We’ve heard about it, and we saw it at the Geneva Motor Show. But to fully understand the significance of RUF’s brand new scaleable chassis, I had to drive to Pfaffenhausen to take my sweet time looking at its details, and learn about the possibilities it brought to RUF’s table.
When it comes to air-cooled 911s, all everybody talks about nowadays is the result of Singer’s Dynamics and Lightweighting Study, a car Singer reimagined with the help of Williams Advanced Engineering. That 911 comes with a magnificent engine, all the carbon fiber and a whole bunch of clever upgrades that only costs 1.8 million of your hard-earned dollars. Yet Singer bases its restorations on a standard 964 floor, adding a strut brace at the front, and seam welding in critical places. You know who did the same upgrades back in 1992? Porsche, for the European-market Carrera RS.
There was a rumor among 911 enthusiasts that Alois Ruf has such a good relationship with Porsche that he got his donor cars as body-in-white shells straight from the factory, despite being a manufacturer himself. But I was told that hasn’t been the case since the early eighties, when Porsche upgraded to an assembly line that wouldn’t allow for a single car to be taken out of the chain on demand. Since then, RUF has been buying Porsches from dealers just like everybody else. And despite throwing out pretty much everything, its not like they can opt for the base models either, as the complicated wiring harness has to be in place for all luxury functions to work.
Needless to say, the new RUF chassis is extremely rigid. And not by 1989 standards. Since RUF doesn’t own an autocave, the monocoque comes from a supplier in the south of Germany, while the complete chassis requires parts from around ten other companies. Once all the bits are at RUF, with the welded subframes and the carbon fiber skin, full assembly takes 2-3 days.
In a world where Singer charges $1.8 million for a 500 horsepower naturally-aspirated air-cooled car based on a Porsche 964, RUF charges roughly a million less for an equally naturally-aspirated, but water-cooled, carbon monocoque-based, and therefore brand new car packing 535 horsepower. You do the math, but pricing isn’t even the crucial part. It’s the engineering.