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Old 07-06-2018, 09:19 AM   #1
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97 Boxster ... deal / no deal?!

Hello everyone! So excited to begin my life experience of becoming a Porsche owner. Been my favorite car since I can remember. After doing tons of due diligent reading, I am still lacking in the "confidence" of spotting a good deal vs. a bad deal. So, here is what I am facing...

1997 Porsche Boxster base
31,800 miles
$8,995.00

Car has NEVER seen the rain... I had to pass this owner's basically personality test just to be able to go and physically see the car as he wants it going to an honest and true car loving buyer.

CONS:
Parking brake -- the parking brake is broke and does not engage. Doing my reading, I assume it is the brake cable that broke. He has only driven the car 2,000 in the last 3 years so he's kept it engaged in first gear when parked
CO sensor -- owner believes dirt or something got in and causes check engine to come on sometimes

PROS:
- super low miles
- car looks brand new ... seriously ... it is hard to even find a rock chip on the front of this car and the leather looks like it just came straight from the factory
- new tires -- only 1000 miles put on them
- no coolant tank leak in the trunk

Pros ... Cons ... either or....?:
- owner disengaged the electronic convertible so it is a manual. Why? no idea. He is a little weird (which is completely fine, everyone has their quirks!). But, he said he NEVER drives with it up (because he NEVER takes it out when it is wet... seriously, he wouldn't even let me take it out when the roads were basically dry.). He said he disengaged it because it was a little slow working. I don't know...
- installed an aftermarket exhaust. In fairness, it sounds awesome... however, it isn't that "pure" Porsche sound... I can live with it
- he has not done any major service work ... i.e., clutch or anything. Con to this? He looked clueless when I brought up the clutch replacement and what not... I didn't even bother engaging with the conversation of the IMS (verified it has not been looked at). Pro to this? I get to start from ground zero on my own maintenance schedule: address IMS, address clutch, etc. Additionally, I don't have to worry that he had some below average person try to tackle anything.

OVERALL: Immediately, first thing would be to address the parking brake. I've seen quotes all over the place... any experiences? Any DIY tacklers? I'm hoping it is just the cable replacement. After that, I would look at doing the clutch and IMS.

I think it is good but again, this will be my first Porsche purchase. I only intend to have this as a weekend car during summer.

Any thoughts? Too good to be true?

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Old 07-06-2018, 09:44 AM   #2
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Best advice is to have a Pre Purchase Inspection on the car by a Porsche dealer or a good Porsche indie shop. This will find any issues and such before you buy. Have super low miles is not necessarily good on the mechanicles.

Does he have all the pieces to convert the top back to electric?

Aftermarket exhaust, which one? Many have a bad drone between 2K to 3k to beaware of.

The check engine light might be of some concern, did he mention the code?

Good Luck!!
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Old 07-06-2018, 10:06 AM   #3
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Each market is different. That price sounds too high for the amount of repairs required to bring it back into good shape. You probably already know that parts are very pricey.

If you have the clutch X/O, top mechanism repaired and the parking brake repaired by a Porsche trained mechanic, you will end up spending +/-$2,500.00. Probably more. There tend to be other expenses involved with clutch work. While you are in there, i.e. RMS, IMS, etc.

Consider taking the repair money budget , add it to your purchase funds and buy a better maintained car. $12 grand would buy a really nice, well maintained car in So Cal.

Take your time. Drive as many cars as you can. Consider contacting your local PCA chapter. They can be a great source of used cars, shops and mechanics.
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Old 07-06-2018, 10:54 AM   #4
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I would not even touch this unless you had a pre-purchase inspection by a Porsche dealer or a good indie Porsche shop. It sounds like this guy isn't going to let you do that. For that reason alone, you should pass on it.

Keep in mind that those things you listed are the things that you know about. There are bound to be things that you don't know about, or haven't considered. For instance, the tires. Did you check the date codes on them? It's usually recommended to change the water pump every so often. Has that been done? AOS? Brake fluid? Are those the original 21 year old struts? Brake pads?
He's only owned the car for 2 years? Does he have the complete maintenance records from previous owners?

