As regular readers of The Garage will know that I spent much of my teenage years in the Ranta household, soaking up not only friendship, but a bit of automotive history. What some of you may not know is that one of the air cooled gems in the family collection is a very early Porsche 911. In fact, so early that the car is actually a 901, not a 911. It is number 27 of a production run of around 82 cars. Many people believe that 1964 was the first year for the 911, this car is a ’63. This car has been in the Ranta family since 1963. 43 years. It may soon take a long trip back to Germany to begin a restoration to it’s original condition.
Porschephiles will be more than familiar with the Ruf name. Ruf is a premier tuning company that works closely with the Porsche factory. Company leader Alois Ruf visited the Ranta house today and spent the afternoon inspecting number 27 and swapping stories.
As automotive tuners go, Ruf has become legendary. Historically, there haven’t been many tuners who actually work alongside the factory, and with factory blessing. Ruf has been working with Porsche so long that the name Ruf has become synonymous with the fastest Porsches on the planet. In other words, I was meeting the namesake of a legend. What do you expect when you meet an automotive legend? This isn’t Hollywood, the is The Garage and we believe in being comfortable. We arrived just in time to be put into action cracking open the Stella’s. The next hour or so, I just sat back and listened to 2 Porsche historians comparing notes and stories. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon. Unless of course they had left me to drive Yellowbird.
Alois Ruf turned out to be a wonderfully charming, relaxed guy who absolutely lives and breathes cars. Specifically, he lives and breathes Porsche. With a mechanical background, this is a guy who really gets what these cars are all about. Not only is he into Porsche racing history, but he was there for many of the events that went into furthering the Porsche myth in the 60’s and 70’s. One of his first jobs as a young apprentice was to dissassemble a 901 that had been crashed by a dealership customer. This led to a lifetime love affair with the 901/911 series. Not only does Herr Ruf love the brand, he also understands the mystique that goes along with it. After his visit with us, he was headed on a 3 hour drive to make a surprise visit to a customer’s house. The customer was about to receive his new/used Yellowbird, the first and only one of it’s kind in Canada. Ruf felt it might make the arrival even more special if he were there for the welcome party. That is sure to blow his customer away and it explains why his company has become so successful. It’s not just about fast cars, but about people.
The story of number 27 may be over 40 years old, but I suspect the journey is just beginning. Stay tuned for more details over the next few months.