Legendary Maker of Re-engineered Porsches Expands U.S. Presence

Germany-based RUF is opening a North American headquarters at Miami-Opa Locka Airport.

For many auto enthusiasts, Germany-based RUF represents something legendary. The company is known for its re-engineered versions of Porsche cars, and also vehicles that use Porsche concepts to create something entirely new.

This summer, RUF will open its North American headquarters at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport within the existing Concours Club facility. The Concours Club is a motorsport-themed country club resort with its own driving circuit where members can spend time behind the wheels of their high-performance cars. It offers luxury amenities such as storage in private garages, a fine-dining restaurant, and an events center.

The U.S. and Canada have long been RUF’s largest markets, according to the company’s North American president, Victor Gomez IV. Until now, though, customers have had to work directly with RUF in Germany. “With the opening of the North American headquarters, we will have the opportunity to cater to our clients in the region, giving them the same level of attention and specialized service that RUF delivers in Germany,” he explained. The new location will provide sales and service for the U.S. market and expand the availability of upgrade parts from the company’s catalog.

Locating the new headquarters at Miami-Opa Locka will allow customers to fly in and access the track in minutes, according to Gomez. Prospective customers will be able to experience RUF vehicles through demo rides on the street and on the track. “The most amazing part is that our headquarters is within an actual racetrack, allowing us to showcase our products to our clientele safely at their fullest potential,” Gomez explained, and owners will also be able to drive the track with RUF’s instructors to learn how to fully exploit their cars’ potential. 

The small family-owned company—which can trace its history back to 1939 when it started as a service garage in Pfaffenhausen, Germany—secured its place in automotive history as a giant killer in 1987. That’s when it presented the CTR, also known as the “Yellow Bird.” This car looked like a standard Porsche 911 at first glance but was completely re-engineered. 

In fact, it didn’t even wear a Porsche VIN, because in Germany RUF is classified as a full-fledged auto manufacturer. The CTR featured a twin-turbocharged, air-cooled, 3.4-liter flat-six engine with 469 hp and a five-speed manual transmission. This was in an era when a standard European-spec Porsche 911 Turbo, internally known as the 930, featured a single turbocharged 3.3-liter flat-six with 325 hp and a four-speed gearbox. The Turbo was laden with luxury features and a wider body than the naturally aspirated Carrera model, which added weight. RUF intentionally kept the weight down and used the more aerodynamic narrow naturally aspirated 911 body. 

Road and Track magazine featured the Yellow Bird in a July 1987 test called “The World’s Fastest Cars,” where it beat out eight other established exotics from automakers like Ferrari and Lamborghini, and even Porsche itself, which submitted a pair of its all-wheel-drive 959 supercars, which at the time arguably represented the pinnacle of road-going automotive technology at almost $100,000 more. Racing driver Phil Hill managed to reach a top speed of 211 mph in the RUF, with the next closest car, another highly tuned Porsche built by Germany’s Koenig Specials, reaching 201 mph. 

While the Yellow Bird is RUF’s most famous creation, the company has continued building high-quality, extra-high-performance takes on Porsches and recently even began production of models that appear as 1980s-era Porsche 911s at first glance but are completely bespoke automobiles with carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and bodywork. The modern version of the CTR model based on this architecture boasts 710 hp and a 224-mph top speed.