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Old 01-17-2010, 02:45 PM   #1
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Engine question for Jake and Charles

Do either of you guys have an opinion on how much of a factor the mass-marketization of Porsche starting with the Boxster has been a contributing factor to all the engine problems? Until the Boxster, there were no water cooled horizontal opposed engines. Relatively few people bought Porsches as fashion statements. When the Boxster came out, a whole new population of Porsche drivers joined the marque. It seems like the traditional air-cooled 911 guys understood Porsches need to be driven reasonably hard and in the higher RPM range fairly often. Newcomers (myself included, my '01 Boxster was my first Porsche) are more accustomed to lower revving engines. Porsche obviously went through a lot of testing with these engines before releasing the first Boxsters and water-cooled Carreras to the public. Do you think if the cars were tested as newcomers drive them, as opposed to the way Porsches were meant to be driven, would have highlighted a lot of the problems appearing sooner, allowing Porsche to redesign the engines to fix problems?

I realize this calls for a bit of speculation on your parts. I was just thinking about this as I was driving yesterday and wondering how Porsche engineers could have missed all these problems (ignoring all the inputs from Porsche's accountants)
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:32 PM   #2
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Anything I'd post would be pure speculation and would probably open up a can of worms that I'd rather not deal with.

Give us a few more years to see how the engines continue to live and maybe a post like this could be more accurately responded to.

Having grown up around air-cooled Porsches and owning one continually since the age of 12 I will say the general water-cooled Porsche driver is pulled from a different mould than those of yesterday.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:48 PM   #3
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I think you bring up a very valid point Geoff - and I can understang JR not wanting to supply ammunition, but he is correct - the air cooled Porsches were bought by more hard core enthusiasts - and they HAD to be enthusiasts considering the purchase price, running costs and marginal accomodation compared to the opposition.

But if Porsche had continued down the "one car fits all" line (the 911), then I doubt that they would have been in business today, or at the very least, would have been taken over by another car company!
But when offering a cheaper alternative to the 911 you are entering a very different buying segment, where the enthusiast (once the mainstream buyer) has now been replaced by a more generic consumer who either doesn't know or doesn't care about the finer details of servicing. maintenance or good driving habits.
So sure, maybe Porsche cocked up, saved the company by selling a cheap Porsche but didn't allow for the type of abuse non enthusists bring into the equation. Then add in the fact that we live in a more throw away society too.

It breaks my heart when I read on some of the Forums where people discuss for dozens of threads why they should push out their oils changes to 20,000 miles or that they have ground down their brake discs to below recommended limits (without any problems) and how crap Porsche is for putting an ECU under the seat where it can get filled with water Enthusiasts they are not.
And the end results are that serious weak spots surface earlier because Porsche didn't realise who would buy their cheap sports car......
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Old 01-17-2010, 06:05 PM   #4
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In times past Porsche enthusiasts would never sell their car because the engine failed.. I have NEVER experienced an air-cooled Porsche owner who has sold their car after the engine grenaded and thats no exaggeration. With the water-cooled cars it happens daily.

Remember that the vintage 911 wasn't without it's faults... Bad chain tensioners, pulled head studs and bad oil system O rings are just a few of the faults of the mid era 911 engines...

I wonder how many owners of modern Porsches would sacrifice their awesome heat and A/C for the Porsche driving experience? My favorite Porsche is my 912E and thats because the car is what a Porsche "is" to me... A fun to drive, somewhat raw vehicle thats a little loud, has some air drafts with marginal heat and a whole lot of simplicity.

I will say that I prefer to track my Boxster or my 996 more than the 912E, primarily because if I go off track and roll either one of the watercooled cars and can walk away from it I'll walk away not really giving a damn... If I did that with my 912E I'd be crying for a week.

The Boxster is a well built car in many aspects and I do enjoy driving mine as well as my 996 and enjoy their creature comforts.

My Boxster was the first modern car I ever owned, prior to that a "late model" to me was a 1976.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:15 PM   #5
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Are modern Porsches owned by different customers than Porsche had in the 70s and 80s? Weren't 911s luxury items then too, albeit more pure ones. Weren't (and aren't) many of the owners of earlier 911s using them for simple commuting and pleasure driving?

Weren't the 928s, that were built for 15+ years mostly cruisers and a larger percentage automatics?

