The Porsche Boxster is a two-seat, mid-engined, rear wheel drive roadster. The mid-engine layout provides a low center of gravity, near-perfect weight distribution, and neutral handling. In layman’s terms.. a blast to drive through curvy roads.
The first-generation Boxster (the 986) was introduced in late 1996; it was powered by a 2.5 liter flat six-cylinder engine. The design was heavily influenced by the 1992 Boxster Concept. In 2000, the base model was upgraded to a 2.7 liter engine and the new Boxster S variant was introduced with a 3.2 litre engine. In 2003, styling and engine output was upgraded on both variants.
In 2005, Porsche unveiled the second generation of Boxster: the type 987. The 987 is more powerful than its predecessor and featured styling inspired by the Porsche Carrera GT. Engine output increased in 2007, when both Boxster models received the engines from their corresponding Porsche Cayman variants. In 2009, the Boxster models received several new cosmetic and mechanical upgrades, further increasing engine output and performance.
2005–2008 Porsche Boxster S
In appearance the car remains very similar to the previous generation. The most obvious styling change is to the headlights, which now have a profile similar to those of the Carrera GT, Porsche’s mid-engined supercar. The intake vents on the sides of the Boxster are now larger, with more pronounced horizontal slats and are colored metallic silver, irrespective of the paint color on the rest of the car. The wheel arches have been enlarged to allow wheels up to 19 inches in diameter, a first for the Boxster series. The most significant updates from the 986 series are in the interior, with a more prominent circular theme evident in the instrument cluster and cooling vents. Porsche claims that the 987 Boxster shares only 20% of its components with its predecessor. The base engine is a 2.7 L 176 kW (240 hp) flat-6, with the Boxster S getting a 3.2 L 206 kW (280 hp) engine. The Cayman coupe is derived from the 987.
For 2007 the base Boxster received a revised engine featuring VarioCam Plus to provide a 5 hp (3.7 kW) boost (245 hp (183 kW) the same as the Cayman). The Boxster S engine was upgraded from 3.2L to 3.4L, resulting in the production of 15 hp (11 kW) more (295 hp (220 kW) the same as the Cayman S). These upgrades made the Boxster series and the Cayman series equivalent in terms of power.
The third generation Boxster was introduced in 2012. The new Boxster reflects the new design language from the 911 (991) and 918, and features new and revised engine and transmission specifications. Together with a new body, the type 981 Boxster features a new chassis; 40 per cent more torsionally rigid, the front track is 40mm wider, the rear 18mm wider and the wheelbase extended by 60mm, but all resulting in a small weight reduction of up to 35 kilograms (77 lb) compared to the previous type 987 Boxster.
The standard Boxster is fitted with a new 2.7-litre flat-6 engines, and the Boxster S is fitted with the existing 3.4-litre engine but with revised performance. Both engines are equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox and an optional 7-speed reworked PDK. Both manual and automatic models are available with several technical options including Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) and a Sport Chrono Package that includes active transmission mounts, and makes the PDK-equipped model even faster. Porsche claims that the new generation Boxster provides fuel savings of 15% over the outgoing model.
The range was expanded in March 2014 with the addition of the GTS derivative, with slightly altered front and rear bumpers and an additional 15bhp from the 3.4-litre engine.
High mileage Boxsters are cheap, but you get what you pay for. Expect to put $2k or more into your older, high mileage Boxster the first year of ownership. If you don’t have this extra cash, put off buying the car until you do. Count the costs of buying an older car before you get all worked up about buying one in particular. Cheap Boxsters always cost more than newer ones with fewer miles on them. Period.
Buy as new a Boxster as you can possibly afford, and save up for the S (3.2L). Preferably, one with some remaining factory warranty on it. This will come in handy those first few months of ownership when the radiator overflow tank leaks, you discover a small rear main seal drip, etc. Everything is expensive to repair, so getting PCNA to pay for the first couple of rounds will quickly offset the extra money you paid for a newer one.
Pricing on used Boxsters is absolutely wild. You can find two Boxsters that are nearly identical in features, engine size and mileage and the price can differ as much as $4000 or more. Do your homework and know the value of the model year you are seeking to buy.
