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Old 06-13-2017, 07:51 AM   #1
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Got a 986S; now getting a Vertex engine

Longtime lurker, and I finally got myself a Boxster a couple of weeks ago. Seal grey/black 2001 S, with all the options I wanted (6MT, full leather, Litronics, heated seats, Sport package, etc.)

This forum and others were indispensable in educating me on what to look for, what to expect and what to insist on. I'm posting to say hello and to provide for future lurkers some anecdotal evidence of how one must be prepared for the worst-case scenario in buying any 15 year old, somewhat exotic car.

Reading up on the forums was invaluable, both in telling me what to look for and preparing me for the fact that any old Boxster could require a big infusion of cash anytime. It was for that reason that I decided to look for a 986, rather than a 987. Both have the potential for unpredictable major failures, and both were going to be old enough to be due for some measure of age-related maintenance at this point. The cheap buy-in on a 986 meant that I could deal with even major repairs right off the bat. And it's a damn good thing I went in prepared for that.

I had been looking for a while, and had almost settled on an '00 S over in Atlanta. Just as I was making arrangements to go over, a dealer 20 miles from me came up with the car I ended up buying. I'm the third owner, and there wasn't much history with the car (except the carfax showed that the 12-year previous owner had accumulated about 3k per year like clockwork). 70k miles on the car.

I don't have any particular mechanical skill or education, but I've worked on my own cars over the years and am comfortable crawling around under one when needed. This one was nice; bone-dry underneath, all accessories functioning, top in good shape and watertight, no noises. The dealer had done an oil change when the car was traded in, but had not changed other fluids. It was obvious that no part of the suspension was recent, so I went in expecting to deal with that in the near term.

No PPI, so I was willing to pay what would work for me, even if the car had a major failure the next day. The fact that this dealer was very eager to unload an old Porsche in trade for a 2010 Lexus (it's a Toyota dealer in a country town) made the deal very appealing by the time we beat up the numbers a bit. So I jumped, and the following week or so of driving the car and getting to tinker a bit (installing rear speakers and replacing the rest, giving the car a good 2-stage polish, and replacing a few minor interior parts that had deteriorated) gave me an opportunity to really appreciate the car.

Then, after about a week, a big puddle of chocolate milkshake in the garage after a long drive. Had I bought this car at any previous point in my life (when the appeal of cheap Porsches overrode my knowledge that they're never cheap for long), this would have been a head-in-hands moment. I took it to a shop I've used in the past for other German-made follies, because I have always seen lots of 986 and 996s on the lifts there. They called that day to say that it was a cracked head. I could let them tear into it, or I could look into remanufactured engines. Knowing that fixing the head would be a bit silly if it wasn't done as part of a full rebuild, I decided that the simplest solution would be to get an engine.

I did a lot of research and found only a few places that could provide comprehensively rebuilt engines, rather than receiving and rebuilding mine (and requiring my household to work with one car for a few weeks). I settled on Vertex Automotive after having a detailed conversation with them about what I was getting, their warranty and the details of how and when we would get the thing up to SC.

So here I sit, with the engine being delivered today and installed this week. I'm still happy I bought the car, and I'm actually kind of relieved to be getting this out of the way. Am I going to end up with a $20k 2001 Boxster? Yep. Am I going to be happier with it than I would have with most any other $20k car? Yep.

I'm not sure if I'm adding anything to the conversation on this board by posting my experience (at what turns out to be great length), but I thought it might be helpful for other lurkers to get a realistic story of why we have to be prepared when we buy any older car, especially one that can be particularly expensive. There was no way to predict that the head would crack shortly after purchase (although one of you more knowledgeable folks might correct me on that), but it's not an uncommon failure for these cars. Same for some other pricey faults that could arise. So I'm glad that when I saw that really nice 987.2 that fit the budget (if one considers all available cash to devote to a car purchase the budget), I reminded myself that it would still be an expensive-to-repair, out-of-warranty car.

