When 400bhp is not enough
This car started life as a standard 1996 993 Turbo which would have cost its lucky owner around ninety large ones. It spent the first few years of its life happily being propelled around Europe by the hardly underpowered, yet standard 408bhp/398lb-ft engine. Then its owner at the time made the trip to Porsche heaven for another 100bhp. Heaven is a company called Ruf.
There are other Porsche tuners in Germany that tweak 911s. Yet primarily due to the exploits of the 211mph 'Yellowbird' 911 of the late 1980's - (particularly when in the hands of the white socks and slip on shoe wearing 911 driftmeister Stefan Roser) those three letters R-U-F will get any Porsche enthusiast's heart racing.
This car underwent engine and suspension changes while at Ruf. The engine was converted to full Turbo R spec and the suspension uprated with a height adjustable kit from H&R. Ruf may only quote a 'mere' 490bhp for the Turbo R upgrade, however almost every car tested records comfortably over 500bhp. This particular car recorded a fantastic 505bhp and 535 lb-ft of torque. The total bill for this upgrade was a mere 'ahem' DM 35,000 or £14,000.
In truth that represents good value for money as not only did it include the re-programmed ECU, upgraded KKK turbos, full sports exhaust and new re-profiled camshafts, but it also included a full overhall of the cylinder heads, an RS spec flywheel (rather then the standard dual mass item) and the uprated suspension.
Other than sitting approximately 30mm lower than standard, you'd be forgiven for thinking the car was almost standard. Until it's started up that is. A quick twist of the key brings a glorious sound booming from the tailpipes.
How Fast Mister?
Well despite the 993's advantage of an extra 50bhp and approximately 40kg less weight, I wouldn't like to bet on this car having beaten the 996's on the relatively short runway, simply due to the 996's superior aerodynamics which make acceleration over 150mph feel effortless.
Ruf figures give 0-100kph (62mph) in just 3.6 secs, while the important figure for us Brits is beating the 10 secs to 100mph time - which the Turbo R does comfortably. Ruf don't have this data, but contemporary road tests put it in the 8 seconds area. Top speed is definitely in the 200mph club, quite how far into 200mph it will go I'm not sure, but I believe these cars have been recorded at 205mph on the Autobahn.
What's it like to drive?
Around town other than the firmer ride you could be driving a standard 993 Turbo. The engine doesn't complain at low speeds and even at low off-boost speeds it's a nippy car, (hardly surprising when at just under 3000rpm the engine kicks out the same power as a 3.2 Carrera pumps out at full whack).
Get out of town and ease your foot down a few millimetres further and by the time you approach 4000rpm the turbos are starting to make their presence known and you already have 350bhp at your disposal. There is no turbo lag as such. The power delivery of the twin turbos is unlike the brutal on/off boost transition than exhibited itself in previous generations of modified single turbo 911s. In fact the power simply builds up rather like an extremely torquey normally aspirated engine.
Keep your right foot planted over 4000rpm and the car changes from a merely fast car to a very rapid beasty indeed. The effect of 535 lb-ft of torque pushing you forward feels like the car is teleporting you to a spot on the distant the horizon - very, very, quickly!
The H&R suspension set up gives a similar ride to the 993RS. Obviously the Turbo is heavier - over 200kg heavier in fact, but the ride is similar. This car has also had the rubber bushes in the rear suspension uprated using firmer less compliant items, which along with the firmer dampers & lower & uprated springs of the H&R kit helps explain why the ride has far more of a sporting bias than the softer standard Turbo set up.
4WD - a doddle to drive
Yes the car may have 4WD but don't think you can get away with driving this car like its your mum's Metro with a bit more power. After several hours behind the wheel and getting rather used to its effortless overtaking abilities, I was feeling rather like the master of the beast when I got a little reminder about showing the car some respect.
My 'oh sh*t' moment came while exiting a roundabout and I fed in just a touch too much power, oops!- big mistake. Five hundred Ruf tuned suddenly ponies found their way to the damp road surface - mainly through the rear wheels and the car kicked hard right. My pea like brain downloaded this information and waited for a bright idea to be issued from the file marked 'Out of control powerslides in someone else's 500bhp Porsche'.
Suddenly a picture I had seen recently on wreckedexotics.com came to mind and this had the effect of focusing my mind somewhat! (see here)
With buttocks very firmly clenched and knuckles tightening on the wheel, my brain tried to banish that image and at long last issued the 'Do not back off the power unless you really want to spin, oh and also dialling in a bit of opposite lock right about now would be a very good idea' command. So my right foot stayed planted and after a bit of wheel twirling I was once again back in control and rocketing up to indecent speeds, with I do admit, my heart racing just a little bit faster!
My sideways moment was not helped by the (soon to be sorted) common 993 problem of out of alignment rear wheels, (very, very important to 993 handling) but still the fact remains that you have got to spend some time behind the wheel exploring the performance and getting used to the car, before you try and throw a 500bhp rear engined car around like a hot hatchback.
Better than an RS?
Simon the lucky owner of this beast is now selling it to make room for his growing family.
I price tag of £36K will cause a few people who were considering new TVRs or Boxsters to reexamine their priorities!
There has been some discussion lately on PistonHeads regarding the 993RS vs 993 Turbo. Normally I am firmly an RS flag-waver, however this car really can offer the best of both worlds. Despite the weight, the luxuries and four wheel drive, this car feels like a 993RS - admittedly an RS that has put on a bit of middle age spread - but its like an RS that has in the best Spinal Tap tradition, had the volume turned up to eleven.
those so inclined and particularly for those with track days in mind, it would be a simple and relatively inexpensive task to get down to near GT2 sub 1300kg proportions, with only the extra weight of the 4wd adding an extra fifty or so kilos.
On track, other than Ultimas, Radicals and perhaps extreme Caterhams, not much this side of a full Group C racer is going to keep up with an experienced driver on an open circuit where this beast can really stretch its legs. The tyre bill would be rather large, but it would surely be an awesome track weapon.
So did I like it?
I don't think you really need to ask me if I'm a big fan of this car. It distils all I think is great about 911s, into one extremely rapid and very practical package. I'm fortunate in my line of work to have driven some exceedingly desirable Porsche flavoured products, yet when asked to pick a favourite the 993 Ruf Turbo R is always in my line up. Quite simply this car offers greater real world performance and heaps more character than £100k's worth of brand new 996 Turbo. With performance even outclassing the legendary 959 this may possibly be the ultimate last generation air-cooled 911.
Some pictures courtesy of Pete Osborne