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Old 05-13-2015, 08:13 AM   #1
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Buying a Boxster - Priorities in the hunt

Hi all -

Been browsing the forums for a while and have been looking for a Boxster for equally as long. Had an NA '95 Miata for a few years, followed by a MR2 Spyder that I engine swapped with a 2zz good for 200 hp. Had a blast in that car for 3 years then had two kids - so the two seaters (the MR2 and a DeLorean) had to go in exchange for a four seater and a toy the family could enjoy (boat). Well I am a roadster guy at heart, so back to searching for a nice drop top two seater.

Settled so far on a Boxster, and really trying to narrow down from there. Have a budget in mind in the teens, so really looking for the best car I can get in that range. So far the 'need' list is an S, 01+, with HID. 'Prefer' list would be all leather, sport rims. 'Nice' list would be a 03+ with the glass rear window. Not against a 05+ either, but on the upper end of my budget from what I've seen. Something I am neglecting here? Have a feeling TC or PSM are going to be the heavy comments.

Well aware of the IMS problems, RMS problems, cylinder wall issue, etc. Already proactively have a IMS toolkit, durametric, etc that I found locally. Plan on doing my own work and replacing parts as needed. I know many folks recommend a PPI, and I am not against it if I am buying sight unseen, but if I can see the car in person (close enough to transact locally), I feel I could do as good of a job from past mechanical experience (rebuilding a DeLorean frame off, engine rebuild/swap, etc) and have the tools to check the needed items.

Really looking for advice on what to look for from a seller, and if I am crazy with my stipulation list which has now grown. In my search I've found the 1-2 owner cars are in the best condition. Also, that the better documented a car is, the better general overall condition its in. So, am I crazy if I find a high mileage car thats well documented and a 2 owner car, and pick it over a 4-5 owner car that has 30k miles with zero paperwork? Have a feeling that my gut is right here, but looking for opinions. If you were between two, high mileage (even 130k+) well documented, vs low mileage no documentation (even a dealer car), what would you choose? Also, from my search I've tended to find that cars with a pristine soft touch coating on the door sill/center console/stereo area tend to be the ones that are extremely well taken care of, so that in pictures of listings seems to be my tell tale sign of abuse.

Thanks for the feedback, all appreciated!

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Old 05-13-2015, 08:27 AM   #2
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'00 was the first year for the S. Many that year still have the double-row IMS bearing. Is there a reason for the 01+ stipulation? Just curious. I've had a '00S for 7-8 years now with extremely good luck! (knock on wood)… Good luck!
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:49 AM   #3
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Would consider a 2000 also depending on its history. Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:52 AM   #4
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I'd still recommend a good and thorough PPI from an unbiased third party, unless you are have access to a lift to really get up and under it.

For me - I love my cruise control, although suspect all the S's have that option? And I love my music while cruising - so the bose surround system with the sub was important to me. (the base stereo is not overly strong - the high end Bose is actually pretty good IMO)
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Old 05-13-2015, 09:52 AM   #5
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There is one thing for absolute certain in my opinion. You will either love whatever Boxster you buy or you will hate it..I love mine since it's been trouble free, relatively easy to work on and drives and looks beautiful. But if you have any major problems I can see regretting the purchase. Best of luck!
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Old 05-13-2015, 10:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giller View Post
I'd still recommend a good and thorough PPI from an unbiased third party, unless you are have access to a lift to really get up and under it.

For me - I love my cruise control, although suspect all the S's have that option? And I love my music while cruising - so the bose surround system with the sub was important to me. (the base stereo is not overly strong - the high end Bose is actually pretty good IMO)
I do have access to a lift if its a local sale. I can see the benefit of the Bose, as I've also seen some really bad aftermarket installs on a few cars when attempting to upgrade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SJEFFB986 View Post
There is one thing for absolute certain in my opinion. You will either love whatever Boxster you buy or you will hate it..I love mine since it's been trouble free, relatively easy to work on and drives and looks beautiful. But if you have any major problems I can see regretting the purchase. Best of luck!
I can see your viewpoint, although I tend to look at problems as a reason to improve, and they turn into longer term projects - as once you are in there, why not upgrade!
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Old 05-13-2015, 11:57 AM   #7
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1996-1999 basically the same car "986.1"
2000-2004 basically the same car "986.2"
2005-2008 Basically the same car "987.1"
2009-20011 Basically the same car "987.2"
2012-2015 Basically the same car "981.1"

Sure the above have some options standard over others, but most of these can be added in the aftermarket and really are not the main thing to look out for, which is the engine.

Now I'm going to get really specific. Maybe too specific, but whatever.
First, try to find a car from Southern California (preferably in suburban areas and not cars that have been idling in traffic most of their lives -- not good for the engine). These are mostly cars driven year-round. A good thing. Cars that have been stored during winter need to be stored properly (fresh oil immediately before going in the garage). You want a car that was driven for more than five minutes each time it went out for a spin. Long stints help burn off the buildup.