This is why you need a PPI. A CarFax would be a good idea too (to check for accidents, flood damage, etc).

As rexcramer said, for $12K you can get a nice clean, well cared for one. You'll be spending at least that much just to get the known problems fixed on this one.

Not trying to rain on your parade, but I want you to go in with your eyes wide open. As the old saying goes, "there's nothing more expensive than a cheap Porsche."
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:38 AM   #5
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I spoke to him about letting me take it to get a PPI right off the bat; he was a little hesitant because other people are inquiring and wanting to purchase without even mentioning it!!! What hurts me is the not so smart people... ugh...

Water pump has not been changed; tires are from early 2016; brakes were done with the tires; original struts.

Regarding the exhaust, no drone between 2 - 3k.

He has owned the car for 6 years actually. Carfax was clean with him being the 2nd owner.

I have kept myself aware of the parking brake repair, AOS and the water pump going into this potential deal. I figured I would do the clutch, IMS and the RMS this coming winter. I'm wondering if the AOS is potentially the culprit of the check engine light...

I don't know if it is the low mileage on the engine that is keeping me over-interested... but, looking past that being nice how it is only 32k miles, I'm factoring those maintenance costs.
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Old 07-06-2018, 12:24 PM   #6
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A Boxster that has been cared for by an enthusiast is usually a much better car to buy than one that has just been 'owned'. Given what you have said about the condition of the car and the attitude of the seller, I'd agree that he has some quirks, but not necessarily an enthusiast.

Low miles and clean is nice, but considering the faults, I would not buy this one for a premium price. If I was selling it, I'd fix the problems. If I was buying it, I'd offer significantly less than the asking price and expect to walk away without a deal. I would probably not deal with a seller who is difficult about a PPI.
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Old 07-06-2018, 12:38 PM   #7
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I just had a quick look at Craigslist... If you Need Zanzibar Red, forget everything else and just buy the car.





But seriously, dude should have vacuumed the floor mats at least before taking the pics.
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Old 07-06-2018, 12:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 78F350 View Post
A Boxster that has been cared for by an enthusiast is usually a much better car to buy than one that has just been 'owned'. Given what you have said about the condition of the car and the attitude of the seller, I'd agree that he has some quirks, but not necessarily an enthusiast.

Low miles and clean is nice, but considering the faults, I would not buy this one for a premium price. If I was selling it, I'd fix the problems. If I was buying it, I'd offer significantly less than the asking price and expect to walk away without a deal. I would probably not deal with a seller who is difficult about a PPI.
Usually easier & better to do light mechanical restoration than cosmetic restoration.

I would not buy any M96 without inspecting whats in the oil filter 1st !

To OP, 1997 Boxster will always be the least desirable M96 powered Porsche.
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Last edited by BYprodriver; 07-06-2018 at 12:59 PM. Reason: add info
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Old 07-06-2018, 01:13 PM   #9
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This discussion brings up a good point for thought...

Sometimes when trying to make a decision, I mentally move the needle to the extremes and by doing so, I can gauge where on the spectrum the prospective purchase resides. Given that, let's compare a "pristine/never driven" 986 (shrink wrapped, if you will) to a well driven (not over-driven) one with say 200,000 miles that is current on all service. Which one would you gravitate toward? For me, the chance to buy a "factory fresh" 986 (in appearance only) would be much more exciting than a well maintained (yet showing wear) alternative. I would also know that the first option would require a lot of mechanical service (far more than the second option) but in doing so, both cars would then be at the same "baseline" regarding all future maintenance costs. The way I see it, if both options were the same initial cost, I'd prefer to spend money on the mechanicals rather than trying to restore an entire car to pristine appearance, only to have a "showroom" car with 200,000 miles on the clock.

