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Old 02-16-2016, 06:35 AM   #1
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Buyer question

Hi, I am brand new to this forum and to the Boxster family.

My wife had a slight windfall and offered to buy me an inexpensive car to tinker with. Not a daily driver, but one I could have fun with. I am very mechanical and have worked on several lines of cars, just never a Porsche.

My budget (really set by me) was pretty low at $5000. So I started searching the ads. I found pretty beat up 97s for around 3k, but needed a lot of mechanical and cosmetic work. But I ran across the one below. I can make the deal for around $4k. The only problem. It won't start. 97000 miles, looks like nice condition, with a hard top. Third owner. Throwing a CEL.

I would like to get an OBDII scanner on it to find out the reason for the CEL, but I'm in Tucson, and I just don't know where to borrow or rent or even buy a scanner that can read Porsche codes. He has other people who want to see it. I could take a chance that it is something like a Camshaft Position Sensor, or it could I guess be a lot worse.

Give me your opinion. I know one that is running is far preferable, but also far more expensive. Thanks for your help! Tom



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Old 02-16-2016, 06:56 AM   #2
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Assume that the engine is toast.

Assume that everything the seller says is a lie unless it is backed up by paperwork.

Assuming its a simple and easy fix is a fools errand - you don't think that the owner or the owners brother or the owners mechanic didn't check it out? Of course they did. But selling a car with an "unknown" engine problem sounds better than selling a car with a known blown engine. In this equation, the seller is shifting all risk to the buyer. How lucky do you feel?

Also, beware all of the other things that can/will be wrong that you can't check because the engine doesn't run; power steering, air conditioning, electrical, transmission, cooling system, drive shafts, etc, etc, etc. I bought a Boxster with a blown engine for $3K that the seller swore had nothing else wrong with it. It cost me an additional $1,500 to fix all of the other things wrong beside the engine. Be sure to plan for the unexpected into your budget.

Now, you can think about how to proceed.

A salvage engine will run $2000-$5000 depending on miles and how good you are at finding a deal. You should be able to do the engine swap yourself.

Good luck!
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Old 02-16-2016, 07:05 AM   #3
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You're not encouraging me much. The car is in Sierra Vista, AZ - far from any Porsche service. I do agree that sellers information is unreliable. Sounds to me like I should just pay a little more for a running car.

Last edited by tada; 02-16-2016 at 07:09 AM.
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Old 02-16-2016, 07:11 AM   #4
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You're not encouraging me much. The car is in Sierra Vista, AZ - far from any Porsche service. I do agree that sellers information is unreliable. Sound to me like I should just pay a little more for a running car.
Sorry, I don't mean to be discouraging - but I do mean to be realistic. The reality is that there is a lot of risk in buying a non-running Porsche.

It all comes down to how comfortable you are with that risk. Some people are willing to take the chance and some are not. No one can tell you (including me) exactly what you are really getting into. Could be easy - could be a nightmare - most likely to be somewhere in between - but no one can say for sure.

There isn't any right answer.

Is there any chance that the owner will let you pay to have the car flatbedded to a shop for an inspection? This might be the best $500-$700 that you could spend because it would tell you exactly what you're getting into.

The one thing I can say is that if you do decide to jump in, the folks on this forum will help you every step of the way. The knowledge and helpfulness here is unmatched and unrivaled (IMHO).
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Old 02-16-2016, 08:00 AM   #5
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You're not encouraging me much. The car is in Sierra Vista, AZ - far from any Porsche service. I do agree that sellers information is unreliable. Sounds to me like I should just pay a little more for a running car.
You are potentially playing Russia Roulette here, the car could have anything between a loose wire to a trashed engine. Without experienced eyes looking at the car, the repair could range from a couple of bucks to several times the purchase price. Either have someone look at the car, or move on to anther candidate.
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Old 02-16-2016, 08:12 AM   #6
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If you can get it down to $3k it might be worth taking the risk. If it ends up going wrong you can sell the hardtop assuming it's in good condition for $800 to $1,200 and then sell the car as a roller. $4k is too much for a non-S Boxster with unknown isses. BTW - take the hardtop off and see what condition the top is in. A new top even if you do it yourself is going to run you about $600.