The second reason to post this is to start a place for me to give some updates on the Vertex engine. When researching them, I found a lot of debates about their 'eternal IMS fix,' most of which seemed to focus more on the reasons not to be a guinea pig for something new when there are well-established manufacturers with lots of bearings in circulation. I really didn't find much in the way of reports from owners of their engines, so I'd like to return and make a record of my experience with this engine (good or bad, but hopefully good) over time for the benefit of anyone else looking.

In any case, thanks to all of you for taking the time to report your experiences and add your technical knowledge to the board; I'm looking forward to being a part of the community where there's anything I can offer. Also, here's a pretty bad photo of my car.



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Old 06-13-2017, 08:27 AM   #2
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Glad the forum has been helpful to you. It was definitely my salvation in the first few years of ownership when I bought my 1997 in 2004.

My car had a brand new motor put in it prior to my purchasing the car, and since I didn't have a PPI on the car and the kid who sold it to me was using his dad's dealer license to flip cars out of the Miami auction, he didn't know it had been replaced either.

The problem with a brand new motor mated to an old transmission is that there's usually a sizable difference in torque between the old and new. In my case, my tranny developed a problem getting into 2nd gear. Replacing it with a used 5 speed with low miles was my remedy. I hope yours doesn't suffer due to the new motor.

You didn't mention if you were replacing the clutch and flywheel and rear main seal, but this would be the time to do that. Also, you should have the front motor mount replaced with a factory part (the aftermarket ones sold by Vertex and others have poly bushings that transfer a lot of vibration that is annoying).

The problem with repairing any old car is the slippery slope of "while we're in there and this old part is on the floor, let's put a new one in and save on the labor."

BTW, if you're not buying parts from Sunset Imports in Oregon you should check them out (providing your mechanic will take your parts or receive them if you can order them).

BTW, nice looking car!!! Be sure to drive it like you stole it each and every time you take it out. The new motor--after the break in period--should be taken to near-redline regularly. This gets oil into all the nooks and crannies and some studies have shown that if you wind up a Porsche motor regularly, it will be less problematic although it might shorten the motor's life a bit. It's a good trade off since you'll have a brand new motor.

... and I hope and pray my motor blows up on me soon. Very soon. I will be handing the keys to my friend who is anxious to put an LS1 in it!!!!
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Old 06-13-2017, 08:36 AM   #3
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Thanks for the welcome. I have told them to go ahead with the new engine mount while they're in, and I suggested replacing the clutch while everything's apart. I expect we'll end up doing that, but my shop is one of the good ones who want to actually see it -- could be 6 months old for all I know.

I will do the Porsche mount, as I value comfort. The car had some clunking (more of a clattering) going over bumps, which I figure is either the mount or a control arm. I've never had a car this old that didn't show a marked improvement with new motor mounts, so if it turns out not to fix the noise, I'll know to get into the suspension.

I see the numbers in your signature, and I'll probably end up right there with you. Although I don't think these cars are going to have a rise in value anytime soon, I do think that good ones from this vintage are about done depreciating. At least the money isn't just leaking out of them while they're parked in our garages.
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Old 06-13-2017, 11:03 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum.

Why did you decide on a Vertex engine over some of the other options out there? Be curious what you think of the motor once it get to drive it again.

Good luck!
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:13 PM   #5
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I chose Vertex because they had a complete product, and they seem to know their stuff. I won't lie, part of what motivated the choice was price. They were substantially cheaper than some other rebuilders. Although I don't want to be pennywise and pound foolish, I felt like they did a thorough job and offered a good warranty (1 year, no limit on miles). My car was a blast to drive on its original engine, so I didn't need to look for more power. I looked into RND, which looked like a high-quality option, but at more than twice the price of the Vertex engine. There were a couple of other options which looked similar to Vertex (in price and scope of remanufacturing). Vertex was very responsive and extremely prompt in getting the ball rolling, arranging shipping and offering advice, so I didn't move on to the next place.

I hope I'll be able to report on how the car drives within a few days -- the engine was delivered this afternoon, and I understand the shop is getting to work.

