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Old 04-15-2008, 11:23 AM   #1
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Should I buy 2003 S or 2005 (986 or 987)?

Hello all,

I am new to the forum and a first time poster. I will be buying a Boxster this week after a test drive in one stole my heart and killed my planned purchase of an Audi TT Roadster. I've read articles, studied countless Car Fax reports and cruised forums until my eyes were about to bleed... I need some "owner advice" !!!

My questions is on the pros/cons of choosing between a 2003 S with ~20K miles or a 2005 base model with ~$34K miles. I've read plenty of debates between base and S in the same model year but what about the debate between 986 S and 987 base series? My budget is $29K firm and I've been lucky enough to find both models/years within my price limit.

2003 S Points
- It's an S and kicks a.. in terms of performance
- It has low miles and a classic "loving" owner that pampers it and has all service records (second owner)
- Since it's an S it's loaded (18" rims, Bose, etc.)
- No warranty
- I kind of like the funkier 986 dash/interior

2005 Base Points
- More horse power in '05 but not 258
- PSM standard
- Next generation 987 platform
- Still under factory warranty through 6/2009
- Clean Car Fax with 1 owner
- Not quite as loaded (no Bose, 17" rims, does have heated seats)
- Don't like the interior as much as the 986 but I do like the exterior changes

I should also mention that I'm a tinkerer and will most likely be enhancing the sound system, adding navigation of some sort, tweaking bits and pieces to make it "mine". Not sure which platform is easier to work on.

So, 986 generation 2003 S or 987 generation base model... What do you think?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:30 AM   #2
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I am probably prejudiced since I own an '03 S. However, that would be my choice. I would not trade my '03 S for an '05 Base for the same money.
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:10 PM   #3
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If you are a tinkerer and like the 986 interior better, get the 986. Its not like you were asking us to make a "hard" choice you know.. they are both great cars!

What did you think after driving them both?
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:25 PM   #4
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Kind of luxury choice. First try them both good.

It depends of what u want. Easy riding on sunny days or speeding nicely, which is probably a little bit easier here in Europe then in the States.

I had a 2.7 and later the S, and i was choicing for the power,

But any choice is Ok, good luck
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racer_d
If you are a tinkerer and like the 986 interior better, get the 986. Its not like you were asking us to make a "hard" choice you know.. they are both great cars!

What did you think after driving them both?
They both were great in the turns and very fast. With the '05 going up to 240 HP there is only an 18HP difference and both are plenty quick for me. I'm thinking mnore about long-term value and reliability. The '03 got some knocks from Consumer Reports but I don't trust a ton of what they write about cars.
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Old 04-15-2008, 01:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rahlstrom
They both were great in the turns and very fast. With the '05 going up to 240 HP there is only an 18HP difference and both are plenty quick for me. I'm thinking mnore about long-term value and reliability. The '03 got some knocks from Consumer Reports but I don't trust a ton of what they write about cars.
Value? Yikes. These are Boxsters. Not much drops in depreciation faster than a Boxster. My guess is that in 3 years, these cars will be worth 1/2 of what you pay for them now. Sad, but likely.

Reliability? again, you only "hear" from those with problems and hardly ever do people post/brag about how trouble free their cars are. I am quite confident that either model will have some "issue" if you own the car long enough.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:09 PM   #7
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I haven't driven either model, or obviously neither specific car, but there's an old adage about buying a Porsche.. buy the newest model you can afford. The warranty on the 05 is worth a LOT in my opinion. To get the same coverage in the 03 you'd have to spend an additional ohhhhhhh 3K or so for an aftermarket warranty. (I assume an aftermarket warranty is available after the original factory warranty runs out??? I bought mine before the warranty expired, so I really don't know)

I personally don't like the newer interior at all. I prefer the curves and overall appearance of the 986 interior, but there are "millions" of fans of the 987 interior, so take my opinion for what its worth! If the two are in comparable shape and have had equally adequate attention paid to maintenance, (and that fact can be proven) I'd have to go with the '05, just because its newer, has the warranty and two years' worth of improvements from the factory. Just MHO. (On the other hand.. you probably can't go wrong with either choice!!!) Good luck and have fun.

