Alois Ruf and his small team of excellent specialists came up with ever more in-depth modifications and increasingly self-designed parts and assemblies.

Lenaerts designed his book in two volumes: Volume one, entitled “Alois and friends”, is the biography of the company and its owner in the form of an annual chronicle. Each chapter opens with a double-page title, designed and typographed by Art Director Tom Hautekiet in a manner typical of the time. The author tells the story of the company’s foundation by Ruf’s father in the post-war years, in small steps and with meticulous attention to detail. It is ‘narrated’ because Lennaerts had very direct access to Alois Ruf and instead of a series of facts, he presents a conclusive and enlightening story of daring, inventiveness, unconventional ideas and their (almost always) successful implementation, rounded off by numerous original quotations from Mr. Ruf. The work doesn’t leave out any side path, no matter how small, and the author also presents in detail even waypoints completely unknown to the aficionado.

Who would have thought that in the dialogue with decision-makers at Porsche AG in the 1990s there would almost have been a back-to-basics version of the 964 based on the purism of the original 911T? Or that in 1983, under project code R945, far-reaching considerations were made for a vehicle whose innovativeness would have anticipated the 959 in some respects? In 2004, the idea was taken up in a modified form with the R50 prototype, only to mature into the CTR3 presented in 2007.

Volume two is called “Yellowbird and friends” and is the chronological catalog raisonné. All (small) production vehicles are listed in detail and with a technical overview. The content, craftmanship and style of this first-class work is in keeping with its high standard and contains an incredible amount of rare images. Lenaerts was probably allowed to wring out the entire company archive. The reviewer is well aware that he is recommending a high-priced work here, but this pioneering work (the publishing courage to tackle such a ‘pointed’ topic so comprehensively cannot be overestimated) is worth (more than) every single cent as a source of facts and reading pleasure. As a little extra, the daytime driving rings of the headlights on the cover glow in the dark.

Images: RUF