Secondly, you want cars that have low miles. It's better to have a 2000 car with 30K miles than a 2004 car with 60K miles. Especially if the cars were driven in climates where there are extremes heat or cold. Those very expensive parts start to go in such conditions at around the 70K mile mark in my experience. I had almost no repairs for the first 70K miles of my car, and once I crossed that line it was one thing after another that went without warning along with the known Boxster weak spots.

Third, you want a car that is sold by a private seller with a solid history and records. These are most common if they are enthusiast-owned. Check all the Porsche forums, a lot, there's no middle man or website fee to pay. Cars with murky or no service history should be priced accordingly -- higher risk, don't overpay. Also, private sellers are more flexible with negotiating a sale price.

If I were buying now, and even if you are handy with the tool box, I'd still look in the forums for cars that have already had the IMS replaced, along with the clutch and flywheel. Preferably a dual row IMS bearing as these last longer than single row bearings -- dual row bearings will last until at least the next clutch job (ie typical mileage). A single row bearing replacement should not be kept in for more than 50K miles according to the experts on this matter. Make sure the car has recorded at least, oh say 1k miles since the IMS was replaced, more is better. This means that the old bearing was still in good shape and didn't start imploding before the owner tried to cover his tracks and slip in a new bearing. If the bearing begins to fail before it's swapped, the engine will need to be rebuilt otherwise its a big roll of the dice as all those little fragments get stuck in areas that can take down the engine. The next thing I would look for would be a 200-2002 S model, these have stronger cylinder walls, while the 2003-2004 engine changes make certain types of lifter failures more likely (flame suit on) than in 2000-2002 cars.
I would avoid any high mileage car that has not had suspension work, it can get VERY expensive quickly unless you have the space, tools and time to DIY, which it sounds like you are. But to those that aren't DIY, at independent shop rates a suspension overhaul can run $4-5K. But a worn out suspension left on a car for too long can wear down a bunch of other things. Do the motor mounts once you get the car, it makes a big difference, especially if the gear change makes a racket. . Also, Extra points to an owner who proactively replaced the water pump after it was at least five years old. And extra points for someone who at least replaced the coolant cap with the last version (2004). That little $20 cap can do a lot of damage if its not holding enough pressure. An owner who took the time to replace it, probably takes the time to do many other things before they break. If the coolant was flushed in preparation for sale, definitely make sure the cap has been updated. Each time an old 10+ year old cap is unscrewed it will probably hold less pressure, which can lead to cracking of original coolant tank which is probably brittle with age. The AOS is another weak spot, if this hasn't been replaced yet, it may let go soon.
These are all parts that should be proactively attended to because they can all take down the engine.

Outside, check the rear tires. If the tread is past it, offer less money because tires for this car are not cheap and you don't want cheap tires on this car, what's the point... And check the paint, because once a body shop sees a Porsche coming they see dollar signs. The soft top will cost you about $1500 to replace if its been worn out, you can add glass this way if its pre-2003. And when you do the PPI, I would hask for a leak down and compression test to make sure the car is even worth buying in the first place (see wisdom of changing water pump proactively every 5 years). Bad numbers on this testing can signal big issues. I did none of these things..... but then again my car only had 9K miles when I bought it.
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Old 05-13-2015, 12:28 PM   #8
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If I was buying a 986 Boxster, I'd look for a $15k '03-'04 with 45k and records. I'd consider the IMS, AOS, Water Pump, clutch, brakes, alignment and tires and a major service as items that I'd account for in my planning budget.

When I bought my second, I did a PPI and then spent $3k to get it to where I knew its maintenance was to my standards. Then virtually nothing for the next 5 years.

Boxsters are frequently cars owned at a time in your life. I knew why both of mine were being sold when I bought them and I was the third owner in both cases. The guy that bought my second Boxster got a well maintained car and he bought if precisely for that reason. The fifth owner of my car didn't get such a well maintained car from a note he wrote me and he now has do do some serious work to the little wear items that were neglected.
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Old 05-13-2015, 04:19 PM   #9
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Thanks for the comments thus far, especially the S. CA mention. I'm not sure if its just due to an abundance of Boxsters out there, but there seems to be lower prices and better cared for cars out in CA. Just a longer drive home or further distance to ship!
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Old 05-13-2015, 05:44 PM   #10
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Think of the drive home as a road trip! Lots of cars in Cali., hence the lower prices. I bought my '01 S there and drove it back to Montreal, Canada. Lots of fun! In CA the plates stay with the car so no transit hassle. No snow or constant rain, hence less corrosion.
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Old 05-21-2015, 11:26 AM   #11
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Well, found one closer to me but will still be a bit of travel ~ 6-7 hours away. Put down a deposit today, will be picking it up in a week and a half.

2000 Boxster S, Silver / Black, 80k miles.

Has a few items to fix up when I get it - top plastic split due to no-chopping, so will be replacing that with a new glass top immediately, and one spot for paintless dent repair. And of course an AOS, LN dual row bearing (assuming, will be taking apart before I order to confirm), and RMS. Followed shortly thereafter by water pump and possibly underdrive pully while I am in there.

Looking forward to it!


Last edited by DMage; 05-21-2015 at 12:09 PM.
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