In 1987 the RUF CTR “Yellowbird” arrived on the world stage in style.


This story actually starts in 1984. Road & Track magazine had the idea to invite the biggest and best names in Europe to top the speed limits of their top tier sports cars. Volkswagen had graciously offered the use of their massive test track in Ehra-Lessien in Northern Germany. The word had gone out to all the biggest names in the business. The staff at Road & Track had been introduced to RUF stateside when Alois Ruf had brought a RUF Turbo Cabriolet to the offices of Road & Track. With that experience fresh in their minds they thought to invite Alois Ruf and his latest RUF BTR to the event to see what he had to offer. That event opened their eyes to what Alois had to offer, doing so by topping 186.2 mph, topping the next closest car ( a Ferrari 512BB ) by exaction 10 mph.  Alois himself had driven the car to event, and knowing that extremely high speeds were on the menu, had an additional set of tires packed into the car along with him for the long drive up the autobahn from Pfaffenhausen.

Then came 1987. Again, the staff at Road & Track were interested in holding another event. Again, Volkswagen was offering up their test track. And again, RUF was targeted to bring yet another car up from Pfaffenhausen. This year however, they were not bringing a wide-body factory turbocharged 930 as they had previously. Although that exact cars was driven by its proud owner to the event to enjoy the spectacle.  Alois Ruf himself, once again drove the narrow-body RUF CTR to the event. Joined by Joe Huber, his head mechanic. Unlike the BTR of 1984, this new car shunned the wide body flares of the 930 for the more aerodynamic shell of 3.2 Carrera. To further improve the aerodynamics of the car the wing mirrors were replaced with small cups similar in design to the Porsche 935 race cars. Also, and possibly the most extreme modification in terms of aerodynamics was removal of the rain gutters from the body shell. This was an extensive modification and while it would have slightly altered the flex of the body this was overcome handily by the addition of the a roll cage. In addition to the aerodynamic changed to the body, the suspension and brake systems were both modified and improved for the high speed performance this car was now capable of.

The power plant of the CTR was based upon the Carrera 3.2L, but extensively modified for improved performance and longevity to go along with that extreme performance. Now displacing 3.4L and with a turbocharger hanging off each bank of cylinders, the power output was pushed to 469 hp, and an impressive 408 lb-ft of torque. In typical RUF fashion, both power and torque delivery were not peaky, but linear and immense. The thrust produced by this morning seemed to far exceed it’s stated numbers.

When it came to performance, again the RUF car stood alone. Knowing the history of the event and what had happened in 1984, all the top manufacturers held nothing back. They brought their best cars to the event, all with the thought that they would stand alone at the top of the heap and be crowned king of the “worlds fastest cars.” Some cars had some troubles, as ultra-high performance cars tend to do. The weather wasn’t cooperating either, in fact this is how the CTR was honored with it’s nickname. The grey sky was in great contrast to the bright yellow paintwork on the RUF, and the fact that it flew by in a flash. The staff of Road & Track in fact came to start calling it “Yellowbird.”

The test driver for the event was famous F1 driver Phil Hill, and once he began to accelerate down the test track he was astonished by the thrust the car was producing. Each shift up the rear tires would spin and then settle back into place as acceleration continued. As they came off the last long banked turn and accelerated towards the timing lights, the speedo continued to climb. 200, 205, 210..  finally resting at 211mph. Again, not another car could touch the little RUF from Southern Germany. Phil Hill proclaimed “this is the fastest I’ve ever driven in my life!.” They eased back into the pits, the teenage son of one of the attendees pointed and gasped “mit radio!”

The next fastest car was the Koenig R/S at 201 mph, trailed slightly by the Factory Porsche 959 with 198 mph. Alois Ruf was exstatic, the little yellow Porsche had come up against the biggest and best that Europe had to offer, and beat all comers. Joe had dashed out of the event, and returned a short time later with a keg of beer in celebration.

Oh and remember that 1984 BTR from the previous event? It had now a total of 211,000 kms on it, but it ran as well. 187 mph, even faster than it had been the year before!

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