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Old 07-17-2019, 12:26 PM   #1
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A $1,600 Boxster and two projects

I have bought a few 'cheap Porsches' before and know what to expect. When I saw this 2001 offered at $1,700, I had to check out.
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Engine doesn't turn and cheap seat covers covering badly cracked leather, but Litronic lights and no serious body damage. I see plenty of opportunity to get my money back out of it, but I also see a great opportunity to build a 986 for the Grassroots Motorsports $2,000 Challenge. I offered $1,600 and the seller agreed. We did a simple trailer to trailer transfer and I parked it for a few days while I figured out what to do next.




The $2,000 Challenge is a competition with a three events: autocross, concours, and drag race. The total budget for buying and building the car is $2,000, but there are ways to manipulate the budget with trades, exceptions, and up to $1,000 'recoup' from selling parts. Parts that come off the car for recoup don't actually have to be sold. You can 'sell them to yourself' if you document the fair market value price. Starting at $1,600 I can get $1,000 recoup from Litronics, storage shelf, and headlight washers (I have cracked, yellowed junk lights I can replace them with at nominal value. That put my starting budget at $600 spent with $1,400 to build with.




Originally my thought was to verify the engine was not economically repairable, then either fix it, or swap in an Audi V8 ABZ engine ($600 complete with ECU) that's been sitting in my garage. As I did a more detailed Post Purchase Inspection, I realized that it was a nicer car than the 1999 that my daughter drives. I checked with the organizer of the Challenge and got approval to trade the chassis of the 1999 for the 2001 as long as it is clearly documented on my 'build book' budget. The concept is simple, but I'll have to be careful about the details, part-for-part, to keep it clean.
The plan emerged:
  • Pull parts from the 2001 for recoup.
  • Remove the engine from the '99 and put it in an equal state to the 2001.
  • Officially 'trade cars' with myself.
  • Fix the 2001 (install a 2.5L or buy a 2.7L engine) and install the recouped parts back on it, since it is no longer the Challenge car.
  • Strip out the 1999 to lighten it and swap in the Audi V8.
  • Figure out tires, wheels, suspension, aero, etc. with what remains in the budget.


I have no illusion that I will actually be competitive at the Challenge, but I will compete. This is about having fun and making a decent car for my daughter and a toy for me from the pile of stuff I have accumulated in the driveway.

As I write this, the 2001 is outside in the parking lot. I drove it to work today with a 2.5L 1997 engine in it. More on that with my next update.

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(Here's the build thread on another forum if you want to jump ahead: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/challenge-boxster/154304/page1/ )
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Last edited by 78F350; 07-17-2019 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 07-17-2019, 12:41 PM   #2
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where`s the Popcorn...awesome
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:24 PM   #3
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doood.......

this will be AWESOME FUN!!!
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:23 PM   #4
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Nice! I'm going to be following this!
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:29 PM   #5
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I started work on the 2001. When I first looked at it, I still hoped that the engine would be repairable – maybe a bad AOS. The initial inspection of the oil filter showed plenty of metal and hopes of an easy fix died. A deeper look showed a valve and most of at least one piston sitting in the sump. At that point, to me, the engine is trash other than some salvageable parts.



I decided to try out a 2.5L 1997 engine that I have had sitting outside under a tarp for a couple years. Really not a wise choice, but there it was right next to the garage, waiting to be used or scrapped. It had been in a 2000 S before, where it never ran right and just dumped coolant and ran hot when I tried to kill it on the track at Hallett. I had offered to give it away, but the logistics never worked out. I wasn't even sure it would run anymore after sitting outside for so long. Knowing that it could be a waste of time, I went ahead and swapped it in. If it failed, I could use the engine from the '99 or just do the V8 swap in this car.



There are differences between the 1997 2.5L and the 2001 2.7L engines. There are enough similarities though that the swap can be worked out. I took all of the intake, fuel, wiring, and vacuum parts from the top of the 2.7 and put them on the 2.5. The 2.7 intake runners would not bolt to the 2.5 without 'adjusting' some of the mounting holes a few millimeters from their original location. The intake ports on the 2.5 engine are significantly smaller than the 2.7, but the seals still met the machined metal.



Other differences were the coolant purge line on the 2.5 goes to the front of the engine under the AC compressor, where on all the later engines, it connects to the top of the oil cooler. The oil cooler has a different mounting base on the 1997 engine and will need an adapter to use a later unit. I had to swap a coolant temp sensor on the front of the engine to fit the harness. Otherwise, the wires, hoses, nuts and bolts all seem to have worked out.



