The 550-HP RUF Tribute Is a Love Letter to Air-Cooled Porsches

The new twin-turbo, air-cooled engine was designed by Alois Ruf Jr.

Porsche purists rejoice, the air-cooled 911 is back! Well, sort of. The new RUF Tribute just dropped at Monterey Car Week and it packs an all-new air-cooled flat-six engine—designed by Alois Ruf Jr. himself—in a classic shape. The Tribute is a love letter to the original air-cooled 911, the car that inspired Ruf Jr. to start his namesake company.

The Tribute is built on the same carbon-fiber monocoque as the RUF CTR Anniversary, the brand’s homage to its own iconic Yellowbird of the 1980s. Also like the CTR Anniversary, the Tribute has the classic G-body Porsche 911 silhouette, wide hips, five double-spoke center-locking wheels, rear bumper vents, rear fender intakes, and whale-tail rear wing. It also sports an integrated roll cage, to stiffen the structure and add some on-track safety. However, rather than the CTR’s canary hue, the Tribute wears forest green.

Peek into its rear engine bay and you’ll find pushrod-actuated coilovers, again similar to what’s inside the CTR Anniversary. Its double-wishbone suspension and brakes—six-piston front, four-piston rear—carry over, too.

However, the star of the show is unquestionably that engine. Alois Ruf’s air-cooled, 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six makes 550 horsepower, thanks to billet-aluminum heads, four-cam three-valve technology (an air-cooled first, according to RUF), variable valve timing and lift, and a dry-sump oil system. RUF didn’t reveal any performance figures, but it should be slower to 60 mph than the 3.5-second time of the CTR Anniversary, which churned about 150 hp more.

In addition to the Tribute, RUF brought two other cars to Monterey: the CTR3 Evo and R Spyder. The former is a track-oriented upgrade of the CTR Clubsport, packing a twin-turbocharged, intercooled 3.8-liter flat-six with 800 hp and 730 lb-ft of torque. Rather than the typical RUF manual transmission, the CTR3 Evo has a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with paddle shifters, proving its more track-focused nature. With a steel chassis, carbon fiber body, integrated roll cage, and all of that power, owners might actually be willing to attempt reaching its 236-mph top speed.

The R Spyder looks very much like the company’s take on the Porsche 911 Speedster, with its roofless cabin and double-rollover bar. Rather than the 911 Speedster’s windshield, though, the R Spyder offers its passengers individual windscreens. Powering the R Spyder is a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six, good for 515 hp. Torque is rated at 350 lb-ft.

RUF’s showings in California this weekend illustrate why Porsche purists still hold the German manufacturer in such high regard. The RUF Tribute, though, is what will have those same purists fawning over air-cooled nostalgia and an iconic 911 profile. If only we could hear it.

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