Hasn't Porsche had lower price point models in the 912-914-924-944-968 that might be owned by customers who might not take the same level of care in their car than the more expensive models?

It's easy to look at the Boxster as something new and unique in Porsche's lineup, but it's really not from a product standpoint. It just happens to use alot more 911 content then the previous "other" Porsches.

I argue that the way modern Porsches are treated are probably no different from that of the production cars through most of Porsche's history.

The big difference instead being the internet shining a light on the issues that current cars are having. As Jake points out, Porsches of various generations and engine configurations have had engine problems. I'm sure if the internet had existed in the mid-70s everyone on a Porsche board would have freaked out about warped heads and stripped blocks or worn valve seals in the mid-80s.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's just easier for information (and the related potential for sensationalism) to travel along the information superhighway.
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:40 PM   #6
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err - yes and maybe... Boxster owners are different from early 911 owners.

I would guess that Porsche ownership today is more affordable than what it was in the 1960's and 1970's - which brings back the point that Boxsters (and to a lesser extent 924/944/968) owners are not as savvy as early 911 buyers, because Porsche are aiming the Boxster product at a different market.
Early cars had no power steering, no cooling worth mentioning, all manual gears, no brake booster etc etc. Could you get your wife into one - at more money than a Mercedese or a Caddi?? Would she buy one??
In the US, how many weeks pay would it have cost in 1965 to buy a 911S, E or T? Even the 912 was not a "cheap" option either. I think you would have had to have been a pretty commited enthusiast to buy any of them!
A lot more committed than todays Boxster buyer I would venture.

Though I fully agree about the superhighway......
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:30 PM   #7
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I love driving my Boxster. It has good power, sexy body and very comfortable interior.

However, I owned three 914s before and I loved driving those cars even though they were underpowered and not too comfortable. Somehow the driving experience was more satisfying and the "feel" of the car is something I couldn't really put my finger on. Plus I could thrash those cars and they just kept on going. I still own and drive cars from the '70s and they give a different level of driving satisfaction modern cars cannot.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue2000s
Are modern Porsches owned by different customers than Porsche had in the 70s and 80s? Weren't 911s luxury items then too, albeit more pure ones. Weren't (and aren't) many of the owners of earlier 911s using them for simple commuting and pleasure driving?

Weren't the 928s, that were built for 15+ years mostly cruisers and a larger percentage automatics?

Hasn't Porsche had lower price point models in the 912-914-924-944-968 that might be owned by customers who might not take the same level of care in their car than the more expensive models?

It's easy to look at the Boxster as something new and unique in Porsche's lineup, but it's really not from a product standpoint. It just happens to use alot more 911 content then the previous "other" Porsches.

I argue that the way modern Porsches are treated are probably no different from that of the production cars through most of Porsche's history.

The big difference instead being the internet shining a light on the issues that current cars are having. As Jake points out, Porsches of various generations and engine configurations have had engine problems. I'm sure if the internet had existed in the mid-70s everyone on a Porsche board would have freaked out about warped heads and stripped blocks or worn valve seals in the mid-80s.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's just easier for information (and the related potential for sensationalism) to travel along the information superhighway.

Golf clap. Nicely stated.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Tinker
err - yes and maybe... Boxster owners are different from early 911 owners.

I would guess that Porsche ownership today is more affordable than what it was in the 1960's and 1970's - which brings back the point that Boxsters (and to a lesser extent 924/944/968) owners are not as savvy as early 911 buyers, because Porsche are aiming the Boxster product at a different market.
Early cars had no power steering, no cooling worth mentioning, all manual gears, no brake booster etc etc. Could you get your wife into one - at more money than a Mercedese or a Caddi?? Would she buy one??
In the US, how many weeks pay would it have cost in 1965 to buy a 911S, E or T? Even the 912 was not a "cheap" option either. I think you would have had to have been a pretty commited enthusiast to buy any of them!
A lot more committed than todays Boxster buyer I would venture.

Though I fully agree about the superhighway......
Cars today are a higher % of the US average annual salary than they ever have been. If anything, they're more precious than ever. The big difference is financing allowing more people to own expensive cars.

Porsches were more rudimentary in the past than they are today (which I actually prefer the old cars), but so were all sports cars. Have you ever been in a mid-70s Corvette? The 924 was a luxury boat by comparison. I still contend that the market segment that bought Porsches in the past are still the same that buy them today. You can't look just at 911s, someone who bought a Boxster today is probably more likely to have bought a 944 than a 911 back in the day.

