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Old 06-21-2018, 10:16 AM   #1
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Post (Potential) First-Time Porsche Buyer Looking for Advice

Hey y'all, I'm 20 years old, junior in college, about to buy my first car. I want to get something fun and affordable and terribly impractical, so I'm torn between a new-ish Miata (around 2012) and a 986 Boxster. I'm hoping there will be some people here who have experience with both cars and can make a recommendation, but general feedback on the Boxster experience would be great as well!
A few points I'm concerned about/researching:
- Reliability. If I go for the Boxster over the Miata, I'm expecting to incur drastically higher maintenance costs both because it's twice as old and because it's a Porsche. Although I can afford increased regular maintenance costs, I can't afford to fix a catastrophic failure. So IMS problems aside, what other expensive problems might I find on a high-mileage Boxster?
- Optimal mileage. In general, I'd opt for the car with the lowest mileage possible. But with the 986 Boxsters, it sounds like I may actually be better off with a higher mileage example since it sounds like cars which have been consistently driven tend to last longer, especially with regards to the IMS.
- Convertible top. I love the simplicity of the Miata's top. No electric motors or hydraulics which can fail, fairly cheap to replace, etc. How reliable is the convertible top on the Boxster, and what's the cost of replacing it if it fails? Is it a fix I can do on my own? (I'm competent with wrenches and mechanical stuff, but not experienced with car maintenance)
- Practicality. Although both cars seem horribly impractical, how is the Boxster's storage space? Has anyone managed to find a way to store surfboards plus two passengers in either vehicle? (lol)
- Performance. Ultimately, which is more enjoyable? It looks like the Boxster will be considerably quicker in a straight line and probably similar in corners, so I'm assuming Porsche wins that one.
- Safety. I'd assume the Mazda, being newer, will be safer, but since the Boxster is from a much higher-end market, maybe they're similar?
- Interior. I'm not a huge fan of the Boxster interior. That's the only part of the car that really feels dated to me. But when you're driving it, do you even notice?

I think that's about all. I'm not expecting to be handed answers to everything -- just wanted to put it all out there so anyone who wants to help is able to I'm still planning to research all these points myself.
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:40 AM   #2
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first.... wait.... you're 20 yrs old and this is you first car?

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Old 06-21-2018, 10:45 AM   #3
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So your thinking that a 13-18 year old German sports car might be in the mix for your first car while your in college.

While I love my Boxster, the Miata may give you more carefree driving
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:59 AM   #4
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Miata.

Every. Single. Time.


Miata.
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Old 06-21-2018, 11:09 AM   #5
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Well the miata is prbably the wise choice, where as you mentioned totally impractical that would be the Porsche. I am finding maint cost about on par with my other cars, but i have acreally good indie mechanic. If you can wrench then even less, you more apt to work on an older boxster than a newer miata i would think.

If you are considering a 986 then as mentioned in another thread think classic car maintenance.

Good luck! Get a Pre purchase inspection on whatever you choose.
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Old 06-21-2018, 11:43 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice guys. Sounds like Miata is the overwhelming top choice. It was actually my first choice as well...but then my mom got an SL400. After driving that a lot this summer, my Mazda 3 feels really sluggish -- which is worrisome since, on paper at least, it does 0-60 in roughly the same time as a 2012 Miata.

Does the Miata really feel much quicker than it is? I don't care about the actual numbers or winning drag races; I'm just looking for that visceral thrill of acceleration I definitely don't want to buy a car solely for its fun factor and then end up bored by it.

Responding to a couple other replies though:
This is the first car I'll buy outright for myself. I split the cost of my true first car with my parents and sister, so I don't really think of it as mine.

College and rent is fully paid for and I have around $10k saved and will make another $10-15k this summer plus a couple grand a month during the school year, so I think I'm in a place financially where I can safely afford either car. I just want to make sure I make the right choice, since this is far more money than I've ever spent on anything.
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Old 06-21-2018, 12:42 PM   #7
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I've owned both, so I have a bit of perspective that I hope can help you. My Miata was a first generation Miata. Honestly, I don't recall what exact year it was.

For the Miata, here's the good points:
Shifter - best I have ever used, hands down. Period.

Rock solid reliable. Mine had power windows, brakes, etc. NOTHING ever broke on that can. Ever.

It was a blast to drive.

Bad points of the Miata are:
Lack of power. I have a 2002 Boxster S, so while I can't speak of the base Boxster, the Miata was lots slower than my current Boxster S. It wasn't a slug by any means, but it wasn't quick either. I still found it very fun to drive.