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Old 04-16-2008, 05:56 AM   #8
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Exterior wise, the 987 is ugly compared to the 986. The huge wheel well gaps adds immensly to the ugliness. Interior wise, the 987 is much nicer. The bigger motor of the 03 S is a major plus, can't beat the dispacement with add ons. I'd get the 03 S. Good luck
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Old 04-16-2008, 08:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOXZING
Exterior wise, the 987 is ugly compared to the 986. The huge wheel well gaps adds immensly to the ugliness
my ugly 987 below

*rubs eyes...clears glasses.....still wondering hos its ugly compared to a 986 *

rahl, if you're worried about warranty, note the 3K you don't spend in the exteded warranty for the 03 can be applied to wheels.....I think less than 1500 got me the wheels and tires...

I say go newer if you can......but drive them both...my 987 is a daily and I can't stand driving ANY other car...its that good....and go with he painted cayman vents....either way, best of luck
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Old 04-18-2008, 01:56 AM   #10
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I honestly don't think anyone can really help you with this decision. Beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Anyway, I also agree in that the warranty has a lot of value. Essentially, you have no worries with the warranty. Just enjoy the car and if anything happens, you won't have to pay alot of money to repair your car. It's easy to install an aftermarket radio and speakers, so that is not much of a problem. I have a base 2000 and love it. The S is quicker, no question, but for 95% of the time I drive, it does not really matter. I would choose the newer model with the warranty.

Good Luck!
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Old 04-18-2008, 05:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOXZING
Exterior wise, the 987 is ugly compared to the 986. The huge wheel well gaps adds immensly to the ugliness. Interior wise, the 987 is much nicer. The bigger motor of the 03 S is a major plus, can't beat the dispacement with add ons. I'd get the 03 S. Good luck

I agree. I like the look and side air scoops much better on the 986. I would definitely go with the 2003 S for the looks, the power and the better handling.
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:36 PM   #12
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I went through the same analysis

I don't have the link to 'my' thread handy, but I posted the same question long ago, got a ton of thoughtful responses, and ultimately purchased a low miles 2003 S.

I saw the exact same Consumer Reports, however, if you'll look at the 2007 cars edition, you'll see they said don't buy a 2004, and 2003 was great, and they don't explain the total reversal, so I lost faith in that measure.

I found a comprehensive aftermarket warranty for 5 years for under $2k (not a ton of mileage allowance, but that's fine for me).

I prefer the looks of the 986, and felt I got more for my money.

It is ultimately a personal choice, but I have no regrets having gone for the "S".

Good luck in your search, and please keep us informed.
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Old 04-21-2008, 12:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloan
...I found a comprehensive aftermarket warranty for 5 years for under $2k (not a ton of mileage allowance, but that's fine for me)...
So another option I just found is a 2004 S that is Porsche Certified and under warranty for the next 2 years/50K with new brakes/rotors/tires but the car has 56K miles on it versus the 2003 S with 20K miles. Besides lower miles the 2003 S also has 18 inch rims with the 265/35ZR18s on the rear and PSM. Both are about $29K. So, more features/lower miles/no warranty or higher miles/warranty?

I am going mad trying to decide but really do appreciate all the thoughts and opinions of those that have posted!
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:01 PM   #14
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now THAT's a tough call

You saw that I was pretty quick to vote for the older "S" over the base 2005, but the new choice you pose is not as easy.

The only option that I really, really wanted that I did not get was PSM. I did get the 18" rims (flawless) and the BOSE system. I consider the PSM to be very desirable, but that's all from what I've read - in the time I've had my car and tried some mildly spirited driving, (including some typical South Florida heavy downpours)I have yet to experience any event that would have passed the PSM threshold, and I've even tried to test the limits - but the car just insists on sticking! So, so far I'm not so sorry for having 'compromised' and purchased w/o PSM, but from what I hear, all it takes is that ONE time, and you wish you had it.

I think you will hear from others on this board (or may have already read) that mileage is not such a big deal. They have more experience with these cars than I do for sure, but I could never fully grasp or buy in to the 'mileage is not important' argument, and that's why I purchased a low-mileage car. While I plan to keep the car for a long time, and resale value was not a consideration in my purchase, those 'outside' the Porsche world typically still think lower mileage is better.

