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Old 01-16-2018, 06:10 PM   #1
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The Houston 04 SE

The Buy

It was a slow day at work so I started browsing salvage car auctions for anything interesting. A few Porsche Boxsters were coming to auction soon, and a 2004 S caught my eye. It was silver with darker 'Carerra light' wheels, a brown top, and cocoa brown leather sport seats. This wasn't just an S, it was a 50th Anniversary of the 550 Spyder, Special Edition. The auction was going to be held in a few days. I put in a low bid with no expectation of winning, just for fun. As the auction day came closer, other pre-bids approached mine. I was going to be working during the auction and was now seriously interested in the car. Concerned that I might miss the auction, I increased my bid.



Monday, before the auction started, pre-bidding pushed the car over $3,000. Still the high bidder, I raised my bid to the most I was willing to pay. At noon, the online auction started. I found that 'my car' was near the end of the list and wouldn't come up until about 3 pm. I am a bit obsessive and checked the auction status every few minutes, making those three hours seem like three days.

I have 'lost' plenty of these auctions in the past. The bidding can easily go higher than I am willing to risk on a salvage car. This car was flooded in Hurricane Harvey, over four months ago, and may not be repairable. For my bid, I considered what the total parts value of the car was likely to be. I'm not trying to make a profit. I just don't like to be upside-down in value when I purchase cars.

Finally the car was on the block. The current bid was $3,350, safely below my top bid. Seconds ticked by. There were no new bids. SOLD (on approval) to me at $3,350. “On Approval” – there is a reserve price on most of these auctions and I was expecting this one to be set somewhere between $3,500 and $5,000. I closed out the auction and checked my bid status to see the reserve price, $10,900. That's Ten Thousand, Nine Hundred Dollars for a salvage car that has been sitting for over four months, stewing. No way. With little hope, I typed in a counter-bid, well below half of the reserve.


I was disappointed that I didn't get the car, but also relieved. This car will probably need a lot of work to make it run again. After days of waiting, the thrill of winning the auction, then seeing it slip away, I needed to tell someone about it. I messaged Woody, figuring that he, if anyone, would understand. Then, I got a call and had to leave my office and the internet for a couple hours (flying).

I returned to the office that evening. There was an email... The seller had accepted my counter-offer. There was also a message from Woody: That car has been completely submerged “...You don't want that one.”
Oh crap.
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Last edited by 78F350; 01-21-2018 at 03:50 AM.
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Old 01-16-2018, 06:16 PM   #2
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Anticipation

Tuesday, the day after the auction, was my last day of work before a week off. On Wednesday I was going to travel across the country visit family in New Hampshire. It quickly sank in how crazy it was to try to buy this car now. First off, I have too many cars already, four of which are 986 Boxsters. My 1.5 car garage already has over 1.75 cars in it. Money is not really tight, but cash on hand for a wire transfer payment is not convenient. The time-window for delivery of the car is during the time I will be away. ...and the road to my home is under heavy construction. There's no way that a car hauler will be able to deliver there. Overwhelmed, I was about to give up and back out of the deal. Instead, I called my wife for support, then turned it over to God. Within an hour, the car and fees were paid for, arrangements had been made to have the car shipped to a friend's place with a gated parking lot, and I felt freed of all the worry.

Worry and stress... I have worked in life and death situations through my career; from the USCG in the 1980s, Army Blackhawk pilot in the '90s, and Emergency Medical Service pilot now. I buy cars and work on them as a way to relax and de-stress. Funny how easily I put myself in a situation to make it do the opposite.

Now I am waiting for the car to arrive. The original hauler assigned to the job, showed up too late in the day to pick up the car and drove off without it. Another will be assigned soon. Until the car arrives, I won't know the condition. Will it be repairable? The best case I can imagine would be that the key is under the seat (the car is listed as having no key), the electronics have dried, and with a fresh battery it will start right up. The worst would be that the engine, the electronics, and the interior are all trash. That still leaves a lot of the car in salvageable shape, for parting it out.
Pictures of the car I found from before it was prepped for the auction:


What I expect is that the interior will smell bad and need to be completely pulled out, disassembled, cleaned and treated, but will recover. The electronics will likely have some galvanic corrosion which can ruin the connectors as well as the modules. Even some small items such as window switches may need to be replaced. Engine and transmission? I expect that with minor disassembly (removal of components) for cleaning and a thorough flush they will still be okay. If that is the case, I'll be happy. I have repaired a flood damaged Boxster before and already have many of the parts that may be needed.


This car is really a roll of the dice, a gamble. I will not be heart broken if it is beyond my ability to repair, but I will be disappointed. My goal and hope is to restore it to impeccable condition. These 2004 Special Edition cars are limited in number (1953 made) and a beautiful piece of machinery. Until it arrives all I can do is wait and wonder.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:12 PM   #3
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3 Keys!