Dated styling. On the first gen of the Miata, if that's what you are looking at, the interior styling is very dated and spartan. I'll take the Boxster 986 interior over the 1st gen Miata any time.

For the Boxster S,
Good points are -
Better power
Better styling, which is subjective
Better all around performance
Not really that expensive to maintain if you do the work yourself

Bad points -
Where do I start, how about IMS bearings that can grenade an engine with no notice at all.

Cracked heads that are far too common that lead to intermix and a VERY expensive repair

AOS that need fail far too often, and in some cases can also grenade your engine

Water pump replacement at regular intervals. They just don't last.

Radiator tanks that will eventually need replacing. expensive if you have it done. Pain in the a$$ if you do it yourself
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Old 06-21-2018, 01:17 PM   #8
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Find a....

Buy this BRG one:

https://www.flyinmiata.com/miata-performance-parts/cars-for-sale.html

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Old 06-21-2018, 05:03 PM   #9
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Ooh man, that's tempting. I'm a bit scared of buying someone else's FI build though. I'm not confident enough in my own knowledge, and I don't know any other way to tell if the build is well done or if it'll blow up on me (or something else).

I like the idea of having a car I can tinker with (which would rule out the Boxster) but it's gonna be several years at least before I'm in a living situation where that's at all possible (i.e. having my own garage).
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:15 PM   #10
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I've owned and maintained both, a Miata is a much better choice in your current situation.
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug427 View Post
I've owned both, so I have a bit of perspective that I hope can help you. My Miata was a first generation Miata. Honestly, I don't recall what exact year it was.

For the Miata, here's the good points:
Shifter - best I have ever used, hands down. Period.

Rock solid reliable. Mine had power windows, brakes, etc. NOTHING ever broke on that can. Ever.

It was a blast to drive.

Bad points of the Miata are:
Lack of power. I have a 2002 Boxster S, so while I can't speak of the base Boxster, the Miata was lots slower than my current Boxster S. It wasn't a slug by any means, but it wasn't quick either. I still found it very fun to drive.

Dated styling. On the first gen of the Miata, if that's what you are looking at, the interior styling is very dated and spartan. I'll take the Boxster 986 interior over the 1st gen Miata any time.

For the Boxster S,
Good points are -
Better power
Better styling, which is subjective
Better all around performance
Not really that expensive to maintain if you do the work yourself

Bad points -
Where do I start, how about IMS bearings that can grenade an engine with no notice at all.

Cracked heads that are far too common that lead to intermix and a VERY expensive repair

AOS that need fail far too often, and in some cases can also grenade your engine

Water pump replacement at regular intervals. They just don't last.

Radiator tanks that will eventually need replacing. expensive if you have it done. Pain in the a$$ if you do it yourself
Thanks for the thorough response -- this is exactly what I was hoping to find. It sounds like the Miata can only really sell itself on a test drive, which I admittedly have yet to do (both early-2000s Boxsters and early-2010s Miatas are oddly scarce in my area).

Not to try and put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you're saying the main drawback with the Porsche is maintenance and reliability.

Is it safe to assume that the IMS bearing is good on a car that's past 80k miles on the original IMS? My understanding is that the bad bearings typically blow out pretty early.

For the cracked heads, water pump replacement, AOS replacement, etc. are there typically warning signs prior to catastrophic failure? And how expensive are we talking? I can afford a grand or two in repairs and could do simple stuff myself, although anything that requires lifting the car up and/or taking out chunks of the drivetrain is a bit iffy.
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:16 PM   #12
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Here's my experience....

...I bought a brand new Miata in 1993.

I put 357,859 miles on her.

My 1993 Miata was my ONLY car for 15 years.

I added a Flyin' Miata FMIII turbo'd 1990 to the 1993 NA Miata.

I put 276,894 miles on THAT aftermarket turbo 1990 Miata.

She was running 12 pounds of boost with a stand alone, "Link" Fuel Injection computer.

I drove that aftermarket turbo Miata from Louisiana to Maine, up Mt.Washington in New Hampshire, down to Key West, out to the Grand Canyon, across every mountain pass in Colorado about fifty times, and she NEVER let me down.

Buy that turbo Miata in the link above and you will own a dead, solid reliable, fun as hell car.

Now, I'm getting old. My wife is.....well she could use more cushion, so I just sold both Miatas in 2015 and bought this 2004 Boxster S "50 Years of 550 Spyder Edition" machine.

I bought the car with 25,000 miles on her, I immediately shipped her to Flat 6 Innovations and had their "IMS Solution" and every other failure prone part replaced.

