Instantly, though, I connect with the car in a way I never could with the previous two. It's obvious there's power going to the front wheels and the confidence this builds in me cannot be ignored. Every gear brings on colossal speed, yet it all feels remarkably safe. It has predictable, usable power and there's no discernable turbo lag to spoil progress. The brakes do a fine job of hauling it up and, color-coded interior aside, I could live with this.
Any 911 Turbo is an extreme car-always has been, always will be-but for proper extreme thrills I've saved the best 'til last: the Ruf. Photographer Lipman, being a fanatic for the older cars (he owns a '72 911T), bags a passenger ride-I think he's fully aware that this is the real wild child of the bunch.
Out of the few Flatnose 930s converted by Ruf to BTR-3 specification, two are believed to have been cabriolets-meaning this is one of probably eight coupes. That would be rare enough, but this one is actually unique, as Malton's boss explains, "We've tried to maintain the car's Ruf heritage but at the same time brought it up to date in some respects," he says. "It's a 22-year-old 911 at the end of the day but I think it'd give absolutely anything out there a run for its money. Ruf reckoned they'd tested this at 211 mph, which is incredible when you consider how far back that was. I've had it reading 200 myself-it's an absolute animal."
Malton has carried out further mods, apart from the obvious cosmetic changes. "About 500 miles ago the engine was rebuilt. We fitted a much larger turbo that was rated to 750 hp, the heads were gas flowed, and stainless steel valves were fitted. It's now a 3.8-liter and we built a custom exhaust system for it." What's the power output now? "I don't think 550 hp is too wide off the mark ..."
Back to the drive and Lipman is giggling like a schoolgirl as First is selected and we move off. The gearbox is pretty horrid-a bit like stirring soup-and First is a dogleg, which is always enough to confuse the couple of brain cells I have left. Stirring for Second, I eventually find it and gun the throttle. We're pinned into our seats as all hell breaks loose. The boost gauge is zinging up and down and I get to Third. Even by this stage I could lose my license and in the blink of an eye we're doing 200 km/h-which is 125 mph. Still in Third, still accelerating hard, I back off, and worry I may have soiled myself.
By now Lipman seems to have developed Tourette's syndrome. It's brutal, raw, shocking-and I'm not just talking about his language. This has to be the maddest 911 I've ever driven. Totally insane, it wants to rip off our heads, dismember us, and then go to work on us. Balls-out, hairy-chested, crazy, and totally addictive, with no driver aids, no concessions to modernity, and definitely no compromise, this is truly a scary proposition, making any GT2 seem a bit, well, limp wristed.
Out of all four cars I've been privileged to give a thrashing today on these wide-open roads, it's the Ruf that leaves the biggest impression. It's old school in the extreme and shouldn't really be allowed on the road. Lag is immense: select a gear, floor the throttle, then wait. And wait. But be prepared for a riotous shove in the back once that huge blower spools up because it's the closest you'll get to a bungee jump on four wheels. A slingshot doesn't come close to describing the effect once the turbo is doing its stuff.
I adore it but I couldn't live with it for obvious reasons. For me personally, the green 996 Turbo is the best all-rounder. As a standard car it's pretty hard to find fault but this is just a little bit edgier, while still treating its occupants to warp speed whenever the accelerator is squeezed. It feels safe, usable, exploitable. Pirelli's advertising used to say, "Power is nothing without control," and this Turbo has plenty of both, making it my personal weapon of choice.