So that's my opinion (and in the end, only valuable to me), but if the OP uses the same train of thought, it would be up to them to decide where on my imaginary spectrum this car resides....and exactly how many fun-tickets they are willing to part with to bring the car up to spec. To each their own, just trying to help avert the "well I could have bought..."
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Old 07-06-2018, 01:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MWS View Post
This discussion brings up a good point for thought...

Sometimes when trying to make a decision, I mentally move the needle to the extremes and by doing so, I can gauge where on the spectrum the prospective purchase resides. Given that, let's compare a "pristine/never driven" 986 (shrink wrapped, if you will) to a well driven (not over-driven) one with say 200,000 miles that is current on all service. Which one would you gravitate toward? For me, the chance to buy a "factory fresh" 986 (in appearance only) would be much more exciting than a well maintained (yet showing wear) alternative. I would also know that the first option would require a lot of mechanical service (far more than the second option) but in doing so, both cars would then be at the same "baseline" regarding all future maintenance costs. The way I see it, if both options were the same initial cost, I'd prefer to spend money on the mechanicals rather than trying to restore an entire car to pristine appearance, only to have a "showroom" car with 200,000 miles on the clock.

So that's my opinion (and in the end, only valuable to me), but if the OP uses the same train of thought, it would be up to them to decide where on my imaginary spectrum this car resides....and exactly how many fun-tickets they are willing to part with to bring the car up to spec. To each their own, just trying to help avert the "well I could have bought..."
Lots of words to say you would buy it!!! Haha Anyway you make a valid point. I tend to agree, but I think a good PPI just to verify no hidden major issues still in order. Definitely easier to address those mech issues than paint and worn interior. I say go for it knowing what your getting into.
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Old 07-06-2018, 03:33 PM   #11
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If the top doesn't go up and down by itself, it's broken either mechanically or electrically. All fixable, but not real cheap to fix if you can't do it yourself. The hand brake: how do you break the cable in a low mileage non rusty car? All repairable, but the main cost will be the labor.

Can you do your own AOS, Clutch, and IMS bearing? Very spendy if you're paying for labor.

For me, the late 90's Boxsters are the least desirable. Starting in 2000 they had bigger engines, up to 3.2 liters and better interiors and accessories. And I'd want everything to work well. Don't buy a fixxer upper. Buy a car to enjoy.

I'd be pooling my pennies and buy nothing older than a 03 S model. Glass rear window is really worth it.
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Old 07-06-2018, 04:09 PM   #12
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So no major work. Any records of doing a major (30k in the maintenance manual) service?

Do not make an assumption on the check engine light. Know the P-code and get it interpreted. You are dealing with a 20 year old car with all its hoses which can deteriorate over time.

What is the date on the sidewalls of the tires? New looking quality and new year are different.

There were engine problems with the '97s specific to the model year. Just be aware of them.

Re someone's else's comments re significant changes after the '99s, I didn't see them and I owned a '99 and a '01S. Loved em both.

I wouldn't buy this car. Too many unknowns and I can see $3k right off the bat. There are thousands for sale right now. You can do better.

I'd want to know the sellers motivation for selling. See some records of regular maintenance so you don't have to do it all yourself.
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Old 07-06-2018, 04:17 PM   #13
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Eyes wide opened here! I really appreciate all the feedback from everyone and already feel a whole lot better about assessing potential deals from here on out.

Just curious, what would you all pay just from seeing everything as it is with this car? Iím going to go the route of shooting off my offer and most likely walking, so just seeing what everyone would throw out there as for a number?

As for servicing some of the items, I would undertake some of the projects, however, I have an indy that I would go to for other projects.
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Old 07-06-2018, 07:08 PM   #14
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Weird thing about the 97s: you can't go up in wheel size from stock. Apparently the structure won't handle it...
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Old 07-06-2018, 08:17 PM   #15
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...what would you all pay just from seeing everything as it is with this car? ...
It's a slow night at work. Mind if I ramble a bit?