We have driven this Boxster to the Grand Canyon, Tail of the Dragon, Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, All over Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, without a hiccup.

I can speak from first hand, real world, life experience--the Miata is THE most fun you can have driving a car on the street.

The Boxster is just that little bit more comfy/cushy for long distance, "GT" style travel.

If you want more speed than a stock Miata, one of the Flyin' Miata turbo cars, or a Mazdaspeed Miata, or one of the Flyin' Miata LS engined Miatas would be extremely hard to beat if you just want to have all kinds of crazy driving fun, and not break the bank, or be stuck on the side of the road.

Good Luck.

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Old 06-21-2018, 06:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmootzler View Post
Thanks for the thorough response -- this is exactly what I was hoping to find. It sounds like the Miata can only really sell itself on a test drive, which I admittedly have yet to do (both early-2000s Boxsters and early-2010s Miatas are oddly scarce in my area).

Not to try and put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you're saying the main drawback with the Porsche is maintenance and reliability.

Is it safe to assume that the IMS bearing is good on a car that's past 80k miles on the original IMS? My understanding is that the bad bearings typically blow out pretty early.

For the cracked heads, water pump replacement, AOS replacement, etc. are there typically warning signs prior to catastrophic failure? And how expensive are we talking? I can afford a grand or two in repairs and could do simple stuff myself, although anything that requires lifting the car up and/or taking out chunks of the drivetrain is a bit iffy.
It's not just maintenance. The truth is, and some just don't want to hear it, is that Porsche dropped the ball when they engineered the engine in this car, and then washed their hands of responsibility for the issues when they started popping up with disturbing regularity.

As for the IMS bearing, if it lasts for 80K miles as you mentioned, it'll likely be OK, but there are no guarantees whatsoever. You just never know. When your engine goes "bang", you'll know it went. As for the cracked heads, which is my current situation, there;s no warning at all, and it's far too common to be acceptable. AOS will usually give some warning in the form of a huge mosquito control style cloud behind you. Water pump will usually start leaking.

I'd buy another Miata without hesitation. I absolutely LOVE driving my Boxster S. That said, I will never buy another Porsche product. Lesson learned. It's my first, and it'll be my last. I know that'll piss off some of the loyalists on here, but it is what it is.
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Old 06-21-2018, 07:06 PM   #14
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It's not just maintenance. The truth is, and some just don't want to hear it, is that Porsche dropped the ball when they engineered the engine in this car, and then washed their hands of responsibility for the issues when they started popping up with disturbing regularity.

As for the IMS bearing, if it lasts for 80K miles as you mentioned, it'll likely be OK, but there are no guarantees whatsoever. You just never know. When your engine goes "bang", you'll know it went. As for the cracked heads, which is my current situation, there;s no warning at all, and it's far too common to be acceptable. AOS will usually give some warning in the form of a huge mosquito control style cloud behind you. Water pump will usually start leaking.

I'd buy another Miata without hesitation. I absolutely LOVE driving my Boxster S. That said, I will never buy another Porsche product. Lesson learned. It's my first, and it'll be my last. I know that'll piss off some of the loyalists on here, but it is what it is.
Fair enough. I suppose when the Porsche forum unanimously tells you not to buy a Porsche, you should listen.

So then, any thoughts on recent-ish stock Miata vs Turbo or SC NA/NB Miata vs early S2000?
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Old 06-21-2018, 07:20 PM   #15
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Well.......

....I've spent some wheel time with an S2000, also.

I LOVE the S2000.

If it came down to Miata, turbo, SC, or otherwise, versus an S2000......Buy the S2000!

Those cars are awesome.

Now, having said ALL OF THAT in all of my above posts, my 2004 Boxster S is hands down THE best sports car I have ever owned.

These Boxsters are absolutely FANTASTIC vehicles. No other car drives like my Boxster, handles as sweetly, or has better harmony of controls.

The Miata is more FUN, but the Boxster is a better experience. I know that sounds at odds, but that's the only way I can describe it.

If you end up buying a Boxster, you will absolutely LOVE that car.

Just make sure you do your due diligence and buy one that has had all of the known failure points addressed, or you budget into your purchase price getting them attended to.

So, towards that end, budget for a new water pump, new Air/Oil Separator, new IMS if you don't want to risk a blown engine (only a 10% chance), new cam chain tensioners, and I'd replace the idler pulleys on the serpentine belt as I personally know of several that have seized and started engine fires.

Good Luck.

If you want a Boxster, buy a Boxster. I'm glad I did. Best damn car I've ever owned.

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