I'm sure you know there are plenty of used Boxsters in the Phoenix area and plenty of good Porsche shops that can do a PPI (a must in my opinion) for you. If you need a few names PM me. At about $5k you can find '97 to '99 Boxsters. Even at this price they are going to need help. Good luck.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:04 AM   #7
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If you can get it down to $3k it might be worth taking the risk. If it ends up going wrong you can sell the hardtop assuming it's in good condition for $800 to $1,200 and then sell the car as a roller. $4k is too much for a non-S Boxster with unknown isses. BTW - take the hardtop off and see what condition the top is in. A new top even if you do it yourself is going to run you about $600.

I'm sure you know there are plenty of used Boxsters in the Phoenix area and plenty of good Porsche shops that can do a PPI (a must in my opinion) for you. If you need a few names PM me. At about $5k you can find '97 to '99 Boxsters. Even at this price they are going to need help. Good luck.
I'm going to go with everyone's advice and pass on this one for now and wait to see the interest. I agree in the Phoenix/Tucson area there are others in the price range that run.
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Old 02-16-2016, 09:26 AM   #8
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I'm going to go with everyone's advice and pass on this one for now and wait to see the interest. I agree in the Phoenix/Tucson area there are others in the price range that run.
Good advice by all, but if you want to buy a Boxster go ahead & buy the Durametric software for Porsche's. You need a laptop, then you can scan the cel & see what caused it & have some insight as to why it won't run. Also will tell you if the engine has been overreved enough to damage engine. Also remove oil filter canister to inspect for metal.
I would buy the car if it passed these simple tests. Keeping in mind it's a $ 8,000 car if it runs decently.

PS. A hardtop in Tucson is useless & a pain to store or sell.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:23 AM   #9
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Wise decision.

If the owner could make it run and get $8K for it instead, I'm sure he would have.

Don't give it another thought, just move on to something that you know is working. There are plenty to choose from if you search online.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:27 AM   #10
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Someone on this site once stated...

"The most expensive car I have ever owned was one of the cheapest cars I've ever bought."

There's no such thing as a cheap Porsche.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:42 AM   #11
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It wasn't my original thought, but I've quoted that phrase a hundred times on this forum since 2004 when I bought my "amazingly low priced 1997 Boxster."

OP: Best to buy a running Boxster if you can find one in your price range, but just know that even a well kept Boxster in the $5000 price range is going to need a couple of grand in repairs and maintenance every year you own it, and some years it will be double that... or it will sit in the garage getting dusty.
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Old 02-16-2016, 01:52 PM   #12
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Ok, one more vehicle in Tucson to consider:

1997 Boxster Base
121000 miles
Needs O2 sensors
Radiator is leaking
Starts and runs
$3400 (asking price)

Paint is a little faded. Seats are worn and torn. Top and body is in pretty good shape.

Any thoughts?
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Old 02-16-2016, 01:53 PM   #13
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If I had a budget of $5000 I'd be looking at an Mazda MX5, first gen SLK or maybe even an SL with some miles and questionable history before diving into a non running Boxster. There's a lot of $8000 Boxsters out there, good running with some history. Can you spend a little more?
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Old 02-16-2016, 02:02 PM   #14
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If I had a budget of $5000 I'd be looking at an Mazda MX5, first gen SLK or maybe even an SL with some miles and questionable history before diving into a non running Boxster. There's a lot of $8000 Boxsters out there, good running with some history. Can you spend a little more?
That's the next decision. If all of the Boxsters in my price range don't pan out, I will have to wait, save some more, and then resume the hunt. But a lot of the good runners I am finding have prices that are way too much to spend. An example is a 97 Base with 110000 miles for $10000.
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Old 02-16-2016, 02:41 PM   #15
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tada: on that 97 boxster, the 02 sensors will cost you $425 (parts only) or so to replace (all four should be replaced at the same time). Is the radiator leaking or the coolant overflow tank? The coolant overflow tank is a typical problem area for the Boxster and I had to replace mine. These are about $200 for the part and about 2 hours of knuckle bleeding installation. Seats can be purchased at some point from someone turning their Boxster or 996 into a race car.

