How It Feels to Drive a RUF: Owner Impressions from a Star of RM Sotheby’s Arizona Auction

This rare RUF Turbo R is a mechanical symphony—here’s one automotive journalist’s impressions.

Doug Neilson

The outside of this rare “W09” VIN RUF Turbo R looks much like any widebody Porsche 993. But the telltale indicators that this is something rather special lie in the subtle gill-like air vents on the sides of the front and rear bumpers along with lowered stance, and the massive turbo wing.

Black on Black 1998 RUF Turbo R available at RM Sotheby's Arizona Live Auction 2021

1998 RUF Turbo R

 

Estimate: $525,000 - $575,000

 

Once seated and buckled into the deeply bolstered leather sports seats, one feels at home in the quintessential cozy air-cooled 911 cockpit. But again, there are several indicators that let you know that this is something completely exclusive. The green aviator annotated gauges are certainly a RUF trademark, the ergonomic CTR2 Shifter, the unique sporting steering wheel, and the full leather interior are definitely not your average ‘Turbo’ fare, as the styling is just a little more upscale and the leather a little bit more opulent. 

Cockpit of the Black on Black 1998 RUF Turbo R available at RM Sotheby's Arizona Live Auction 2021

After double-clicking the quirky 993 immobilizer fob, the engine instantly barks to life with a twist of the key in your left hand. The idle is steady and sure with a slight lope, but one can feel the vibration of something ominous at the rear of the car. It is not terribly loud, however, the sound is deep and rich. Selecting first gear with the grippy CTR2 shifter is easy and precise. The hydraulically assisted clutch pedal (borrowed from the 993 Turbo) is light and releases high due to the RUF-spec Sachs heavy-duty pressure plate, this takes a bit of getting used to as it grabs quickly, but before you know it you are off and looking for second gear. Gear changes are super smooth and natural with the G6420 Getrag gearbox as one trots along at low RPMs to get things warmed up. The engine is tractable and quiet at low speeds, and one could easily mistake it for a normally aspirated 993, at this point, due to its fine manners.

Through the steering wheel one feels the planted, sturdiness of the AWD chassis, created by combination of the RUF sports suspension and the near-invisible integrated roll cage which significantly stiffens the unibody structure, yet there are no “thunks” or “rattles.” The steering itself is precise and communicative, with a slight heaviness which is inherent with the all-wheel-drive system, while the ride is nicely damped, firm, and supple when combined with RUF’s 19-inch forged and tire package.

Black on Black 1998 RUF Turbo R available at RM Sotheby's Arizona Live Auction 2021

Now fully warmed up, dipping into the throttle in second gear to explore the boost and power, the throttle response is immediate indicating little or no turbo lag. The car is effortlessly catapulted down the wisely chosen (long) straightaway with unbelievable building force, and one instinctively reaches for another gear. The engine note changes as the revs climb—from smooth, characteristic flat-six to a ferocious and frenetic roar. Shifting into fourth gear continues the same wicked rate of acceleration and sensation until the upcoming corner in the distance appears, and better judgment rules that it is definitely time to get on the brakes, and hard. Fortunately, the brake system is more than up to the task, and the pedal is hard and linear. One may have been grumbling about the squeaky “school bus” sounds of the brakes when cold at low speeds, but there’s certainly no question that the race-spec Pagid Yellow brake pads are necessary and well worth the mild annoyance (one eventually learns to like it).

The factory gearing is well-chosen to match the conservatively rated 490 horsepower, twin-turbo engine (these engines are known to produce 520 to 530 horsepower on the in-house RUF engine dyno), with the first five gears selected for maximum acceleration, and sixth gear for maximum speed—about 208 to 211mph, in case you are wondering. With such explosive acceleration on tap, this is certainly no regular air cooled 911, in fact, this is likely the fastest street-legal one you will ever drive, with a “Yellowbird” level of top end to boot.

Black on Black 1998 RUF Turbo R available at RM Sotheby's Arizona Live Auction 2021

Heading sedately back to the garage after an exhilarating drive, one’s pulse lowers slowly and the mechanical symphony’s volume reduces to normal levels, and one is already looking forward to the next experience behind the wheel. This RUF Turbo R is definitely much more than the sum of its parts: It’s a well thought out, finely tuned machine hand crafted by Mr. Alois RUF Jr. and his craftsmen at the factory in Pfaffenhausen, Germany.  And there were only 14 of these truly amazing Turbo R’s ever made.

Black on Black 1998 RUF Turbo R available at RM Sotheby's Arizona Live Auction 2021


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