Buy one from an individual who loved the car and took care of it. If you can possibly buy a one-owner Boxster who has kept good maintenance records, even if the mileage is high, you’re doing better than buying one from a dealer where the car’s been driven by 2+ owners and serviced at multiple dealerships around the country. It’s just too hard to find out about work done on the car when it’s been in a number of owner’s hands at different cities. Unlike most other car dealerships, Porsche service department people cannot tell you what work has been done on your Porsche if it was not serviced at that particular dealership. You can look at the Carfax report, find out where it’s been titled and call the dealers in those cities asking them to look up your VIN#, but there are no guarantees. Of course, work done on the car at a non-Porsche dealership will be unknown, so assuming maintenance was not done is the only safe assumption if the car doesn’t have authentic records.
Your PPI (Pre Purchase Inspection) should include a 4-wheel, laser alignment. Most PPI’s don’t come with this, so you’ll need to pay extra for it, but it will quickly show you if the car’s been wrecked and not repaired properly. The car may never drive or look wrecked, but then fade to the right when you let go of the wheel…and the alignment could bring out what is wrong (bent front subframe and bent rear strut. Ouch!).
Boxsters eat tires, brakes, and brake discs. If you get more than 15k out of a set of rubber, you have bragging rights for sure. Brake pads are soft, and their wear point has a lot to do with how often and how hard you depress the brake pedal… but if you enjoy the gas pedal, the brake pedal use will increase as well. Brake discs cannot be turned, only replaced. Every third set of pads require new discs.
Find a reputable Porsche mechanic before you take possession of your out-of-warranty Boxster. He must have (or have ready access to) a PST2 (a laptop-looking diagnostic tool) to discover most of the engine-related issues. Many dealership mechanics are moonlighting on the side, and that’s not a bad choice because they work on them all day and you can supply them parts bought cheap over the internet and save big bucks.
Ensure the Boxster you buy has the following:
- Two remote keys that work well. Replacements are $265 each and a real pain to secure (parts counter, bringing in your car for programming, etc.).
– Manuals for the car. Expensive and needed as the car isn’t a “self-discovery” kind of vehicle (the manual is actually very helpful).
– Tools for changing tires and towing. Find out what came with the car and demand it be sold with these items or pay a premium for them later.
- Rollbar inserts & Lexan clear center windscreen. Also very expensive after the fact and without them, top-down driving is like being in a tornado.
– Lots of speakers. If it doesn’t have door speakers, you’ll hate the stereo system. With door speakers, it’s tolerable, but not enjoyable with the top down. The rear storage box with speakers is the best scenario and will save you big bucks later. Absolute best factory system is the Bose setup, which has a sub woofer and mid range speakers in a custom-designed rear speaker enclosure (BTW, the Bose option came with a center windscreen, so if this is missing pitch a fit over it!).
- Upgraded convertible top transmission cables. If you see a diamond pattern on them, they’re the newer reinforced version and won’t stretch, which causes expensive repairs.
– Coolant tank is not leaking (take up the carpet around it and look for wet spots).
– Oddments Tray hinge is intact (the little flip-up storage space below your elbow).
– A fairly clean record of not being redlined repeatedly. The way you find this out is to have the Boxster hooked up to a PST2 tool and the mechanic can query the OBC for this information. If it’s been redlined a lot, walk away, even if it’s under factory warranty. PCNA is quick to inform you that you (or previous owners) have trashed the engine and they will refuse to pay for a replacement, even if the engine is faulty. It’s a loophole you do not want them to use, and believe me, they will use it if they can. Engines are expensive!
Early engines had a small number of failures, due to cracked or slipped cylinder liners, which were resolved by a minor redesign in 2000. Likely by now these engines have failed and been replaced, but this is something to be aware of. Engines are expensive to replace.
Here are the Top Problems reported.
1. Various faults due to an internal leak at the Oil Separator
Smoke, oil consumption, and fuel trim issues with various fault codes can be traced to an internal leak at the oil separator.
2. Power windows won’t lower due to failing cabriolet top/door handle micro switch
The power windows not lowering when the Cabriolet top latch and/or door handle is operated or lowering unexpectedly while driving can be caused by a failing Cabriolet top or door handle micro switch. Diagnoses will be required to determine which switch is at fault and will require replacement.
3. Electrical portion of ignition switch may become erratic or fail
If the vehicle cannot return to run position after start or if the interior fan is not getting power, it may be the electrical portion of the ignition switch has become erratic or has failed. The entire switch assembly should be replaced.
4. Water leaks in the cabriolet top due to clogged drains
5. Rear main seal/intermediate support cover O-ring may leak oil
6. The factory intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing is weak.
There are aftermarket, more robust units produced. The time to replace this is when you have your clutch replaced. While you are in there, it would be good to replace the rear main seal as well.