Alois Ruf owns one of the oldest and most important Porsche 911 prototypes

By topgear, 15 August 2023

Alois Ruf Jr. owns one of the oldest and most important Porsche 911 prototypes

Two moments proved pivotal in the life of a young Alois Ruf Jr – pronounced roof  – and both, as fate would have it, involved being overtaken by Porsche 911s.

His father had already established a garage in Pfaffenhausen, Germany, in 1939, and following the difficulty in the post-war years, had built himself a tour bus to expand his operation. “Individual transportation was not so common as it is today,” Ruf Jr told, “so people would work six days a week and then take a tour bus on Sunday.”

And it was on one of those Sundays – with a young Ruf Jr in tow – that changed the course of the family business.

“One Sunday in 1963 my father was driving in his tour bus, when he was overtaken by a Porsche,” he said. “At this time to see a Porsche was very rare.

“The driver of the Porsche that overtook my dad sadly lost control and rolled the car into a ditch. My dad looked after him, took him to hospital and made sure he was OK. He later ended up buying the wreckage. He fixed it and that was our first Porsche, and that’s how it all started.

“That was 60 years ago,” he said.

He recalls just how impactful that moment was. “I was 13 years young at the time, so imagine what an influence that was. I was crazy about cars.”

He pauses for a moment, and then smiles. “Funny story. We sold that Porsche a year later to a young man who approached us and bought the car on the spot in cash with the money stored in a candy box.”

That was his and his fathers’ first interaction with a Porsche, but what was Ruf Jr’s first car? “The one that I used as a student was a deux cheavaux. A Citroen 2CV. I liked that car a lot. When I was 18 I fixed it up myself and drove it everywhere.

“Then when I was 19 I got my first Porsche 911 that my father bought for me from Stuttgart. It was damaged and missing an engine. Only later would we learn its history,” he added.

This is the classic record scratch moment; the ‘you might be wondering how I got here’ juncture. For that, we have to rewind back to 1964. It’s a rainy day in Germany. The Ruf boys are on another drive, Sr piloting the family Opel Rekord, Jr in tow once again.

Suddenly, the roar of a flat-six approaches and then wooshes by in a haze of blue. Alois Jr is transfixed. For the second time in as many years, an overtaking Porsche would change his destiny.

Because that exact car would reappear in Ruf Jr’s life, albeit in a slightly poorer state. “When I got the car years later it had close to 100,000km on the clock, but [because of a previous accident] my father had bought it without an engine. He gave it to me for my birthday and said, ‘son, this car came without a 911 engine, and we’re not getting a 911 engine [to replace it],” he said.

Principally because Ruf Sr wanted something a little slower, a little more manageable for Jr to drive. “He allowed me to put in the engine from a 912, a four-cylinder with 90bhp. It was a little on the safer side!”

And so his journey with this damaged, slightly ratty 911 began. “I drove the car like that [with the 912 engine] until 1971. I was so excited about it. I didn’t care what engine it had in there – even if it was a Volkswagen engine, as long as I could drive the silhouette of that car, I’m happy.”

He made an initial exploration into the modifying world by tweaking his first Porsche. “I didn’t like the colour, so I painted it in a blue metallic. I wanted to dress it up as a 911 S, because a 911 S was top notch, so I put all the 911 S trim on it, including the Fuchs wheels,” he said.

Then in 1971, a young man approached Ruf Jr with an intention to purchase this little Porsche. “So I went on a test drive with him. He sadly had an accident and headed into a ditch. But I kept the car, salvaged, and never scrapped it because I always knew it was something special. And I knew one day it had to be resurrected.”

A day long into the future, though, what with the burgeoning family business, setting world’s fastest speed records in new and exciting product, and filming the greatest car video ever slowing things down. Safe to say Ruf’s rise was exponential. The little Porsche that could had to wait.

In the intervening years, Ruf Jr would slowly uncover the car’s extraordinary history and provenance. It was first shown in London in 1963 but with a wooden engine – because all prototypes on display were built with dummy engines – before gaining its original flat-six and later gifted as a company car to a very important executive.

“It was Ferdinand Piech’s test car,” he said. “He drove it until 1965, and then he sold it to Hans Mezger [Porsche’s legendary engine builder]. Hans Mezger had the car for two years and sold it to a gentleman who had a coachbuilding company making buses. This gentleman drove it, enjoyed it, but had an accident on the Hockenheimring on a track day.

“So it was put up for sale which is when my father discovered it.”

Restoration began in earnest in 2019, and Ruf Jr discovered his car – nicknamed ‘quickblau’ – was one of only seven original prototypes of the early 911, back when it was still called a 901.

“Today there are only two prototypes that have survived,” Ruf Jr said. “My car, prototype number 6, and number 7 which is in Pennsylvania in the United States.

“My car was the first one that used the five-instrument dashboard – the classic 911 dashboard. The other prototypes only used two instruments.”

It’s been fully restored to concours spec now, indeed starring at this year’s Villa d’Este show where it scooped the ‘Best in Class’ and ‘Most Iconic Vehicle’ awards. Ruf Jr still drives it today, mind. “I don’t want to keep it in a sealed box,” he said. “It’s a car that needs to be driven. To me, it’s a proper motor car that has to drive.”

Not least because Ruf Jr believes on that fateful day back in 1964, the 911 that overtook him and the car he would later come to own – the quickblau – was driven by none other than Piech himself.

STORY Vijay Pattni

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