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RUF CTR Anniversary driven

“The Yellowbird is a car that made us internationally renowned from one day to another. We were the world’s fastest car – all the big companies were slower. No matter if it was 20 years ago, ten years ago or just yesterday, everybody talks about this car.” These are the words of Marcel Ruf, who talks with passion and pride when I ask him to describe what the RUF CTR of 1987 did for his father’s company.

It was that 3.2 Carrera-based ‘Yellowbird’ which put RUF Automobile on the map. A real-life David versus Goliath moment, it was faster than Ferrari’s F40 and Porsche’s 959, inspiring an entire generation of automotive fanatic. Those three letters responsible for building it became an alluring brand synonymous with engineering precision and purity henceforth.

We’re here on Rufplatz to celebrate 80 years of a company which has been integral to the culture surrounding the 911, a sports car we all – RUF included – admire greatly. RUF has always found a way to improve on Porsche’s recipe, consistently evolving the 911 years ahead of Zuffenhausen.

It led to RUF becoming a certified manufacturer in its own right by the German authorities in 1981, and since then we’ve been on the road to this very moment, a dream Alois Ruf Jr has harvested for decades: to build a complete sports car from scratch. That car is the new RUF CTR.

Revealed in 2017 – 30 years since the original – the latest CTR has undergone further testing, tweaks and even a name change. The CTR Anniversary, as it is now known, is at last approaching the finished article, and is a fitting way for this family-run business to celebrate its 80th birthday.

Putting the festivities to one side, this new CTR is arguably the most important RUF creation in years. Times have changed, and now there’s much stiffer competition for ultra high-end, Porsche-inspired craftwork, most notably from a well-known company some 5,000-miles away in north Hollywood.

Looking more inwardly too, the fact this is the first RUF to be built completely from scratch carries a significant cost. Company sources tell me it could be between €12 to 15 million to develop the CTR, all of the investment coming directly from RUF itself. It’s a statement of confidence to say the least, the carbon fibre monocoque at its centre forming, we are told, the basis of RUF cars of the future as well as now.

On paper the CTR Anniversary’s credentials (we’ll come to those later) have well and truly resonated with the uber wealthy, so much so that all 30 cars of the initial build run were sold within a week. I say initial build run, as off-the-bat demand for the CTR Anniversary caught out not only RUF itself, but owners of the first CTR, too, who simply didn’t react quick enough to bag the latest example.

“We felt it was important that those owners of the original CTR were given the opportunity to have an Anniversary, so we spoke with the 30 buyers of the new car and asked how they felt about us increasing production to 50 cars to solve the problem. Thankfully they gave their blessing, so we were able to offer the extra 20 spaces only to those who had a CTR1,” Marcel Ruf explains. A potential sticking point dealt with efficiently and calmly – how typically German.

Production of the CTR Anniversary is set to run until 2022 (by which time the company will also have started building its new, naturally aspirated SCR) with deliveries beginning later this year. A handful are very near to completion, these being assembled by hand on the factory floor during our visit. However, sitting outside and resplendent in the house colour of yellow, there’s an example ready for the road – and we’re going to be driving it.

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996 40th anniversary: coming of age

Forty: one of the big ones, passing into the fourth decade tends to be a significant generational marker. To celebrate or commiserate, though? Porsche obviously decided to do the former – after all, producing a sports car for 40 years is an undeniably notable achievement.

It was a while ago now, too. It’s incredible to think that with the 992 we’ll see the 911 tick over to 60. That’s in just four years time, so it’s been nearly two whole decades since this Anniversary model was introduced.

Back then the 911 was the 996. Old enough to be in its second generation, Porsche’s awkward transitional 911 benefitting from the revised headlights that were introduced with the Turbo. As we all know, the 996 brought water-cooling to the 911, it igniting a debate that still resonates to this day, the 996 arguably the most divisive 911 in our favourite sports car’s now 56 years. Time heals, or at least softens resolve, and the 996 has found favour in its advancing years, the Turbo, GT3, GT3 RS and 4S all generating justifiable praise.

