Lot 223

Monterey 2018

1989 RUF CTR 'Yellow Bird'


$1,022,500 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
CTR 34DK008
Gearbox No.
  • One of the 29 original CTR ‘Yellow Birds’
  • Highly original throughout, never crashed or restored
  • Only 52,200 km from new
Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.
Addendum: Please note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price is payable on this lot if the buyer is a resident of the United States. Also, note that due to California emissions, this vehicle must be sold to a dealer or out-of-state resident. Also, note that the title is in transit.

The RUF CTR rose to fame as a result of a test done by Road & Track magazine that was published in their July 1987 issue. Organized to determine the world’s fastest car, the test would be held at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test track. The assembled assortment of automobiles was truly a “who’s-who” for the class of 1987. However, amongst the likes of a Ferrari Testarossa, a 288 GTO, and a Porsche 959, it was the RUF that made the biggest impression. Perhaps Peter Egan’s article itself describes the CTR’s ludicrous performance best:

I held onto the built-in roll cage as Paul Frere accelerated onto the track, and I was absolutely astounded by the acceleration (no easy feat after a day in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc.). At each gearshift the Ruf went slightly sideways, only to straighten for an explosive burst of speed to the next gear, more like what I imagined a top-fuel dragster to be than a perfectly drivable road car. As Paul hit 5th gear, we blasted past the first timing clock at 311.9 km/h—still accelerating from a standing start!

At the test itself, the particular CTR that was being used was painted bright yellow by RUF, which quickly earned the nickname of ‘Yellow Bird’ by both RUF’s own staff and the journalists in attendance. Not only did it stand out due to its sheer performance, but it was the only yellow car in attendance at the test. In a sea of reds, silvers, and blues, the RUF stuck out in more ways than one and earned itself a fantastic reputation as something almost otherworldly. For those looking for the ultimate supercar, the RUF CTR ‘Yellow Bird’ was undoubtedly the best.

The 10th of the 29 original CTR ‘Yellow Birds’ originally built by RUF, chassis no. 10 was originally built for RUF’s distributor in Switzerland, where it was delivered new on 10 February 1989. The car was instead sold to a German client who was waiting on his own CTR but was growing impatient with his order and purchased this car instead while waiting for the one he ordered to his specifications. Upon the delivery of the second car, he kept both. Finished in black and fitted with RUF’s trademark five-spoke wheels, it boasts a grey interior with black Recaro bucket seats and a roll cage.

With only 52,200 km on its odometer, RUF confirms that the mileage is original and that the car has never been restored or damaged throughout its life, remaining in wonderfully original condition.

But even more remarkable than that jump to the Ruf’s 211-mph top speed was that Phil, Paul, and Alois Ruf all agreed that the yellow car was undergeared. “ We could make it go faster,” Ruf said . . .

In the coming years, RUF proceeded to go faster and faster. For RUF, the CTR ‘Yellow Bird’ and its inclusion in Road & Track catapulted the company international fame, cementing its place in automotive lore as a tuner and manufacturer truly in a league of its own. With the article, RUF had captivated its audience, made up of not only prospective customers, but a generation that could not quite put their hands on the car, yet due to their young age, the car would be a forbidden fruit and something to aspire to for years to come.

Concluding the article, discussing varying acceleration times of the car’s in the test, for Egan, there was no forgetting the sheer speed of the CTR: But for us Americans, as Ruf had correctly divined, nothing quite surpassed the magic of going 200 mph. And beyond.

Thirty years after the test, nothing has changed.