The company was founded in 1939 in Pfaffenhausen, Germany as "Auto Ruf" by Alois Ruf Sr. as a service garage and was eventually expanded to include a full-service gas station in 1949. Ruf began experimenting with vehicle designs of his own in the late 1940s, and in 1955 designed and built a tour bus, which he marketed around Germany. The positive response it received led to Ruf expanding his business again by starting his own separately owned bus company.
Ruf debuted their first complete model in 1977, a tuned version of Porsche's 930 with a stroked 3.3 litre motor. This was followed in 1978 by Ruf's first complete non-turbo Porsche, the 911 SCR. It was a naturally aspirated 911 with a stroked 3.2 litre motor producing 217 horsepower. Numerous customer orders were placed for this vehicle.
The 1987 Ruf CTR achieved a top speed of 339 km/h (211 mph) in April 1987 and set the record as the world's fastest production car for its time; in 1988 it even reached 342 km/h (213 mph). Its successor, the 1995 Ruf CTR2, had clocked a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph).
Alois Ruf's creations became wilder and more divergent from their Porsche roots, with the culmination being the 2017 RUF CTR, the similar RUF SCR, and perhaps the equally outrageous RUF Rodeo. Clearly an homage to the Yellowbird, the newer CTR looks vintage but is perhaps the one RUF least related to a Porsche.