The Porsche CPO is big - as I understand it, that's not just an aftermarket warranty that buys you the right to fight with them over claim denials - that's actual security - and quite valuable. That may be hard to pass up, and you may hear that it makes up for the mileage difference (I would not dare to say).

So, like I said, your second question is harder than the first. Let me ask you this - which one looks better to you - inside and out? Both will be excellent cars, so sometimes you need to be less analytical and more instinct driven ....

Final factors - you can upgrade rims, but can't add PSM to the '04. You can buy a warranty for the '03, but it will not be Porsche CPO.

Any other differences you can tell us about to help you choose? Links to ads / photos?
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:15 PM   #15
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Both are great cars. 03 S is my personal favorite Boxster so that is what I would choose. All of the good stuff, none of the bad.
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Old 04-21-2008, 03:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloan
Any other differences you can tell us about to help you choose? Links to ads / photos?
First, thanks for the very thoughtful reply. Here are the finer details:

The '03 is owned by a 2nd owner Porsche fanatic with all service records and a regular schedule of detailing and oil changes. It is black on black which is my favorite color combination. It is also in great shape with very minor exterior flaws.

The '04 is a two owner car but it doesn't come with service records. The interior is gray and the exterior is a very dark gray, almost with a bluish hue. I like the color of this one but I love the black on black.

So '04 with no records but backed up by Porsche, '03 with records but I'm on my own. Esthetically I would go hands down with the '03 and if that was the car with 56K miles and under Porsche warranty it would probably already be in my garage!
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Old 04-21-2008, 05:17 PM   #17
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LOL.. you're going to confuse yourself to the point of going mad! Have you made a decision about WHAT you want.. in other words, among other things, which is more important to you: the mileage or the warranty?

When I searched for mine I went through much the same hair pulling as you. It helped a lot when I prioritized what I was looking for. Set a top price you're willing to pay, set a maximum amount of mileage you'll accept, what color do you want???, what options MUST it have and which are, well, optional. THEN go looking for the newest one you can find with your stated criteria. I don't know if it will work for you but it certainly did for me.

Bob

ps.. do you really want 18's? I know a lot (most?) people think they look better, and I do too, but....have you compared the ride with 18 vs 17's? Have you priced new tires 18 vs 17's? If you live in an area with a lot of potholes you should consider the greater possibility of wheel damage since you've got less sidewall height to protect the wheel when you hit one. Just something else to consider. Just mho.

Bob
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Old 04-21-2008, 10:24 PM   #18
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rahl.....reads like color is a big factor for you....I wouldn't forget that...options, warranties...all things you can fix....

but driving a grayish blue boxster wont replace the black one you want....I would never sacrifice color....I could have got a couple different boxsters but stuck to my white on black...passed up a couple white on blue and white on tans with tips....stuck to my colors and learned to drive stick.....

at the end of the day you have to look at it and love it....if the guy is a porsche freak, then I wouldn't worry as much get the one you want and dont look back, you will go crazy
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:35 AM   #19
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down to the warranty issue

Based on the additional information you supplied, it seems like the CPO status of the '04 is the only real benefit of that car. The '03 has the preferred appearance, options, lower miles, etc.. I can also sense that you are more interested in / excited about the '03.

I'd suggest you get quotes for the best possible aftermarket warranty for the '03, compare the coverage to CPO coverage, and see if that helps with the decision. Also consider that the lower mileage '03 with all service records may be less likely to actually need serious work than the car with more miles and less known pedigree. I always keep in mind that even if service does not cost you $ out-of-pocket, it still takes your time and is usually a big hassle too.

As for the comments about the 18" wheels - I can tell you the car still rides very comfortably with the 18"'s, but the roads here are not too bad (worse than you might think though). So, unless you have real problems with the roads in your area or where you need to drive, I would not be too worried about that. I'm acutally surprised at how comfortable the ride is even with such low-profile tires.
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Old 04-23-2008, 01:08 PM   #20
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Question

This is my first post here. Is the 05 out of the question then?
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