I started to replace the oil cooler, but found that it wasn't going to work without an adapter plate and put the old cooler back on with new o-rings. I still want to replace it. Now I'm curious: will a Tiptronic transmission oil cooler fit? Looking at diagrams of the 'Nissens' brand at Rock Auto, it looks like a good fit. Why not just get a correct 1997 oil cooler? Why not get the adapter plate and use the “S” oil cooler I bought? Sometimes I just like to make things a little more difficult for myself. ...curiosity. Anyone have an extra adapter plate or Tiptronic cooler???
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Last edited by 78F350; 07-17-2019 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 78F350 View Post
Anyone have an extra adapter plate or Tiptronic cooler???
I have the original cooler from my 98, replaced with the S cooler.

Nothing wrong with it. No leaks. I just wanted the upgrade.

It's yours... Gratis. Just pay shipping. PM me.
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:58 AM   #7
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If anyone wants, I can get into further detail about swapping the 2.5L in or replacing the engine in general, but there are plenty of posts here on the forum about installing an engine. A few notes: This engine already had a recent AOS and water pump replacement. I opted not to do the IMS/RMS. They looked good with no leaks and as a 1997 engine it has a dual row bearing. Given the history of this engine, I expect some other failure before the IMS goes. It had a failed water pump when I first got it and I flushed water through the cooling system after removing it from the 2000 S and before installing it in this car. I am still not sure that all the coolant passages are clear.



My wife recorded video of it's first drive with the replacement engine. It ran rough at idle when I first started it, but smoothed out above 2,000 rpm. I knew it could be minor and simple, or a sign of impending doom. For an engine that sat abandoned under a tarp in my driveway for two years, I call running at all a big win.
Video: https://youtu.be/QkheUt0eRUs

Using an Autel MD802 showed codes for a misfire on 2 and 5. Troubleshooting, I started by replacing the coil and plug in 5. That cleared it. With 2, I tried the coil first. -Still a misfire. I swapped in a plug and it cleared. All the plugs are old, and I'm not sure why those two were bad. I'm going to replace them all with new ones later. With the misfires cleared, it was smooth except for a quick surge at idle. That got better and went away as the ECU adapted to the 2.5L engine.



Now that its a running, driving car, I can get a look at all the other problems. A quick list from my first drive included: The washer fluid tank leaks, Brake wear light is on, Airbag light is on because I disconnected the SRS while my grandson rides with me, Steering wheel is canted about 15 degrees when the car is straight (Alignment seems good, so I'm guessing the wheel was not set when it was aligned.), Typical old Boxster issue of windows not quite operating right when the doors close, Heat shield on the exhaust rattling, and more. Nothing serious, but lots of little things, common for a 18 year old car that has seen a lapse of care.



I'm driving it daily to work this week. I'll probably fix some of the minor issues in the evenings. My only big concern right now is the issue the engine had before with cooling. I have smelled some coolant when I parked it, and the coolant level has changed as I have driven it. It may be fine, since I didn't really take the time to purge the air out of the system after refilling. I've been driving with the tank vent open to allow the air out of the system. I'll see how it progresses and flush/replace the coolant in about a week.

Next, I want to start focusing on the actual Challenge car and V8 swap. The work on the '01 has been a good warm up and refresher. It will also be a back-up car for the Challenge if I run into problems or bust the budget with the other car.
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Last edited by 78F350; 07-18-2019 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 07-18-2019, 07:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starter986 View Post
I have the original cooler from my 98, replaced with the S cooler.

Nothing wrong with it. No leaks. I just wanted the upgrade.

It's yours... Gratis. Just pay shipping. PM me.
Awesome, thanks! Sending a PM.
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Old 07-19-2019, 08:28 AM   #9
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A question was asked about how to get the engine out and how high the car has to be. I just use cheap Harbor Freight jacks and jackstands. I'd love a scissor lift or QuickJack.

Here's my answer to how I did it this time:
To get the engine out, I just used jack stands on top of concrete blocks (laying on their side). The front wheels were on "Rhino ramps". For a jack, I use a "Pittsburgh Automotive 3 Ton Heavy Duty Ultra Low Profile Steel Floor Jack" from Harbor Freight for about $79.
I lowered the engine and transmission together with the jack under transmission and an "ATV Lift" under the engine. Use a couple blocks of wood for padding or to fill space.
After it's lowered on the jack, I get it off the jack onto a sheet of cardboard or plywood, then slide it out on the floor. I usually have to rotate the engine to get it past the suspension support.



