The last Porsche 911 powered by an air-cooled flat engine rolled off the assembly line in Germany way back in 1998 bearing the internal designation 993, ending the decades-old stint of churning out tens of thousands of waterless engine-powered two-doors.
As a result of this longtime passion for air-cooled engines, which harks back to the original Volkswagen Beetle, Porsche enthusiasts with deep pockets seem eager to spend a pretty penny on well-preserved or special edition air-cooled 911s. It’s also the reason why Porsche specialist Ruf – the maker of the iconic Yellowbird – decided to bring back the air-cooled flat-six, just in time for the model’s 60th anniversary.
Mounted in the rear of the aptly named Ruf Tribute 911-lookalike, the 3.6-liter powerplant was designed by Alois Ruf Jr. himself – the founder of the company – and features twin turbochargers, 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.
Gallery: RUF Tribute
The unique engine makes 550 horsepower at 6,750 rpm and 553 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm and is packed with modern tech like twin intercoolers, hydraulic valve adjustment, fly-by-wire throttle, two-stage resonance induction, and dual catalytic converters.
Revealed at this year’s edition of The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, the Ruf Tribute features a carbon fiber chassis, an integrated roll cage, and double-wishbone suspension all-around with inboard pushrod-actuated KW coilovers.
Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, and it’s unclear if Ruf will build more units of the air-cooled custom two-door sports car or if it will remain a one-off.
Alongside the Tribute, Ruf brought two other Porsche look-alikes at Monterey Car Week: the CTR3 Evo and the R Spyder. The former is a track-focused two-seater with a steel chassis, carbon fiber body, and integrated roll cage powered by a water-cooled 3.8-liter flat-six making 800 hp and 730 lb-ft, all of which goes to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. At the same time, the former is Ruf’s take on a 911 Speedster and features two individual small windscreens for the driver and the passenger and a double-rollover bar, while a roof is nowhere to be seen.
The Ruf R Spyder is powered by a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six that makes 515 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.