I took a look at the listings in your local Craigslist market and all the prices look high to me.

Boxster prices can vary a lot by region and time of year. If a thorough PPI confirmed that all the issues are minor fixes that I could DIY I wouldn't go above $7,000 in my local area. Your situation, preferences, and needs are pretty different from mine.

Thoughts...
Fly to LAX, PHX, or DFW, pick up one with no needs and up to 80k miles on it for $6K to $12K. Drive it home to get familiar with it.


"NEVER takes it out when it is wet...." Probably adds about $1,500 to the value. I had a motorcycle like that once, then one day I got stuck out in a thunderstorm ...and that was over.

I saw an ad for a car once that said "never driven in snow" It had a picture of the car outside with about 8" of snow on it. Well, not "driven."

While I agree with what BYpro and MWS said about cosmetics and miles, each car presents a different situation. Do you value a bumper respray against an AOS and water pump? A 70k mile car that is about to need clutch, suspension, and tires vs a 100k mile car that just had everything done? Extremes are easy to evaluate, but most cars are more to the middle of the spectrum.

All my advice and speculation is a bit irrelevant. The most I have paid for (purchase of) a Boxster was $5,000 for my first one. I've bought 10 now counting 2 parts cars and I have never had a PPI done. Still I'll tell everyone to have a PPI done.
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Last edited by 78F350; 07-06-2018 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 07-06-2018, 09:17 PM   #16
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Yea, for some reason the market in my area seems to push higher prices.

Iíll see what he says if I throw a $6k at him (pending results of a PPI).
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Old 07-06-2018, 09:46 PM   #17
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If the seller is coming off as particular as to who they sell the car (because they want it to go to a good home) but is reluctant about handing it over for a PPI, I'd suggest to them that you both could go to the dealer, check out some Porsches and maybe grab a meal while waiting...who knows, a little bonding *might* work in your favor when it comes to price.

Again, I'm not advocating purchasing this particular car, but if it's really speaking to you, I think it's worth the second look (and PPI). In a worst case scenario (ok, scratch that...I can imagine much worse) you end up doing all the things you mentioned and spend $6000...you still get a heck of a lot of fun for $15000. BTW, we are all going to take a bath on resale (with maybe the exception of 78F350, lol) so end the end, it's only money, right?
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Old 07-06-2018, 09:48 PM   #18
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I don't know why anyone would disengage a perfectly working electric top. But hey...
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Old 07-06-2018, 10:54 PM   #19
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Generally, Porsche engines do much better if they have been driven (most engines do actually). The IMS is unlikely to be a problem on the early 2.7. That motor had other potential issues, but then pretty much all Porsche engines have a short coming or two to address. In terms of pricing, tough call. I believe the prices of these cars are going to start to see a rise as the air cooled cars continue to rise. The IMS thing is reasonably well known now and people are fixing them.

As mentioned a thorough PPI would be first, to include a hookup on the Porsche diagnostics tool. The top is a bit strange, but some people just pull the motor etc. just because they want to. The CEL must be addressed, and fixed for sure.

In the end, itís a really clean cosmetic car. Mechanicals are probably fine, but this is a 21 year old car now. It might require some cash to get full up to snuff. Where that break point would be is up to you. Personally, if the PPI checked out, I might haggle a bit and god for it.
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:10 PM   #20
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Why all the hate for the 97-99 Boxsters? I have a 97 and have gotten a lot of compliments on it. Even had one person tell me he wished he still had his 98. He currently owns an S but misses the sound of the 2.5L. Personally I wouldn't buy an 03-05 because of the high IMS failure rate (10%). And I run 18" wheels on my 97 as I know other who do too and no issues.

Personally I would have misgivings in buying this car tombo122. I paid $8700 for a low mileage (62,000), well maintained, IMSB replaced with an LNE bearing, excellent interior, 60K service done and it came with a hardtop. I shopped for a year till I found the car I felt I really wanted. Nearly 2 years later, no regrets.

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