I don't have an exact height. "As high as my jack can get it" is what I use. Higher is better. Always have another support in place to prevent the car from falling more than a couple inches.

A good alternative method is to drop the rear suspension with the engine and transmission. I have done that too. Here's a post with pics of that being done on Tom Stone's car: Spec Boxster Build
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Old 07-30-2019, 07:51 PM   #10
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I'm still debating if I want to keep the 2.5L engine in the '01, or go ahead and swap the Audi engine into it rather than the '99. I've had two problems develop:
  • When the car is driven hard, the the coolant tank over-pressurizes and vents coolant. The engine still runs in the normal temperature range, but the coolant level drops. I actually had a guy in a Mustang wave me down because he though I had a fuel leak (coolant draining out by the right rear wheel).
  • I got a check engine light with codes P1128 and P1130, which from my understanding means that the O2 sensor is detecting a lean condition that cannot be compensated for.
Water punp that I removed when I first got the engine:

This engine had a failure of the water pump that put debris from the composite impeller into the cooling system. It was like that when I bought it in a cheap Boxster S and I eventually removed the engine because of it. I was hoping that a thorough flush of the engine would clear it. My theory is that a piece of debris is either causing a hot-spot in the engine making steam or keeping an air pocket in the system, which expands. My next (last?) attempt to resolve the cooling will be to replace the oil cooler.

Venturi tube removed from intake:

At first, I thought that the 1128 and 1130 DTCs were from using the intake and DME for the 2.7L engine with a 2.5L engine – too much air for the 2.5. Some reading showed that there are a variety of causes and cures for those codes, so I checked a few things. Oil cap and crank case vacuum were good. Next I looked for intake leaks. I found that the brake booster venturi line was starting to separate from the intake just before the throttle body allowing unmetered air in. I'm planning to remove the intake tubing and fix it or replace it. For the moment, I have the venturi hose and hole in the intake 'patched' with Gorilla Tape. I'll see if the codes come back. It takes about 50 miles of driving to get the codes to trigger.

I really want to get moving on the Audi swap. I don't need have the actual swap car ready to get started. For fitting the engine, I have a parts car already that I can use to develop the engine support with. For wiring, I have charts and pin-outs for most of it already worked out. This week I plan to pull the harness off of the ABZ (1998 32-valve Audi V8) and splice on harness connections from a 2001 car that I stripped. That should allow me to work on the harness in air conditioned comfort, then just plug it in when I install the engine in the car.
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Last edited by 78F350; 07-31-2019 at 09:37 AM. Reason: deleted, a few, extra commas,,,
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Old 07-30-2019, 08:02 PM   #11
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Here's some of the damage to the 2.7L engine I removed:



It looks to me like the front left (Bank 2, cylinder 4) rod broke and destroyed the piston, valves, and cylinder, or a big "D chunk" took it out. The rest of the engine looks good other than damage from debris and wear on the chain guides.
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Old 08-05-2019, 09:27 PM   #12
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I thought that I had much of the wire harness work done already, but when I started looking at the details from my previous work using an '03 Audi V8 I realized that almost none of it matched the '98 harness. The 2003 uses Bosch Motronic ver. 7.1 and the 1998 uses ver. 5.4.


Here's a problem: The transmission control module connector wired into the ABZ engine harness is different than the Porsche 986 Tiptronic connector. It looks the same and plugs in, but the wiring is different. The ABZ (1998) ECU and TCM do not use CAN at all. I had expected some problems with software/firmware, but this could lead me straight to transmission Limp Mode or physical damage to the TCM or transmission.


My plan is to re-wire the TCM connector on the Audi harness to be as close to the one in a 1999 Boxster as I can make it. There are some specific connections on the 1999 Boxster diagram that aren't included in the 2001, so I'm guessing that the '99 CAN bus carries less of the load.

If I was running with a manual transmission, there would still be some quirks from the missing signals from the automatic transmission unless I chipped the ECU. Pricey, but effective. At best, running with the Tiptronic transmission, there will be some problems. My goal is to get it mostly functional and driveable even if it means using a few work-arounds to keep it out of Limp Mode.


I have two fall-back plans to keep the Boxster for the Challenge if this swap turns into a complete mess. One is to stay with the 2.5L engine and work on making the car as light as possible. The car is running decent right now and could do the Challenge -not competitively, but still fun. The other is to pull my 2003 Audi 4.2L engine out of another project, fit it into the $2,000 budget, and hope the CAN signals from that will work with the Boxster TCM and transmission the wiring looks the same.
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