In Luc Besson’s iconic movie ‘The Fifth Element’ a strand of alien DNA is used to create Leeloo, a humanoid imbued with the power to help save the world.
DNA is one of the most important forces of nature and is what makes all living things what they are, handing down important markers from generation to generation. Used properly, it is also a vital strand in the lineage of a great automobile brand.
That was the rational behind the Ruf CTR 2017, or CTR4 as it is widely known, the 30th Anniversary celebration of the original CTR ‘Yellow Bird’. While the CTR2 and CTR3 had clearly gone down a path of evolution in the hunt for even greater performance, Alois Ruf decided that the CTR4 should be a return to roots, a visual homage to the original, even if every last nut and bolt, as well as the materials used in its construction are different.
To achieve this, the basic concept of the original Yellow Bird was maintained, so the CTR 2017 is also a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive supercar powered by a Ruf-engineered twin-turbo flat-six engine. This time, of course, the engine is water-cooled and delivers nearly 50 percent more power than the original CTR.
Symmetry occurs in nature and makes a lot of sense in engineering too. Thus one turbocharger per cylinder bank makes far more sense for a flat six or V8 motor than just one for both.
Porsche used one turbo per cylinder bank on their Group C racecar motors at the time when their road going 930 Turbo had just one in Group B style. Alois Ruf noted this and applied Group C twin-turbo technology to the CTR (Group C, Turbo, Ruf) of 1987. Apart from its neater pipework, the symmetry of this twin turbo, twin-intercooler installation dramatically raised the output potential of the engine.
Fuelling was another issue, and the Bosch KE-Jetronic system was already on the limit with the 385hp Ruf BTR (Group B, Turbo, Ruf). In another pioneering step Ruf adopted the Bosch Motronic system for the CTR, along with the ignition system from the Porsche 962 Group C racecar. And so a legend was born.
The Ruf CTR was officially registered with the German TUV authorities as having 469hp. But as Ruf is always conservative with numbers this was a minimum figure, and in practice every CTR left the factory with at least 500hp. In a car weighing just 1,150kg this made for a world beating power-to-weight ratio and outstanding performance.
Back in the 1980s breaching the magic (322km/h) 200mph barrier in a production road car was a rare event. So when Road & Track magazine ran their top speed shootout at VW’s Ehra-Lessien high speed test facility in 1987 with the fastest supercars in the world, including Porsche’s 959 Sport, no-one quite knew what to expect.
The CTR ‘Yellow Bird’ topped out at (340km/h) 211.5mph on the day, stunning the automobile world with the knowledge that a pint-sized manufacturer from Bavaria had wiped the floor with the likes of AMG, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. In a subsequent test at Nardo the Yellow Bird was credited with (342km/h) 213mph.
Fast forward to May 2018, and I am approaching the CTR4 for the third time, and today I am going to actually drive it. First I do a walk around so that Alois can explain the exterior design. “The cabin of a newer 911 is not much roomier than the older cars but the exterior has become much bigger,” he says.
Like the Ruf SCR, the CTR4 has a wheelbase 70mm longer than a 993s for improved high-speed stability. The front axle and wheel housings are 20mm further forward while the rear axle and wheel housings are 50mm further aft. The doors are 25mm longer and the car now has the same wheelbase as a 997 Carrera within an unchanged overall length.
The overall re-proportioning sees the headlamps moved 20mm further up in the shell, which changes the shape of the front wings. At the rear the taillights are 40mm longer on each side and the shape of the rear arch flares gives the car more shoulder. “Most people don’t see the exact changes when they look at the car since it has an amazing planted stance that draws your attention to the shoulder line, wheel arches and big wheels first,” says Alois.
“The original CTR has such an iconic shape it was important that we didn’t harm it, so we set out to re-interpret it in a modern way that preserves its essence,” he continued. “It was also important to be true to the materials used and as soon as you open the door you can see that the CTR4 is made from carbon-fibre.”
As you would expect, Ruf has used the latest lighting technology with LEDs front and rear and a simple LED perimeter for the daytime running lights that highlights the iconic 911 headlamp shape. The turn signals are also LED and light up in sequence from inside to out to highlight the direction you are turning.