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Old 01-18-2010, 12:57 PM   #10
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Thanks all for the thoughtful and insightful comments, especially Jake. I specifically did not ask about the four cylinder 924/944/968 or V-8 928, since Porsche clearly intended those for a different market than the 911. The 924 wasn't even designed to be a Porsche and came with a VW engine. No new ground for Porsche in those engines compared to the radical change from air cooled flat-6 to water cooled (even though some flat-6 race engines had water cooled heads).

A most interesting observation that in the past that nobody would discard a vintage 911 because of a motor that self-destructed (and some did). From what I've read, proper engine work on an old air cooled flat 6 is not as inexpensive as on the M96 ones, and top end work comes much sooner on the old air cooled ones.

Clearly it's not just accountants calling the shots to blame, because the Cayenne came after the original Boxster to drive Porsche's profits higher, and there are no Cayenne engine horror stories like with our Boxsters. Maybe Porsche recognized SUV drivers weren't the same sort of enthusiasts as the ones who traditionally drove 911s. And the Cayennes come with the same ridiculously high oil change intervals with Mobil 1 0w40 as the Boxster and Carrera (lower OCI for DFI engines).

The market dynamics for the Boxster are certainly different than in the past, with Boxsters and Carreras bought as both serious sports cars and fashion statements (I think half the new Carreras I see around here are driven by women). Last week I went to my local Porsche dealer to see if they could figure out a front end squeak. The lead mechanic and I went for an extended joy ride through the canyons trying to identify the source of the sound, and he commented he would love to get a Boxster to go with his vintage canyon racer 911s, but his wife wouldn't let him have any more projects - he loved the balance and driving dynamics of the Boxster.

I think it will be really interesting to hear from Jake when he has more data built up how many engine failures are with enthusiasts, and how many are with just regular car drivers. Also, how many happily followed Porsche's maintenance specs and how many cut the oil change interval in half or more
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:55 PM   #11
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Hello.
I personally think that introducing an entry-level models such as 924, 944 or 986 was a great idea.
The fact that a person cannot afford a 911 doesn’t make him less of an enthusiast. Being able to buy a Boxster at todays low prices means that you can afford it a lot sooner in your life, so you can spend more time behind the wheel, rather than just looking at the poster on the wall.
The fact that the parts for it are cheaper and more readily available means that I can spend more time working on it myself and further appreciating the engineering and build quality that was put into these cars. I’m sure that owning a brand new 911 and its new car smell is great and hopefully some day I will experience it, but I doubt that it will give me much more smiles than my 7 years old Boxster that was purchased for a price of a used civic.
Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:47 PM   #12
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The only problem is even when Porsches are old enough to be affordable to purchase they are not affordable to repair.

Thats why we end up with cars that are "totaled" when their engines fail.

Affording to buy a Porsche is one thing, affording to correctly maintain and repair it is another.
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake Raby
The only problem is even when Porsches are old enough to be affordable to purchase they are not affordable to repair.

Thats why we end up with cars that are "totaled" when their engines fail.

Affording to buy a Porsche is one thing, affording to correctly maintain and repair it is another.

Good point. I love the 944 and 968 models. Ditto the 929. However, to buy one and KEEP IN RUNNING is more than I want to take on.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:22 AM   #14
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But with driveable Boxsters at $8k now

They are going to a different demographic that early Porsches.

Those very early cars either rusted out or stayed in the family. They weren't looked at as "gee, I can drive a Porsche for $8k kinda cars". And the people that kept them had the money to maintain them or parked them in a barn. And there was no Internet. The Porsche clubs were small and news traveled slowly.

There were few dealers and even fewer mechanics. And the dealers were dealing with one type of car/engine, not the air cooled, VW-engined, SUV, 8-cyl, turbo, smog-treated, etc. they have to know about today.

And the factory was focused, not stretched to provide a car for every niche.

Plus the economy was very different and, if you couldn't afford the rebuild now, you aspired to next year.

So get people stretching to buy a 4th owner first few years of production Boxster and you are going to have reports of problems. Both from design and age and use and lack of proper maintenance. Does the guy who paid $8k take it to the local shade tree or to a mechanic who really knows the cars but charges more for the knowledge, parts, tool expense, etc.