If this turns out well, I hope it will help the next person who needs to make the decision. If it doesn't, I will find out how well Vertex stands behind its product.
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Old 06-13-2017, 12:28 PM   #6
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Thanks, Randall. I have told them to do the engine mount, as the car clatters over bumps. While that may turn out to be a suspension thing, I've never had a car this old that wasn't substantially improved by a new motor mount.

I also suggested going ahead with a clutch, as I do not know anything about the one other car (other than that it works very well). The shop is pretty conscientious, and they don't want me to pull the trigger on that until they can take a look at it -- could be 6 months old for all we know. Still, I'm generally inclined to make sure there's no reason to drop the engine or transmission for a long while.
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Old 06-13-2017, 01:54 PM   #7
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...and preparing me for the fact that any old Boxster could require a big infusion of cash anytime.
Well said. I just wanted to highlight this perfect insight for any future Boxster owners.

Better to be prepared than surprised!
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Old 06-13-2017, 02:14 PM   #8
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This sucks.
I'm sorry this happened to you or anyone else with a similar experience. These cars are so much fun. You gotta thing a cracked head MAY have been preventable (not by you).
At least this isn't another IMS horror story.

You will love this car! It's just too bad your first experience had to be worst case.

PS. I would have crapped my pants if it happened to me! I always have buyers remorse.
You could sell me a gold brick for a $2...I'd buy it and go home an convince myself I was an idiot for buying it!

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Old 06-13-2017, 02:23 PM   #9
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Welcome, and thanks for the story!
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Old 06-13-2017, 08:15 PM   #10
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Interesting

I hope this works out really well for you. I checked into the replacement and it does seem to be a lot of bang for your bucks....especially with the IMS solution already in place....following with interest

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Old 06-14-2017, 04:58 AM   #11
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Welcome and thank you for the thread. Very timely for me. Please keep us updated with your results. I'm a Wheeler Dealer wannabe and ran across a 997.1 with a broken engine. I checked into options and felt Vertex was the best option. Unfortunately I have to get my current 911 project sold before I could move to this one and I think the 997.1 has been sold. But I'd like to know how your experience goes in case I come across another project of this type.
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Old 06-14-2017, 08:47 AM   #12
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For what its worth...I bought a 2001 boxster in feb with a blown engine for $2500 and then an engine for $2k thinking I would walk away with a car for less than $5K. 4 engines later (a couple of used engines were no good) I opted for a rebuilt and the car us now running. The car is probably worth about $8K but my total cost for the project is over $20K. At least it has a new engine and it is a fun little car...and my son now knows how to drive manual...dumb project in the end thinking I could get the car cheap. Live and learn.
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Welcome and thank you for the thread. Very timely for me. Please keep us updated with your results. I'm a Wheeler Dealer wannabe and ran across a 997.1 with a broken engine. I checked into options and felt Vertex was the best option. Unfortunately I have to get my current 911 project sold before I could move to this one and I think the 997.1 has been sold. But I'd like to know how your experience goes in case I come across another project of this type.
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Old 06-14-2017, 09:03 AM   #13
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For what its worth...I bought a 2001 boxster in feb with a blown engine for $2500 and then an engine for $2k thinking I would walk away with a car for less than $5K. 4 engines later (a couple of used engines were no good) I opted for a rebuilt and the car us now running. The car is probably worth about $8K but my total cost for the project is over $20K. At least it has a new engine and it is a fun little car...and my son now knows how to drive manual...dumb project in the end thinking I could get the car cheap. Live and learn.
Did you use a Vertex rebuild? That's what I'm interested in learning about them.
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Old 06-15-2017, 10:20 PM   #14
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nope, sorry...
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Did you use a Vertex rebuild? That's what I'm interested in learning about them.
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Old 07-12-2017, 01:27 PM   #15
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A little update. The shop here had a delay getting started on the car, so they didn't get the new engine in until late June. Unfortunately, it made a loud noise. My shop here was great, already having contacted Vertex and made arrangements by the time I knew about the issue.

