This Is How Much Better Tires and a Few Decades Make a Difference

Gif: Tv Box

It’s easy to forget that cars—even or especially performance cars—do get markedly better over time. Take this comparison of a 1987 Ruf CTR and a 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 on the same stretch of the Nürburgring. The Ruf driver is engaged in battle, while the 911 driver might as well have been sipping tea.


Listen, if you can:

As some Reddit commenters point out in this thread, tires are a big factor here, since tire tech has improved remarkably in even that short amount of time.

Take this from from a few years back:

All these advances have come through extensive modeling of tires and road conditions on super computers. Computer modeling has answered the “what if” questions for engineers — “what if” we added this chemical; “what if” we changed the belts; “what if” the molecule of rubber were shaped differently. Finding such answers with prototype tires took too much money and too much testing time. Now tire engineers work at the nanometer level (one billionth).

Tire companies are altering how the various chemical elements in the tire link together, to make the product last longer, or be stickier, or both. Some tires use multiple tread compounds across the face of the tire, each for a specific weather condition. Goodyear’s TripleTred uses three.

Materials in the tires have evolved, growing both stronger and lighter; the weight of the tire has come down and the strength has gone up. Steel belts have replaced fabric cord. Less weight in the tire means better fuel economy and sharper handling. Goodyear makes extensive use of Kevlar in tires, as it’s stronger and lighter than steel, and is starting to make use of carbon-fibre. Lower tire weight has made lower profile tires possible.

And this is not even to mention suspension and transmission improvements. I’m sure the Ruf driver had more fun, though, even if he probably felt like his steering wheel was only vaguely connected to the front wheels.

[h/t u/IIStroke]



It’s more than tires in this case.

Although tires are a big part of it, the 87 911 used a semi-trailing suspension design that dated back to the 60s and was inadequate to place the wider tires of the era. Then the power delivery of the 911 Turbos of the era was non-linear with lots of lag. To make matters even worse, the stock 911 Turbo (which was considered evil) was 300 hp at the time and this car was putting 463 hp at the wheels. So, the non-linear throttle and turbo lag was turned up to 11.

And we also don’t know about the new 911 if the driver is using electronic nannies such as stability control or traction control. At the very least, he’s got ABS making sure he doesn’t lock up a wheel. Given he has a passenger and seems to be talking to him, it appears he is taking it easy too.

Finally... there is the driver. From what I can tell , the driver in 1987 was a motor journalist. He has amazing car control skills, but he is not as smooth as he needs to be, especially in the car he is driving. It was a promotional video for Ruf and the insane ability of the car to get sideways is part of the fun.  It feels more like showing the in-car camera for Clarkson than The Stig.