Known for blending outrageously powerful motors with understated exteriors, RUF Automobile GmbH has made quite a name for itself. But beyond the tire-smoking Yellowbirds, there are a few vehicles which, while possibly not headline material in themselves, help constitute an interesting, varied stable from a company capable of producing more than just performance.
Why not embrace the changing times by fitting an electric motor in one of the most classic shapes in the automotive world? The eRUF’s subdued exterior hides a UQM Propulsion system that generates 201 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque—all available from zip. That small powerplant makes room for the Axeon iron-phosphate, lithium-ion batteries weighing 12.34 pounds and delivering 160 Ah each.
Production was slated for fall of 2009, but unfortunately, this never happened.
A drop-top Carrera, still relatively diminutive with the 997’s proportions, using 630 horsepower to move its 3,600-pounds around is an appealing recipe. The RT-35 Roadster is based upon a non-turbo Carrera Cabriolet, but fitted with the defining bodywork that straddles the fence between aggressiveness and respectability. Like the exterior, the 3.8 turbomotor is exaggerated in typical RUF style; staying just this side of ostentatious while still getting a message across. As we can tell from the hurricane powering this car in the footage below, this is no standard 911.
You wouldn’t be out of place by saying the first Boxster needed a little added chutzpah to turn heads. In the case of the 3400S, RUF added that vim and that red-blooded character that the 986 could’ve used. True, the Boxster was a capable car in factory trim, but its soft shape and underpowered engine left a little to be desired.
With this model, the focus was on swapping in a 3.4-liter engine for a respectable amount of power. Thanks to 310 horsepower and different aero, the 3400S’ 0-60 mph sprint takes just 5.0 seconds, the 100-mph mark is reached in 11.5 seconds, and the top speed is 175 mph.
The 3400S was far more than a straightline special, though. To give it a properly athletic appearance, it received a few bits from the 996.1 GT3. Some portions of the aero kit, those incredible bucket seats, larger brakes, a sports exhaust, upgraded suspension, and additional chassis bracing made the rare 3400S a genuine sports car.
Wider, five-spoke 19″ wheels wrapped in 235/35ZR19 tires up front and 275/30ZR19s in the rear give the 3400S the stance and roadholding a true sports car should have. Though this is a clear demonstration of what RUF do best, there’s no denying that injecting that level of performance into the maligned Boxster, giving it a unique character, and creating a well-balanced, accessible product required a level of ingenuity that goes beyond what many shops can manage.
RUF VW T4
Though the VW T4/Eurovan had an adequate amount of power from the factory, it, like its older brother, could’ve always used a little more. RUF addressed this by implanting a 3.6-liter making 550 horsepower, stiffening the chassis, and replacing the bench seats with Recaro buckets. An unsuspecting van which can hit 60 in 5 seconds ought to get your blood pumping.
True, RUF’s bodywork is typically on the conservative side of things. If you’re seeking something that screams at the pedestrian, a Gemballa is arguably the buy for you. However, RUF’s stab at the first-generation Cayenne seems to have borrowed a bit from Gemballa’s book. With the help of Platune Technology, RUF produced the Dakara: a loud, aggressive, wildly-styled SUV with sporting pretensions.
Gills, flares, and the 997 Carrera’s headlights make you double-take. In fact, the most restrained piece of styling are RUF’s signature five-spokes, which complement this cruiser’s shape beautifully in a 22″ size. If there’s a model to try your hand at bling, perhaps the largest and least athletic member of the family is the right one—they won’t mind the added weight.