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Old 03-17-2017, 05:46 AM   #1
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Base or S model? Feedback Requested...

Hello all,

I've been interested in purchasing a 986 for a while now and have been doing my homework on cost of ownership, known issues and their associated costs to resolve, need to perform and record regular maintenance, driving experience, etc. Given all of this information, I'm looking to purchase a manual transmission 2003 - 2004 model year with options like litronic headlights, cruise control, and heated seats. The problem is, I've found an earlier base model 986 in great shape, with many of the known issue conditions recently completed (LN Engineering IMS, AOS) and new clutch and tires. The price is appropriate for the model and year and will get me into a 986 that can be driven right away with maybe just a few non-necessary things that I'd like to do.

Within my other cars, I have the options mentioned in the S model above. So not having them in a vehicle I plan to drive to work only sometimes, but mostly on weekends in good weather may not be necessary. So my question is, is there that much of a difference with the driving experience of a 986S and the upgrades associated with this model (more HP, suspension, brakes, etc.) to not purchase the base model with good maintenance record and replacement of key components?

Thanks
Joe
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:06 AM   #2
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Joe, I've driven both the S and the Base. You can definitely feel a difference in power and handling with the S, but to be perfectly honest, the base model is really a lot of car. I own a base, and it's capabilities on track still exceed my abilities, and probably always will.

I had to do the IMS/RMS/AOS/Clutch, etc., when I bought my boxster, and it set me back to the tune of $5K. If I were in your shoes, I'd go for the base model with all of the work already done.

Good luck, and keep us posted!
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:07 AM   #3
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I'm in almost the exactly the same spot. I have my eye on a local '03 base model with the IMS done, low km, needs very little. The only real issue is that it is not an S and not much cheaper than some of the S models I have my eye on. Unfortunately they are all far away so I have to deal with transport costs. I think I would be happy with the car and I would buy it were it $3-4 k cheaper than the S model. Often I don't keep my cars long so resale value is an issue. I really don't want to rush in and pay too much. It seems that the market agrees with me because its not getting snapped up. There are almost a dozen 986s I have my eye on that aren't selling and just not priced right IMHO.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:10 AM   #4
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Have you driven the S and base somewhat side by side?
If not do so

David
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:21 AM   #5
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Thanks for the great feedback Need_for Speed. I like the idea of the IMS, clutch , etc. being performed (especially very recently) prior to purchase. It take the guess work out of needing to do so right away. Anything else that's likely to be needed I can probably do myself with a little help from these forums and youtube. I'm thinking the extra HP may not be necessary since I'll likely never track the car, but simply fun to have available.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:24 AM   #6
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Luckyman - No I have not, but would really like to Where I'm located it's not that easy to get out and test drive this model car. Just not that many available that I can travel to and test drive within a reasonable amount of time. And you're right, doing so would provide me with much better idea of performance between the two models.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:26 AM   #7
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356Guy - I see the same, many cars with high mileage that seem priced too high for my liking or too far away to consider.
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Old 03-17-2017, 07:05 AM   #8
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Joe, I own an 03 S that I bought new. At the time I bought it, dealers still had unsold 02 S's in stock at bigger discounts, but not with the options I wanted, PSM, cruise control and heated seats, and I really wanted the glass rear window and glove box. I have to say that I like the lines of the 02 and earlier Boxsters better - the front and rear bumpers are much cleaner, and when the top is up on the earlier years, it looks cleaner with less bows and a more raked rear window! I have a friend in California who bought a non S manual car last year and I got to drive it a bit out there. If you're going to buy a manual car, and don't mind doing more shifting to stay within the power band, I think the non S is fine. I call myself a "lazy" manual driver in that I like to stay in the same gear over a wider speed range, cruising around town in 3rd gear, and able to still accelerate on the highway in 5th or 6th gear. That is where the S makes a difference for me on the street. I've done 2 HPDE events now with my S, and I'm sure I could soil my pants in the base car too on the track! Enjoy the search, that is a lot of the fun. Take a look at the Boxsters that are listed for sale in the online classifieds of the Porsche Club of America website and the online classifieds of Excellence Magazine in addition to all the other places you're shopping.
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Old 03-17-2017, 07:19 AM   #9
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You will find many here saying S is the only way to go and there are also many who have a base (like me) and are perfectly happy. Drive it yourself and make up your own mind.
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Old 03-17-2017, 07:54 AM   #10
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Bear in mind that there were fewer 03 & 04 models built so the availability may not be the same as the more plentiful Pre 03 models.