The Anniversary should be included among them as, unlike Porsche’s ill-considered Millennium Edition of 2000, the ‘40 Jahre’ car’s specification verges on perfection. Visually it is a demonstration of dignified restraint, perhaps with the exception of the shot-blasted and polished 18-inch Carrera II lightweight wheels. With the finish of those wheels prone to damage, many Anniversary cars have had their alloys refurbished with a more conventional painted finish. That might rob them of their originality, but does arguably improve the looks.

Elsewhere the Anniversary follows a proven Porsche formula that defines a special model. It does so without dropping any weight; as any 40-year old will testify, shifting bulk is tricky. The 996 is fairly light as standard though: the Anniversary’s kerb weight of 1,370kg matches that of the standard Gen2 Carrera. Instead of losing mass, Porsche focused on other facets to improve the offering with the Anniversary, particularly relating to how it drives.

Key to the Anniversary’s spec is the addition of an X51 Powerkit. It’s an option that would have added around £9,000 to a standard Carrera should you have asked for it back in the early 2000s. The X51 sees the power rise to 345bhp. Admittedly it’s not a significant gain over the 320bhp Carrera, but writing off the X51’s revisions on the modest bhp gain alone is to do the not-insubstantial revisions it brings a serious disservice.

The Powerkit adds cast-aluminium intake manifolds with a modified cross section, the exhaust ducts too benefiting by being larger in their width and being flow optimised thanks to machining and polishing. The valvetrain differs too: the valves and their springs, caps, guides and seats are changed over the standard car, allowing increased movement to benefit the X51 camshaft’s greater inlet valve stroke and modified inlet and exhaust timing.

The lubrication system is improved with a different dual-chamber suction pump for cylinder bank four to six, new oil lines and the oil pan coming with bulkhead baffles to help prevent high g-force oil surge. The changes via the X51 are anecdotally said to improve the durability of the 3.6-litre flat six because it counters the under-lubrication of cylinder six, with the benefit of helping prevent overheating and premature wear.

Controlling all that is a modified engine map which, like all the X51 Powerkit’s development, was apparently the work of the Motorsport department. That arguably makes X51-equipped cars ‘under-the-counter’ GT machines, and worth seeking out.

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Rare Porsche 911 Cabriolets

Porsche isn’t one to miss a good marketing opportunity. Throughout the 54 years of 911 production, in which over a million examples of this iconic sports car have rolled out of Zuffenhausen, the company has bestowed worldwide customers with a whole host of special editions to celebrate anniversaries, milestones and notable racing achievements.

The latest addition is Motorsport’s new 935, a track-only car based mechanically on the 991 GT2 RS but styled on the revered Moby Dick of 1978. More interestingly though, there’s also a new Speedster. However, the fact it’s being built to commemorate 70 years of Porsche isn’t particularly significant, and neither is the numbered production run of just 1,948 examples. No, it’s a special-edition, open-topped Porsche.

Think about it, most special-edition Porsche 911s are Coupes. From the 930 S to the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, via the 993 GT2, 996 Anniversary and 997 Sport Classic, these limited cars, often built on a numbered production run, are tin-top. There appears no specific reason for this: all body styles hail from the same production line at Werk II, and it’s not like an open-topped 911 is unpopular – in fact, widespread endearment to both the Cabriolet and Targa is such that Porsche has kept both models running concurrently since 1983. And while it’s true 911 Coupes will always enjoy a certain cache over their open-topped stablemates, what’s not to like about a special-edition Cabriolet?

To find out we’ve come to Long Beach in southern California to sample two stellar open-topped examples of rare Porsche in the 3.2 Commemorative Cabriolet and 964 America Roadster. Owned by serial Porsche owner and Total 911 subscriber Bruce Brown, these cars are used as they were intended, cruising the boulevards and carving through the inland canyons, roof down, revelling under the year-round Californian sunshine.

The cars arrive at the beach just after us, pulling off the highway and driving onto a slipway down to the Pacific Ocean, the 964’s almost V8-like thrum a striking note against the 3.2 Carrera’s more agricultural resonance. Bruce, in the 3.2, and his friend Simon Birch, piloting the 964, kill the cars and jump out, which gives us a chance to absorb both 911s as they cool off in the brisk sea wind.