Of all the electronics in the car, one part that is almost certainly in need replacement is the immobilizer box under the driver's seat. Even if it is good, the odds of finding a matching key stashed somewhere in the car are on par with finding a talking unicorn in my back yard. Tonight I was looking through the PET to see if any of the parts I have will work in the 04 SE. Not as a fix, but to at least power it up as I figure out what works and what doesn't. Of my 3 sets of key fob/ DME/immobilizer, none of them were the right part number. Curious what other cars I might source it from, I typed it into Google. "99661826203"

Unbelievable... one on eBay from an '04 S SE with 3 keys, for under $500 shipped. No worries of repairing my set or flashing a SE tune to another ECU. This should work. ...hopefully the rest of the car will eventually work too.

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Last edited by 78F350; 01-16-2018 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 01-17-2018, 04:16 AM   #4
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You're a brave man, Charlie Brown.
But I know you and how you do things. It'll be on the road by summer.
I'm looking forward to seeing how you pull it off.
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Old 01-17-2018, 04:31 AM   #5
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Look forward to seeing progress.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:50 AM   #6
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That chocolate brown interior is my favorite, hopefully you can bring it back to life along with the rest of the car! Good luck
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:44 AM   #7
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Kudos...to your wife. Lol. If I bought this car, I would be living in its damp moldy embrace for well into the foreseeable future. Meals (if any) would be served and be eaten in the car. If during the course of a cold night and I pleaded for a blanket, I would be thrown a wet floor mat. I would suspect that upon my eventual demise (from hypothermia, malnutrition and whatever evil is lurking in the dampness), my body, still in the car, would be dumped in a hole, covered with concrete and a sign erected simply stating, "I told you not to. You did so anyway. Enjoy your car."

You sir, are a braver man than I....and thank-you for trying to keep a Boxster on the road. Best wishes, and I look forward to reading your progress.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:42 PM   #8
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Because the water line is above the intake and fuel tank i think new keys wouldn't cause any headache to me.

First things i would do is to drain engine, gearbox and fuel tank, pull sparks and check what i find there. I suspect lots of water.

Good luck…

Regards, Markus
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Smallblock454 View Post
Because the water line is above the intake and fuel tank i think new keys wouldn't cause any headache to me.

First things i would do is to drain engine, gearbox and fuel tank, pull sparks and check what i find there. I suspect lots of water.

Good luck…

Regards, Markus
$10K --- OMG -- not sure you'd get that much more without being a flood car...

Even at $3500 -- it was likely a 3000# paperweight...

There's a $5500 Boxster S on Austin's CL, and a $8800 S as well.
Clean titles -- good running cars.

M
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:09 PM   #10
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Great story and a car well worth saving. I saw the immobilizer set posting on EBay yesterday morning. What a break, it was meant to be. Looking forward to following your journey to bring a great ride back to life. All the best!

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#317 550 Spyder Anniversary Edition 2004 Boxster S
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by seningen View Post
$10K --- OMG -- not sure you'd get that much more without being a flood car...

Even at $3500 -- it was likely a 3000# paperweight...

There's a $5500 Boxster S on Austin's CL, and a $8800 S as well.
Clean titles -- good running cars
Its commonly stated that only 500 550 Anniversary SEs were imported into the US out of the total worldwide run of 1,953. IMHO, salvage title or not, if this car can be put back in reasonable original condition, it will become a sought after car within the next decade or so. Certain types of car buyers are constantly looking for sub model differentiation and the 2004 SE has it.

Currently, the least expensive 550 SE I can find for sell is Timco’s, then a couple at $15,500 and $17,900 and two outliers very low mileage/excellent original condition at $25,900 and $27,900. Today the NADA pricing has the SE at $11,375 for rough trade-in through $17,775 clean retail. KBB is way lower, but I’ve never found them to be a reasonable indicator for any car.
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#317 550 Spyder Anniversary Edition 2004 Boxster S
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:56 PM   #12
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Read my thread that's a few below this one. I also had a "flood" car except mine wasn't actually flooded. I did however have to replace the under seat CLU, I mention the details in there.

Goodluck on the repair.
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Old 01-17-2018, 04:47 PM   #13
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Hope you are able to resurrect this one! I bought a scratched up 550 SE front wheel on eBay from the same seller, it probably came from the same car. I had it and my other 3 wheels trued and refinished since I bent one of my front wheels beyond repair at VIR last fall. In the spring those wheels will go back on the car.
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Old 01-17-2018, 04:53 PM   #14
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FWIW, I paid much more than that for my SE in 2015. She only had 25,000 miles on her and full records. She was maintained by the book at a Porsche dealer. I over paid. But I don’t care. I love this car.
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Old 01-17-2018, 06:07 PM   #15
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I hate to say it, but there is no logical reason for me buying this car. It is more of an emotional thing. Let me be clear; the price does not matter. I spent more than I originally planned to, but at this point I have no regrets. It's also a great bonus that my wife is as psyched about this as I am. (I just need to make sure that I get the kitchen remodeled before the end of the year and all will be good.) If I wanted to buy a clear title S car, then I would have. If I wanted a clean 2004 S SE, I would have bought Tim's. What do I want? I want to get a look at this car and see if I can make it right. It's that simple.

