RUF-restored 1963 Porsche 901 wins multiple honours at Pebble Beach Concours
Alois Ruf Jr, head of RUF Automobile GmbH, took home the Art Centre College of Design Award and Best in Class (in the Porsche seventy-fifth anniversary category) with his restored 1963 901 at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. These wins come on the tail of Ruf’s recent successes with the car at Concorso Eleganza Villa d’Este, where it won not only Best in Class, but also the award for Best Iconic Car. Chassis number six, once owned by both Ferdinand Piëch and Hans Mezger, is the oldest known 911 in existence.
Growing up surrounded by Porsches at his father’s service and maintenance garage in Pfaffenhausen, it was inevitable Alois Jr would get involved — Alois Sr first serviced Stuttgart-crested sports cars in 1963. Alois Jr was bitten by the 911 bug the following year, when, aged fourteen, he was riding in the family car on the autobahn. “It was a rainy day in April,” he recalls. “We visited the Bauma heavy equipment show in Munich. My father took me to see the cranes and earth-moving machinery. We were travelling at about 85mph. Suddenly, a blue 901 flew by. I’d never seen a 911 prototype, obviously. Rain was falling hard and the spray kicking up from the road was incredible. Our car shook from the wind of the slipstream. I couldn’t believe the sound of the aircooled flat-six.” The car leaving such a significant impression on the young petrolhead’s mind was this very 901.
For Alois Jr’s nineteenth birthday, his parents gifted him a 911 wrecked by the previous owner. Alois Jr kept the car in his garage for decades, during which time he focused his attention on building RUF Automobile into the revered brand it is today. He eventually decided to restore the car and began the work in 2019.
Of course, he knew this was a pre-series 901, but further research confirmed it originally served as a company car for Ferdinand Piëch, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche and then head of the Porsche motorsport department. When Piëch was finished with the beautiful blue Porsche, ownership passed to legendary factory engineer, Hans Mezger. After driving the car for two years, Mezger sold it to a local businessman, who promptly wrecked it on a race track. Ruf Sr then purchased the damaged Porsche as a project for his son.
A significant facet of RUF Automobile’s business is restoration, driven by Alois Jr’s deep-seated fervour for air-cooled Porsches. Indeed, RUF has now restored six of the surviving eighty-two pre-series 901s manufactured. “I remember when there was no interest in the early 911,” he smiles. “Greater enthusiasm existed for the 356, but the balance has now changed. Early 911s are proving most popular. I remember seeing photographs of the 901 in Hobby, a German magazine, which published spy pictures of this curvaceous new Porsche. Nobody knew what the name of the model was. What the magazine did know, however, was that this was a new two-litre Porsche and was likely powered by a sixcylinder engine. The prototype was shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1963. I will never forget seeing it, but I couldn’t have imagined the impact this little Porsche would have on the rest of my life.” We know exactly what he means. So does his trophy cabinet.