First, the Commemorative 3.2. Built to honour 250,000 911s having been built, it’s sometimes referred to as the 25th Anniversary – this at a time before Porsche thought of the 30, 40 and 50 Jahre Anniversary models in the ensuing years. The 3.2 Commemorative Edition was available in either Coupe, Cabriolet or Targa body styles.

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2018 RM Sotheby’s Porsche Atlanta Auction Results

In what was possibly the largest and most talked about single-marque auction ever, RM Sotheby’s pulled off an incredible feat. The Porsche Auction was held at PCNA headquarters in Atlanta this weekend, and there were a few takeaways from the event that made headlines in our minds. First, it’s important to remember that Project Gold is more than a regular 993 Turbo S, it’s a one-of-a-kind factory-built brand new 993 Turbo S with lots of unique visual cues and media attention. Regardless of all that, it’s absolutely mind-blowing that it reached 3.1 million dollars. Second, there are some big moves in value coming for the transaxle cars. With a 924 trading hands for over 50,000 dollars, these cars are finally getting the attention they deserve.

I’m trying something new with the realized prices you see below. Prices falling under their pre-auction estimate will be highlighted in red, while those that exceed their estimate will be highlighted green. Any falling within their estimate range will remain black. Enjoy!

Total Porsches Offered: 68 | Total Porsches Sold: 57 | Total Porsche Sales: $24,974,740 | Sell Through Rate: 83.8%

Lot 155 – Porsche 356 Speedster Junior Children’s Car – Pre-Auction Estimate: $18,000 – 25,000

Realized: $9,000

Lot 156 – Porsche 550 Spyder Junior Children’s Car – Pre-Auction Estimate: $18,000 – 25,000

Realized: $7,800

Lot 157 – Porsche 904 GTS Junior Children’s Car – Pre-Auction Estimate: $20,000 – 30,000

Realized: $9,600

Lot 158 – Porsche 917 Junior Children’s Car – Pre-Auction Estimate: $50,000 – 60,000

Realized: $31,200

Lot 161 – 1956 Porsche 356A Training Car – Pre-Auction Estimate: $100,000 – 150,000

Realized: $112,000

Lot 162 – 1984 Porsche 944 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $35,000 – 45,000

Realized: $29,120

Lot 163 – 1994 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Turbo Look – Pre-Auction Estimate: $125,000 – 150,000

Realized: $117,600

Lot 164 – 1994 Porsche 928 GTS – Pre-Auction Estimate: $90,000 – 120,000

Realized: $112,000

Lot 165 – 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $125,000 – 175,000

Realized: $196,000

Lot 166 – 1969 Porsche 911E Coupe 2.0L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $70,000 – 90,000

Realized: $81,200

Lot 167 – 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo S – Pre-Auction Estimate: $300,000 – 400,000

Realized: $434,000

Lot 168 -1971 Porsche 914/6 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $100,000 – 125,000

Realized: $145,600

Lot 169 – 1995 Porsche 911 Cup 3.8 RSR Evo – Pre-Auction Estimate: $250,000 – 275,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 170 – 2006 Porsche 911 Carrera S Club Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $120,000 – 160,000

Realized: $151,200

Lot 171 -1971 Porsche 911E Targa 2.2L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $125,000 – 150,000

Realized: $67,200

Lot 172 – 1988 Porsche 911 Turbo S Slant Nose Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $250,000 – 300,000

Realized: $307,500

Lot 173 – 1958 Porsche 356A 1600 Super Speedster Barn Find – Pre-Auction Estimate: $125,000 – 150,000

Realized: $307,500

Lot 174 -1965 Porsche 911 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $200,000 – 250,000

Realized: $246,400

Lot 175 – 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7L Lightweight – Pre-Auction Estimate: $875,000 – 1,100,000

Realized: $1,022,500

Lot 176 – 1977 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera – Pre-Auction Estimate: $140,000 – 180,000

Realized: $151,200

Lot 177 – 1993 Porsche 911 RS America – Pre-Auction Estimate: $150,000 – 200,000

Realized: $162,400

Lot 178 – 1980 Porsche 935 Kremer K4 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $850,000 – 1,100,000

Realized: $885,000

Lot 179 – 1996 Porsche 911 Carrera RS – Pre-Auction Estimate: $500,000 – 600,000

Realized: $390,000

Lot 180 – 1968 Porsche 911L Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $125,000 – 150,000