Vertex was quick to get the ball rolling on making it right -- they had the car picked up in SC and hauled to FL, so they could diagnose and repair or replace the engine. They picked the car up last Thursday and returned it today. My shop advises that it's up and running, but they are finishing some of the peripheral stuff and final reassembly. They want to spend some time driving the car tomorrow to make sure everything's dialed in and nothing's dripping, but I should have the car back by Friday.

In a perfect world, the first engine would have worked and I'd be a couple of weeks into enjoying the repaired car. That said, both my shop here and Vertex were great at moving quickly to get the unexpected issue taken care of (on Vertex's dime, for two-way transportation and correction of the engine issue). While it's a shame the first time was a no-go, I'm satisfied with them backing up their product.

Eager to get the car back (if all is well and it's done by Friday, I'll get to take it on a nice 150 mile road trip to see some family this weekend). Fingers crossed, and I'll report some impressions when I have the key again.

BTW, they went ahead and replaced all the coolant lines (original and soft, likely from the intermix); the clutch; the CV axles (the boots were torn); and all the original ignition coils. I hope this means I'm set for a while, except for going through the suspension at some point.
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Old 07-12-2017, 01:47 PM   #16
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Hope you get to enjoy your car this weekend!

Do you know if the Vertex motor was repaired or replace when Vertex had the car?
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:31 PM   #17
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I don't know. They told me it was a timing issue and that one bank of cylinders wasn't 'working.' I kind of assume they swapped out the engine, since they only had the car for a day before sending it back up.
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Old 07-13-2017, 05:32 AM   #18
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vertex motor and shop in columbia

I am wondering who you are using for your shop in Columbia? I live down in Bluffton and we have the the Porsche shop and that's it . if you would be willing to share who your shop is , name location etc( and how reasonable they are for labor) that would be great. - nothing pressing on my 97 base boxster but id like to upgrade suspension at some point and eventually will do the ISM when it gets time - not necessary and there is no sign of an issue with by original double row ims. Thanks.

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Old 07-13-2017, 06:12 AM   #19
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Sure, Phil. It's Complete Car Care on Gervais Street, just a few blocks from the Capitol here. Note that there is, just a block or two away on the same street, "Firestone Complete Car Care." Not the same place at all.

CCC is an interesting one. On first glance, it looks like a regular tire-and-lube place, and the bulk of the cars you see on their lifts are American, Japanese everyday kind of cars. If you pass there every day (as I have for years), though, you notice that they are rarely without at least one or tow Porsches hanging around. For that reason (and the fact that they are three blocks from the office I had at the time), I started taking my string of 90s and early 00s Mercedes to them several years ago. They were always excellent, knowledgeable and reasonably priced.

When I got the Boxster, that was why I approached them (even though my office is now a very hot 6-block walk back from there). Some of the mechanics there have raced Boxsters, and they're knowledgeable, enthusiastic and practical.

I can't quote for you their rate; I took a very boring 3-year break with a late-model Lexus and haven't had occasion to visit them during that time. I'll be getting a nice big bill from them in the next day or two, though, and I'm glad to shed some light at that point. I do know that I've always found their tabs to be cheaper than the independent Mercedes-centric shop I had used before finding them.

This was more of an answer than you were looking for, but if you look them up on street view, you may think I'm crazy (if that was taken on a day that everything on the lift was a Chrysler minivan, Civic or Camry).

This will be by far the biggest job they've ever done for me, but I have never had a bad experience (including this one, at least so far).

Do note that they are very busy most of the time, and I have rarely been able to get a car in and out of there in a day (even for minor things, like motor mounts). It's never been a problem since I'm nearby, but you might want to call ahead and make sure they have arrangements in place if you don't want to spend a night in Columbia.
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:02 AM   #20
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Well if your going full boat I think you might be interested at some point in swapping the mesh factory wheels with a nice set of BBS mesh wheels with the sportier gun metal finish to compliment the body color. Keeps the factory look but makes the car look much more premium.


Here's a nice BBS wheel upgrade on a black Boxster


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