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Old 05-01-2004, 05:32 PM   #1
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New (potential) Boxster owner--confused

I'm looking at pre-owned Boxsters in the $20-$25K range. I've had a few interesting experiences:

First, I drove a 3.2L Boxster S in Speed Yellow at a Porsche dealership (Porsche-certified pre-owned). I was expecting to be blown away, since it was more than I could pay and was a post-2000 S model. But I was lukewarm--yes, it was fast, but it was stiff, not supple, the clutch pedal was sticky, making it hard to drive smoothly, and the shifter felt ropy and vague. I drove home in my GTI 1.8T thinking it was just as much fun.

Today I drove a 1998 with 55,000 miles. It is not Porsche-certified. It was Ocean Jade with a grey interior. It has a few small chips in the paint, and the front air dam has been scraped underneath fairly aggressively, even though it's not visible from the front. Only one small ding, on a rear quarter panel. Leather wear on the shifter and handbrake. But the dealer was only asking $21K, so I thought I'd take it for a drive.

WOW! Magic! The sound! The supply clutch! The razor-sharp steering! The shifter! The rock-solid brake pedal! Incredible. I liked it better on every dimension when compared to the "S" I drove.

So, now I'm wondering if there's a difference in how these cars drive depending on how they've been cared for, or if it's just that the earlier 2.5 cars do it for me. I loved the harmony between the mechanical and exhaust sounds.

Is $21K a good price for a car with these kind of cosmetic shortcomings? How much would I expect to pay to repaint the front bumper and replace the black plastic pieces in front of the wheels?

Do all the 2.5's drive like this, or do I need to drive every one to see if it has the magic for me? I've seen some cars on eBay that I really like, but based on my experience with these two cars, I'm really reluctant to consider buying without driving it and making sure it has the magic--even if I have a mechanic check it over for condition.

Is Porsche-certified worth the few thousand dollars it seems to command in premium?

Thanks for all your help. Hope to join you folks soon.

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Old 05-02-2004, 06:43 AM   #2
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21K for the '98 sounds fairly much where it should be. Though I 'd try to talk the dealer down as much as possible of course. I'd also get a CarFax report on the VIN. At least that provides you with some information on the car's history. Does the dealer have full records on it? Have to be careful with used ones, who knows where it came from and what it has been through. Be as thorough as you can be.

As for the difference in the two you drove, I don't know why that would be. You'd think the S would come out on top in that regard. Both manual transmissions? Or, was one manual ('98) and the other a tiptronic perhaps?

That said, I'd be really careful with any '98 or '99 due to problems with engine failures due to s slipped sleeve. There is a certain production window where Porsche had some porous engine castings where they then inserted sleeves into the bad ones. If you are unfortunate enough to get one of those (fairly rare of course to have this happen, but it can) and it blows up on you one day, it will be very expensive and require a replacement engine. If you can go a bit more $$, try to go for a 2000 at least. I wouldn't be too concerned about the small ding, a paintless dent removal service can probably do a good job on that. I also would not be concerned about the small chips and scrapes underneath. Unless of course you are one of those really anal Boxster owners. That kind of thing, paint chips on the nose, while not ideal of course, is something I have learned to live with. It's a friggin' car after all and cars get stuff like that in the course of time. Scrapes on the underside of the front -- big deal, not visible anyway unless you spend your time on your knees looking at them. Right?

I have a '99 with 72K on it, no problems fortunately.

Good luck and I hope we see you here with a Boxster soon! You will love it!

Last edited by mjbliemel; 05-02-2004 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 05-02-2004, 07:00 AM   #3
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Every Boxster should have "razor-sharp steering!", if it doesn't it is probably small, cheap tires. Every Boxster should have "the magic" for you.

Compared to a 63 VW beetle, the Boxster is a tight crisp shifter. Compared to an S2000, or an Audi TT, the the shifter may feel "ropy and vague", this is easily changed with a B&M short-shift kit. I actually prefer the feel of the stock shifter. With a short shifter, I have a tendency to "snick & click" into the next gear. When driving aggressively there is a tendency for me to then 'smash' it into the next gear. With the stock shifter, each gear change is a balletic 'nudge and guide' into the next gear that works well at all speeds. This is a personal issue. I prefer the stock Boxster settings, but a short shifter is a simple 'cure' for those who want it.