Thanks for your comments. Sharing progress and set-backs with other enthusiasts is what moves these projects along, and I have really enjoyed following along with other's projects on the forum.
Rick, I should call or send a PM, but if you want the 2.5L long block I pulled from my 2000 S, it's yours for the price of a cup of coffee and some good stories next time we meet at Hallett.

The car has left the storage lot. It should be here tomorrow (Thursday).
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:50 AM   #16
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Hey Jon - I totally get the "emotional thing" and wanting to make the car right. I've done that in life with cars, houses, dogs and women. I've been successful at rescuing some better than others.

I'll send you a PM in the next few days - I'm happy to take you up on the 2.5 long block offer. I'm sure you've noticed I've been quieter on here the past 7-8 months. I've been working through a few things physical - it sucks getting old(er), but I'm pretty well back to normal. I didn't get on the track a single time last season - absolute physical exhaustion every single day - but a few trips to the doc and a few lifestyle tweaks have pretty well fixed everything. I'm champing at the bit to get back on the track.

I'm still working on the Spec Car project as well as all the others. Still gathering the unusual and unique for the cars - Woody is a great enabler. I was thinking just the other day I need to check with you on some ideas for a Cayenne. Trying to decide what I want in one.

I'll be in touch - Rick
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Old 01-18-2018, 05:50 AM   #17
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Thanks for your comments. Sharing progress and set-backs with other enthusiasts is what moves these projects along, and I have really enjoyed following along with other's projects on the forum.


The car has left the storage lot. It should be here tomorrow (Thursday).
Please start a build / resurrection thread here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/

The folks there eat this sort of thing up, and it will give much wider exposure to other types of folks about these cars.

Thanks - DM
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Old 01-18-2018, 01:55 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dave80GTSi View Post
Please start a build / resurrection thread here: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/
...
Thanks - DM
Thanks Dave, that sounds fun. I'll look into it after I assess the car.

Rick, Looking forward to getting together again. Sorry to hear of your trouble.

Update on the car: I finally got a call from the trucker that is delivering the car. He's not going to make it today. He will be here Friday morning before 10:00 am. We are finally going to have some warm weather, with temps into the 50s after a week of teens. The timing is actually good.
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Old 01-19-2018, 07:47 PM   #19
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My Car Fell Off the Truck

Well, it's here. I still don't understand the chain of events this morning. I had a plan. A little bit complicated, but it was a good plan. Things did not go according to the plan.
Yesterday afternoon, the hauler called to confirm the delivery instructions. I confirmed the address and explained that it was a gated parking lot rather than my residence. The road to my house is currently torn up to replace the storm drain. It's a one lane mess and no way a big car hauler should try to get through. I was going to bring the car to my house later using my own trailer. It seemed that everything was clear and understood, the driver would call me in the morning when he was 30 minutes away.

I am working nights this week, 7 pm to 7 am. It was a quiet night and I came home to a beautiful sunrise. I was excited about the car arriving, but managed to get some sleep. I awoke when the driver called at 9:30. He would arrive at 10:00 am. I went to the parking lot to meet him. 10:10, I got a call from my wife. “Your Porsche is here.”
Me: “At the house?”
“Yes.”
“No way, I didn't even give him that address.”
“It's here. I'm going out to talk to him.”
“Okay, On my way.”

My friend and I pulled into my driveway as the driver was unstrapping the Boxster from his trailer. We got out and walked towards the car, still on the trailer. I was ten feet away and saw the car start to roll. The ramps on the trailer were not placed and the unattended car was about to roll off the back. My mind knew it was too late and stopped my body. Slow motion. Too far. Bam – front wheels roll off the end. Scrape – belly slides across the end of the trailer. Thump – front wheels hit the ground. Bam – the back wheels come off the trailer and the tailpipe catches as the rest of the car falls to the road. Not a long drop, but not a good drop. I made it to the car as it continued to roll down hill, reached in and set the brake.


My wife and friend Scott later commented on how well I kept my composure. I don't remember that. In my mind I was beating the truck driver to a bloody pulp. Luckily, in this world, I was taking pictures of the damage and appearing to take it all in stride.

Why was he at my house? Why did he unload on the hill rather than the more level ground. He could have easily backed to the end of my driveway and put the car off the road. I'll never know. I signed the form acknowledging the damage he caused and he drove away before I regained my senses. Tomorrow I'll start to figure out the claims process.

Nobody was hurt. The car was damaged, but it's relatively minor: The exhaust tip is ruined and the paint is cracked around it on the rear bumper. There is some damage to the undercarriage, but it would not have been caused by this. More likely by the forklift driver at Copart. From the pictures, it happened before the auction. I'll explain all that later in another post. I'm still happy with the car and I still plan to revive it.


Sorry for the lack of Boxster content in this post. Much more of that to follow.
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:06 PM   #20
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I hope you are filing a claim with your shippers insurance!

That rear bumper skin is toast

Last edited by L1ttleBastard; 01-19-2018 at 08:07 PM. Reason: Auto-correct spelling
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