Realized: $114,800

Lot 181 – 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $2,400,000 – 2,800,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 182 – 1996 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S – Pre-Auction Estimate: $100,000 – 125,000

Realized: $117,600

Lot 183 – 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $800,000 – 1,000,000

Realized: $566,000

Lot 184 – 1951 Porsche 356 Split Window Cabriolet 1300 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $560,000 – 800,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 185 – 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder – Pre-Auction Estimate: $1,400,000 – 1,600,000

Realized: $1,407,500

Lot 186 – 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 3.8 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $175,000 – 200,000

Realized: $196,000

Lot 187 – 1963 Porsche 356 B 1600 Sunroof Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $90,000 – 120,000

Realized: $117,600

Lot 188 – 1994 Porsche 911 Speedster – Pre-Auction Estimate: $200,000 – 250,000

Realized: $190,400

Lot 189 – 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo – Pre-Auction Estimate: $225,000 – 275,000

Realized: $210,000

Lot 190 – 1951 Porsche 356 Pre-A Split-Window Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $600,000 – 800,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 191 – 1985 Porsche 959 Prototype – Pre-Auction Estimate: $1,300,000 – 1,600,000

Realized: $1,000,000

Lot 192 – 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7L Touring – Pre-Auction Estimate: $650,000 – 750,000

Realized: $698,000

Lot 193 – 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S X85 Slant Nose « Flachbau » – Pre-Auction Estimate: $600,000 – 750,000

Realized: $560,000

Lot 194 – 1969 Porsche 911E 2.0L Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $125,000 – 150,000

Realized: $123,200

Lot 195 – 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS – Pre-Auction Estimate: $175,000 – 225,000

Realized: $215,600

Lot 196 – 1985 Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar – Pre-Auction Estimate: $3,000,000 – 3,400,000

Realized: $5,945,000

Lot 197 – 1960 Porsche 356 B Coupe Super 90 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $140,000 – 160,000

Realized: $190,400

Lot 198 – 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet – Pre-Auction Estimate: $225,000 – 275,000

Realized: $207,200

Lot 199 – 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS – Pre-Auction Estimate: $700,000 – 800,000

Realized: $538,500

Lot 200 – 1983 Porsche 956 Group C – Pre-Auction Estimate: $5,250,000 – 6,750,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 201 – 1970 Porsche 911S Coupe 2.2L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $180,000 – 220,000

Realized: $193,200

Lot 202 – 1992 Porsche 911 Carrera RS – Pre-Auction Estimate: $600,000 – 700,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 203 – 1956 Porsche 356 A Speedster 1600 Super – Pre-Auction Estimate: $500,000 – 600,000

Realized: $494,500

Lot 204 – 1970 Porsche 914/6 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $80,000 – 100,000

Realized: $95,200

Lot 205 – 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7L Prototype – Pre-Auction Estimate: $1,250,000 – 1,500,000

Realized: $1,325,000

Lot 206 – 1985 Porsche 911 Turbo Slant Nose Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $250,000 – 300,000

Realized: $246,400

Lot 207 – 2004 Porsche Carrera GT – Pre-Auction Estimate: $650,000 – 750,000

Realized: Pulled From Auction

Lot 208 – 1968 Porsche 911 Sportomatic Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $225,000 – 275,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 209 – 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S – Pre-Auction Estimate: $775,000 – 950,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 210 – 1967 Porsche 911S 2.0L Coupe – Pre-Auction Estimate: $175,000 – 225,000

Realized: $229,600

Lot 211 – 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $260,000 – 300,000

Realized: $235,000

Lot 212 – 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster – Pre-Auction Estimate: $300,000 – 350,000

Realized: $280,000

Lot 213 – 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS – Pre-Auction Estimate: $260,000 – 300,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 214 – 1968 Porsche 911 Soft-Window Targa – Pre-Auction Estimate: $170,000 – 190,000

Realized: $95,200

Lot 215 – 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $2,000,000 – 2,200,000

Realized: Reserve Not Met

Lot 216 – 1960 Porsche 356B Super 90 Cabriolet – Pre-Auction Estimate: $160,000 – 190,000