(the S) "was fast, but it was stiff, not supple" Stiff is a measure of tires and suspension. The 18" tires, with the lower sidewalls, are generally a lot stiffer than the 17" tires. The factory M030, or aftermarket H&R, PSS9, etc suspension changes are all stiffer. This is again a matter of preference - I purchased 18" wheels and the M030 suspension.

re "Is Porsche-certified worth the few thousand dollars it seems to command in premium?" "the clutch pedal was sticky, making it hard to drive smoothly".

hmmmm. The Porsche-certified car had a sticky clutch. Is it worth more? Of course not! Factory certified is a way for dealers to chargfe more for a used car. All it really says is that the car has all factory parts, has low enough mileage and is new enough that the dealer will throw in a warrantee and charge you a lot for the privelege. In my experience the 6-speed S is easier to shift than the 5-speed 2.5/2.7L.


The 1st Boxster I drove was a 2.7L tiptronic with about 300 miles on it. It drove very smoothly with crisp steering, but was exceptionally ho-hum. Over the next year I drove, 308, Viper, M3, Saleen Mustang, Vette, S2000, Miata, etc. Then I drove an 02S with 18" wheels and M030 and made my choice to order me one of those.

I suspect you have fallen in love with "Ocean Jade with a grey interior". No Boxster is a bad choice, but any handling shifting differrence is the result of wheels/tires/shifter that can be adjusted to your preferences.

I would consider a '98 2.5L, but if I bought one I would expect to spend $18-25,000 in a few years to replace the engine with a 3.4L, upgrade the brakes, purchase custom wheels, premium suspension and a full rollcage for track Driver's Education. Your needs may vary!

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Old 05-02-2004, 10:03 AM   #4
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It seems that most everyone would like to go for the 996 power but want a boxster, seems like they should start where they will or want to end up....

C2 Cab... suffer's a little with the handling [compared to the Boxster], but it would be cheaper to make a 996 handle closer to a Boxster then make a Boxster have the power of a 996.

My two cents - I am thinking of switching - 3.4 in a 996 is probably more dependable then the same conversion in a Boxster.

To much stuff to make it just right and dependable...

But it's only money and we are all rich right ..............
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Old 05-02-2004, 01:49 PM   #5
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re: "C2 Cab... it would be cheaper to make a 996 handle closer to a Boxster then make a Boxster have the power of a 996."

How would you do that? The engine is in the wrong place and the car is too heavy to ever handle like a 996.

Plus the C2 cab has no rear trunk and a smaller front trunk.

Looking at the 996 and Boxster engines side by side on an engine stand it takes someone knowledgable to tell them apart.
Looking at a Boxster and a C2 cab on a car lot, anyone over 2 feet tall can easily see they are different cars.
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Old 05-02-2004, 02:40 PM   #6
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Ref: “How would you do that? The engine is in the wrong place and the car is too heavy to ever handle like a 996. “

You have me thoroughly confused, are you referring to a 986 [Boxster], and the adaptation of handling upgrades to the 996.

If so, if you were to put 5-7K into a 996 handling characteristics, you could get close enough to match a Boxster’s handling, sure the Boxster is a mid engine design, do you really think the 996 does not handle that well.

Think about it, how many championships have a 911 won, how many Boxster championships and please do not compare these little autocrosses and such.

I mean real racing the Rolex series, Le Mans etc…

There is no comparison; it is all about driver skills, not the car, the car is a tool to put your skills to the ground, if you do not have the skills. The car will not give them to you; it will only make you look good, when you are not so good.

It would be nice to live in a world were the Boxster is the best, I wish…

I would be driving the best car, do not get me wrong, I love the car, but after 30 years of working on cars, I no longer want to figure out what I did wrong the last time I played with the cars configuration.

I have learned if you do not stay as close to stock, you will hamper the reliability of a very good car.

I like driving and not writing for help because of some engine upgrade I tried to accomplish. Stock is best; modifications have reciprocal effect on dependability.

Maybe you like to fix your car, I do not, and I have done enough wrenching to know it is no longer fun, but work….

Not to infuriate you more, but if a layman cannot tell the 996 engine from a Boxster engine [Wow]. Just look for the yellow oil filler [it seems pretty obvious], besides about 100 other things to notice.