Here are the production numbers by year and model.

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Old 03-17-2017, 09:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulofto View Post
Bear in mind that there were fewer 03 & 04 models built so the availability may not be the same as the more plentiful Pre 03 models.

Here are the production numbers by year and model.

I didnt realize they turned down production toward the end of the 986. Oh good, I have the rare 04S... LOL

I have driven both when I was test driving, I went with the S. I felt the difference and liked it.

Last edited by Frank N; 03-17-2017 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 03-17-2017, 09:23 AM   #12
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Old 03-17-2017, 09:41 AM   #13
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I didnt realize they turned down production toward the end of the 986. Oh good, I have the rare 04S... LOL

I have driven both when I was test driving, I went with the S. I felt the difference and liked it.
With the 97 Boxster introduced in 96, buy 03 it was getting to be an old model. I think it was demand that drove down production, but I guess I'm happy mine is rare too!
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:10 AM   #14
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This topic comes up every so often:
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/65450-base-vs-s-weight.html
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/59437-base-s-model.html
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/52676-base-vs-s.html

You mention suspension as an upgraded feature of the S, but I don't think that's true. It may be slightly differently tuned to work better with the added power (and rear axle weight) of the S, and/or presence of lack of a tiptronic, (these options all significantly affect rear axle weight). For either base or "S" model Boxter, M030 is the option you'll want for the upgraded/sportier suspension.
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:25 AM   #15
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I have never actually heard someone say "I wish I had less horsepower."
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:22 AM   #16
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Yes you have heard someone who owned both say less HP was more fun. Heck my 85HP 914 was more fun that either but then I was much younger then... I could keep my foot down longer and harder without attracting the government's attention (In the '99 201HP and '01S 250HP I never got a ticket in Arctic Silver cars, not saying there weren't times I didn't deserve one.).

Now are there suspension, brakes, engine power improvements in the S? Yes. See here.)

The big difference comes in the '03 and I'd gladly have the 228HP base '03 over my '01S 250HP S. But you can change the entire roof assembly from an '03-'04 onto a earlier '97-;02 chassis. Not so the glove compartment.

The downside of the S is the wear in the driveshaft CV and CV boots due to the different angle the 6 speed imposes. A matter of personal preferences is the ratios of the 5 speed from the base are often preferred to those of the 6 speed of the S.
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:48 AM   #17
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...The downside of the S is the wear in the driveshaft CV and CV boots due to the different angle the 6 speed imposes. A matter of personal preferences is the ratios of the 5 speed from the base are often preferred to those of the 6 speed of the S.
Yeah, I've seen the underside of my car while it was on a lift and those halfshaft angles are something. I didn't know that the base model doesn't share that trait! I did see a 987 Cayman underside once, not sure if it was an S or not, but I noticed the halfshafts were more or less square to the transaxle!
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:54 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakeru View Post
This topic comes up every so often:
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/65450-base-vs-s-weight.html
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/59437-base-s-model.html
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/52676-base-vs-s.html

You mention suspension as an upgraded feature of the S, but I don't think that's true. It may be slightly differently tuned to work better with the added power (and rear axle weight) of the S, and/or presence of lack of a tiptronic, (these options all significantly affect rear axle weight). For either base or "S" model Boxter, M030 is the option you'll want for the upgraded/sportier suspension.
Below is for 2004 S
Quote:
The Boxster S rides on an optimized sport suspension. Compared to the standard
Boxster, the Boxster S suspension features higher-rate springs and shock damping, longer rear lower control arms that increase toe-in stiffness, larger wheel bearings that increase camber stiffness to provide high-speed cornering stability
http://press.porsche.com/archive/products/press_kits/press_kits_2004/PDF/new/8-10_Boxster_S_Release.pdf
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:26 AM   #19
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Thanks Frank_N, I thought I read that somewhere, just didn't know it was specifically for the 2004 model year.

Joe
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:35 AM   #20
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Thanks Mike Focke, I've read most of the information you've provided on your website and it's great for those us thinking of getting into a 986 and those who already have them. Truly appreciate the work you've gone through to make this available.

Joe
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