The emphasis was on engineering the car, not financial engineering.

Think what could have been done on reliability updates if the money hadn't been funding some big-shots grand scheme to inflate his sense of self worth by taking over a mega corporation.

Yes it was a different world.
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:41 AM   #15
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Maybe it's just me, but it seems a little unfair to dump all of this on the driver. I've been finding ways to ruin motors since I was 16, but this is the first car I've owned where the dealer by and large just junks the engine if something significant fails. I've spun bearings, snapped an oil pump shaft, warped more than a couple of heads, exploded flywheels, and inflicted damage of varying degrees of complexity and expense on my cars over the years. For those cars that were under warranty, this was always stuff the dealer just dealt with. Needs new bearings? You're gonna wait a while, but we'll get to it.

As Jake has explained in the past, the Porsche response (at least for a long time) has been to replace the motor rather than getting busy with the internals. When the diagnosis from your dealer includes a $12K item in the "Parts" column, and your car is worth $10K, what conclusion is your average Joe supposed to come to?

We've all had that internal "Crap, do I sell it now while it's running, or do I keep it because it's finally running now" debate (even with a car you LOVE) after dumping money in for a rebuilt transmission or some other pricey repair. Granted, for me, that was always a $500 repair on a car worth $2000 - but it sure seems applicable to $15,000 repairs on a $10,000 car...
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:56 AM   #16
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Its a modern world... Until I bought a Boxster the newest thing I owned was a '76 model... Older cars were and everything else was made to last much longer than in today's modern world.

The design of engines has been focused on production and the car being just good enough.

Most everything in today's world is just like a Bic lighter... Use it and throw it away. The Zippo doesn't have the merit it used to have.

It'll be interesting to see just how many Boxsters around in 20-30 years.
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:23 AM   #17
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Got to thinking about it. Even if the factory motor went bad, what would stop a person from doing an ev conversion rather than spending 15-20,000 for a new motor.? You would be helping the environment while also still driving a pretty cool car. RUF finished an electric 911 that I guess is amazing to say the least. Just curious what others thought.

Ruf 911
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:05 AM   #18
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Got to thinking about it. Even if the factory motor went bad, what would stop a person from doing an ev conversion rather than spending 15-20,000 for a new motor.? You would be helping the environment while also still driving a pretty cool car. RUF finished an electric 911 that I guess is amazing to say the least. Just curious what others thought.

Ruf 911
It has certainly happened in the 914 world. Having two trunks for batteries and being able to balance the mid-engine weight distribution is a plus.

Personally I'd park my Box and drive an econo-box until I could afford to let Jake loose on it.

Which I plan to do anyway when I can afford it.

Unless the liberal marxists further wreck my 401s with a few trillion spent here and a few trillion there.
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:17 AM   #19
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Until I can do an EV that includes hub-mounted motors and a really good delivery system (something along the lines of what Tesla uses), no EV for me. I'd be all over a 300WHP AWD electric Boxster with a range of a couple hundred miles.

I'd want to do a high-end conversion - but all of the stuff I've seen online at EV diy sites is all lower-end.
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:28 PM   #20
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New cars are great for about 5 years and then you are rolling the dice on all. I own a 1954 Chevy Truck, a 1979 911 SC, a 1992 MB 300E, and my 2001 Boxster S. Sometimes I wonder if keeping the Boxster in the garage is worthwhile over the 300E as I might actually own that thing longer (being one of the last truly well built MBZ). In a previous life I worked as a Mercedes warranty processor at a dealership and was shocked by what I saw in terms of quality mishaps. Still I only saw a few warranty engine replacements over three years of employment and about 80 cars through the doors a day. Millions of electronic repairs but virtually no motors. Most of the problems with the motors with MB were fixed at the dealership. Why is Porsche so different? Seems weird to me and makes me believe that there is something odd here.

Every time I get tired of no power steering in the 54 or 79 I remember that I can keep them forever. I really hate having stuff that i feel like I will have to throw away.

Jake I want you to build me a motor if the feds don't mess the economy up further, but do you think the rest of the car is up to the engineering you put into the engines?

If I get a 3.6 for the Boxster I would want to feel like I could keep it forever. Maybe I am just going to have to be an old car guy only.
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