Sorry for making you mad with my comparison, but it is my opinion…

Looks can be deceiving… come on trunks, are we driving or going golfing…Please.....
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Old 05-02-2004, 08:29 PM   #7
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I think alot of fun can be had out of putting this on or doing that mod. It makes the car more unique and interesting. If I went to porschefest and all the boxsters where the same, I would look at the first one or two and then walk away and look for a 911 turbo to drool over. Variety is the spice of life. Another reason modifying is fun is the element of suprise. Lets say some yahoo in a z28 wants to run with you. He thinks boxsters are slow and maybe even a tad...gasp.....girly. A boxster with the right engine mods could hang with him and a S with the same could very well hand him his ass. The suprised/pissed off look on his face would be pretty entertaining. I like suprising people. If I was in a 996 and ran a train on him that wouldn't be suprising to him nor me. I think a custom boxster could very well be better than a cookie-cutter 996. I guess to each his own. BTW, Mickey, thankyou for the emails, pics and advice. I'm gonna give it another crack real soon. I'm just afraid of breaking the damn thing. I guess the new hasn't quite worn off of it yet.

Last edited by Adam; 05-02-2004 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 05-03-2004, 10:20 AM   #8
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I don't know that I would do any major modifications to a vehicle. It can make it difficult to service and sell. I have a friend who has spent $80,000 on making his car, a Honda Prelude (don't ask why he chose this as a platform) into a real monster of a car. The trouble is he has to fly someone into service the car and is constantly having problems with tuning. He's going to sell the car and expects to see about $20,000 for it. Not that cars are investments by any stretch of the imagine (rule of thumb), but still that kind of burns. $80,000 plus the cost of the car and you're only going to get $20,000 of it back. Then to top it off you really couldn't even enjoy it because of all the problems he had with keeping it running. That car has spent most of its life so far in a shop.

Granted he does live in a small city w/o a reputable tuner. Just something to think about.

However, I do agree a trick car is much nicer than a cookie cutter for the most part, however Turbo 996s, GT3s and GT2s really aren't that cookie cutter.
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Old 05-03-2004, 03:00 PM   #9
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mr MickeyMouse

re"If so, if you were to put 5-7K into a 996 handling characteristics, you could get close enough to match a Boxster’s handling, sure the Boxster is a mid engine design, do you really think the 996 does not handle that well."

So if I understand your argument correctly, adding 5-7K to a 996 should yield similar performance to adding 15-18K in a Boxster. It sounds like the dollar amounts are about right, so the differences should show up in areas like HP/lb ratios, moment of enertia, etc. By the numbers, the Boxster should have the edge.

996 handling? I haven't aggresively driven a 996. I do feel that the 930 and 964 don't handle that well. Road & Track and car and driver regularly do road tests. Since the days I rode in a Lotus Europa, it has always been about slalom numbers for me - the 996 doesn't seem to have the slalom numbers of the Boxster S w/M030.

>>Think about it, how many championships have a 911 won, how many Boxster championships <<
A reasonable comparison must be 996 to 986, rather than including all of the 911 history. As far as I know that means comparing the Boxster to the GT2/GT3 since that seems to be what has been winning since the 986 was introduced. If you start comparing Boxster with the 993/996 engine to the GT2/GT3 - well yes I can see how the Boxster might not be as good a car. How does this equate to the 996 engine in a Boxster question?

re:>trunks, are we driving or going golfing…<
We are doing all of the above. Saturday I brought home a 9x12 carpet on my roof rack. Saturday the week before I drove at Lime Rock. In between I commuted to work. In the winter I drive in Snow(top down if possible). In the summer I drive in the heat(top down if possible).

If the only goal were to go racing, both the 996 and the 986 fall prey to the lighter body of a 914 with a 600 HP engine and $15,000 dollars in suspension and body mods. But again, this is outside the comparison of a moderately expensive 99x engine swap using genuine Porsche Parts in a 986 vs an unspecified suspension upgrade from somebody or other that makes a 996 handle like a 986.

I'm not the least bit infuriated, but I am confused by the basis of your argument. When I asked "how would you do that?" (and mistakenly inserted 996 in place of 986) your response divided between 'driving records' and 'mods break and are frustrating'. Was there an answer in there about handling that I missed?

As for your statement "folks should start where they want to end up" - I did! I went looking around for a great cornering convertible that was both affordable and reliable- I got that. When my engine is finished, I plan to upgrade to a reliable Porsche engine with more power - and have that too! If my engine never gives up, it will remain a 'someday' thing for me. In the meantime, I am very happy with this car. I sincerely hope things work out as well for you.

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