Realized: $168,000

Lot 217 – 1996 Porsche 911 GT2 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $800,000 – 1,200,000

Realized: $643,000

Lot 218 – 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6L – Pre-Auction Estimate: $150,000 – 200,000

Realized: $184,800

Lot 219 – 2005 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet – Pre-Auction Estimate: $120,000 – 140,000

Realized: $112,000

Lot 220 – 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo Classic Series (993) « Project Gold » – No Estimate Provided

Realized: $3,415,000

Lot 221 – 1980 Porsche 924 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $30,000 – 40,000

Realized: $53,760

Lot 222 – 1990 Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet – Pre-Auction Estimate: $40,000 – 60,000

Realized: $29,120

Lot 223 – 1979 Porsche 928 – Pre-Auction Estimate: $60,000 – 80,000

Realized: $57,120

Lot 224 – 1959 Porsche Diesel Junior 108 K Tractor – Pre-Auction Estimate: $30,000 – 40,000

Realized: $51,520

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Porsche: the 996 story

The 996 was a revamp in the evolution of the 911 as suddenly, by 1997, Porsche’s icon was thrust headlong into the 21st century. Improvements were introduced, while much-loved quirks were expunged. Enthusiasts found it instantly familiar yet disconcertingly different. It still divides opinion today.

This guide details the evolution of the 996, from replacing the 993 in 1997 to being phased out by the 997 in 2004/2005. It includes the Cabriolet, Targa and Turbo, with the preceding feature having documented the GT cars. We’ll cover updates, specification changes and options added during the model’s lifetime, along with what to look for when buying one.

Our story starts in the mid-1990s. Porsche was in dire straits, haemorrhaging money with the threat of takeover looming (GM, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota were all interested, according to rumour). Times were tough, as 996 designer Pinky Lai told us in 2015: “The pressure and burden on my shoulders was bigger than the fate of the company: I had to deal with the fate of the 911!” A radical rethink was needed – and delivered.

Porsche flew in consultants from Japan to streamline its Zuffenhausen factory. The 911 would no longer be hand-built, but mass produced – it also merged design and development of the 996 with the new entry-level 986 Boxster, allowing both cars to share components. Cost savings of 30 per cent versus the outgoing 993 were quoted, a figure almost unheard of in the industry.

The 996 Carrera Coupe made its world debut at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show. Controversially, it bore more than a passing resemblance to the cheaper Boxster, being almost identical ahead of the A-pillar. Lai had spent many hours in a wind tunnel refining the car’s slippery shape and a Cd of just 0.30 was the result, down from 0.33 for the 993. An electric rear spoiler extends at 75mph, then retracts again at 37mph – Mr Lai recalls how he had to fight for the inclusion of the electrically operated rear spoiler to better manage downforce at high speeds, despite the company arguing there wasn’t enough money in the pot for this to be included. Thankfully Lai won through, and the active spoiler was included as standard in the final production specification.

More controversy lurked beneath the engine lid, though. Despite the protestations of purists, Porsche claimed the introduction of water cooling was vital to meet emissions and noise regulations. However, as 996 development chief Horst Marchart later acknowledged, cost was also a factor: “Nobody in the world had air-cooled engines except us… it took a lot of money to make special systems since we could not share technology with anyone else.”

At least the M96 motor was still a rear-mounted flat six. It displaced 3,387cc and produced 304hp at 6,800rpm, with 350Nm of torque at 4,600rpm. Four valves per cylinder featured for the first time in a mainstream 911, along with Porsche’s new Variocam adjustable camshaft timing to boost response. Headline stats were 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and 174mph flat out. Buyers could choose a six-speed manual gearbox from Getrag or a five-speed Tiptronic auto from ZF, the latter offering clutchless manual shifts.

The 996 was 185mm longer and 30mm wider than its predecessor, with a 45 per cent stiffer chassis formed of high-strength steel. Impressively, it was 50kg lighter than a 993, too, despite the additional radiators, pumps and 20 litres of cooling water.

For the full feature on the evolution of the 996, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 167 in shops now or get it delivered to your door. You can also download the issue to any Apple or Android device. Don’t forget you can also subscribe to ensure you never miss and issue. 

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