Aside from motor issues, a 97 with this many miles (similar to my car in a lot of ways) will probably need wheel bearings and all the control arms and drop links replaced, and possibly the struts if they're original. That's gonna set you back $2500 or more for parts alone for new genuine Pcar parts. (I'd buy good quality used parts off a low mileage wrecked 2000's model though b/c they're the same pieces and a lot cheaper than new or noisy aftermarket suspension parts.

Hope this helps!

PS - That 99 box with 110k on it for $10,000??? That would be my car if I sold it because it's been fully sorted and is very dependable and doesn't need anything... Every part on the car has been changed out with the exception of the dash, the body work, and one of the radiators and the fluid lines. New motor, newer tranny, new interior, xenon headlamps, new tail lamps, glass window top, new windshield, wheel bearings and suspension replaced, etc. ... which explains why I cannot sell my car. I have $40k or more in it now and it's not even worth $10,000 to guys in the market for one. Oh well.
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Old 02-16-2016, 03:23 PM   #16
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tada: on that 97 boxster, the 02 sensors will cost you $425 (parts only) or so to replace (all four should be replaced at the same time). Is the radiator leaking or the coolant overflow tank? The coolant overflow tank is a typical problem area for the Boxster and I had to replace mine. These are about $200 for the part and about 2 hours of knuckle bleeding installation. Seats can be purchased at some point from someone turning their Boxster or 996 into a race car.

Aside from motor issues, a 97 with this many miles (similar to my car in a lot of ways) will probably need wheel bearings and all the control arms and drop links replaced, and possibly the struts if they're original. That's gonna set you back $2500 or more for parts alone for new genuine Pcar parts. (I'd buy good quality used parts off a low mileage wrecked 2000's model though b/c they're the same pieces and a lot cheaper than new or noisy aftermarket suspension parts.

Hope this helps!

PS - That 99 box with 110k on it for $10,000??? That would be my car if I sold it because it's been fully sorted and is very dependable and doesn't need anything... Every part on the car has been changed out with the exception of the dash, the body work, and one of the radiators and the fluid lines. New motor, newer tranny, new interior, xenon headlamps, new tail lamps, glass window top, new windshield, wheel bearings and suspension replaced, etc. ... which explains why I cannot sell my car. I have $40k or more in it now and it's not even worth $10,000 to guys in the market for one. Oh well.
Well, just saw the 97 and it was beat! The left radiator was introduced to a curb and now leaks. The car ran really rough. The interior was ok. The body was heavily oxidized. The passenger fender was dented. Both bumpers looked really worked over. I guess the search continues. I'll just wait for the Durametric tester to get here.
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Old 02-16-2016, 03:26 PM   #17
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tada: on that 97 boxster, the 02 sensors will cost you $425 (parts only) or so to replace (all four should be replaced at the same time).
Someone played a cruel joke on you advising that... If it was your mechanic, find a new one ASAP!!!

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Old 02-16-2016, 03:56 PM   #18
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That red 97 is begging for a new life as a spec Boxster racecar!
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Old 02-16-2016, 04:30 PM   #19
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There are some good ones in texas, often good drivers for less than 7 or 8k
Houston, san antonio, etc but again that woulb de the tip of the iceberg, from there pcars are a money pit (well worh for us that love them and don't mind wrenching or paying premium part and labor prices)
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Old 02-16-2016, 05:48 PM   #20
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Someone played a cruel joke on you advising that... If it was your mechanic, find a new one ASAP!!!

It's not inadvisable. If you don't replace them at the same time they don't get any younger. At the least they should be replaced in pairs.
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