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Old 01-16-2020, 11:21 PM   #1
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Buying driveable Boxster vs Buying not so driveable boxster

Hi guys, second thread

In looking to expand possible options when purchasing a Boxster. I have officially moved on from my research on the Boxster and the required maintenance after realizing that this car is still fantastic despite some not so perfect production runs. This is now my dream car and will work to make this happen no matter what it takes

There's the obvious simple way, buying a functioning Boxster. It drives off the lot, no problems, just keep tabs on the maintenance schedule, and enjoy for as long as you and it lives.



The less simple way would be along the lines of buying a Boxster that very clearly needs some love. Almost a project car. Example, a Boxster that has seen better days interior and exterior wise, unfortunately is an automatic, but inexpensive.

I want to confirm that Inexpensive does = $2500 or so, right?

Being inexpensive, this leaves room for upgrades and/or a swap. Reading the Pelican Parts guide, it seems that you should be able to swap in the Boxster S Engine from a similar year quite easily and painless. But it is not mentioned if you can swap the matching 6 speed manual transmission in too along with it (very key to me).

So can this be done? Can I swap a Boxster S Engine and Manual Tranmission into a standard Boxster with minimal pain and custom fabrication? I have access to a cnc mill to make custom parts if extremely required I would just hope minimal pain means this isn't required.

What is recommended for someone who doesn't have a lot of experience under the hood? Albeit access to just about anything needed to perform this automobile surgery. I have access to a lift, plenty of tools, hopefully some disposable income from getting a cheaper Boxster etc.

What is your recommendation to achieve the best possible performing, working Boxster for the money (I'd say a good estimate is $6000 total that I'd like to spend) with someone that has limited knowledge by himself, but access to plenty of tools, time, and help (you guys! ).

Thoughts, Comments, Jokes, please do tell! Thanks!


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Old 01-17-2020, 04:52 AM   #2
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Swapping in a 6-spd trans is tougher (more expensive) than it sounds.
And take a look at what a used 3.2 or better will cost you.

Again, you'll be MIMES ahead buying the right car first.
I'm not one who thinks the car must be perfect, though. So for $6k, you should be able to find a solid "S" model with a 6-spd. Probably high mileage. Maybe a branded title? Uncertain maintenance history? Whatever. It won't be perfect.
But you'll be waaaay ahead compared to buying a base, with a Tip, and trying to make it an S with a manual.

YMMV, BPW

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Old 01-17-2020, 05:15 AM   #3
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There's a lot to unpack in your post. I'll give you my opinions at a high level and others can chime in with more details / technical data.

First off, it's generally a recipe for disaster for someone to buy a Porsche on a limited budget with the idea of owning a Porsche on the cheap. While the car has depreciated, parts still have the Porsche tax associated with them. In general, there are no cheap Porsches. Nice rollers (that only need engines) are usually $3-4K depending on year, condition, miles, options, etc. If you find one for $2500, chances are it needs more than just an engine swap. And you're talking about cars that are 20 yrs old, so generally it's going to need something replaced because of age. Bottom line is there are no cheap Porsches.

Porsches are not a 55 Chevy or a 67 Camaro that you can rip out whatever engine's in it and drop in an LS, connect a few wires, and blast off to your nearest C&C. Porsches have various electronic iterations, with each newer versions having more complicated electronics. Trying to put a newer engine into an older car will not work unless you commit to a massive rewiring project. I mention this because you want to put a 3.2 engine into a base Box. This means you'll need to buy at least a 2000 base because that was the 1st yr of the S. 97-99 will have different electronics.

I'm not saying it's impossible to do what you want to do, but you're not going to do it on the cheap. For $8500 you could probably find an S that needs some of the basic fixes (window regulators, old suspension, AOS, etc) that would be great for a shade tree mechanic to work on.

I'll leave you with this: it's not rocket science but it's not simple math either. If you're looking to get into Porsche ownership on the cheap, just find one that needs some basic maintenance and buy it. If you're looking for a project to keep you out of the bar for a few yrs, knock yourself out.
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:17 AM   #4
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It's an idea that you shouldn't even entertain. Buy a S and be done with it. Even if you got a base boxster for free I wouldn't even recommend it.
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:18 AM   #5
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It is said that a cheap Porsche can be a lot more expensive than a well sorted one. If you have never had hands on one and taken it apart to see what makes it tick (usually a stuck lifter, but could be a lot worse), either buy one at market price with a good PPI, or buy one at a price that you will be okay if you part it out and scrap it. Like investing in the stock market, where you should put your money depends a lot on your risk tolerance.

I have bought many 986 Boxsters; fixed them, parted them, sold them, and kept them. A six speed transmission may be swapped into a five speed car, but you'd be better off just finding the right six speed car to begin with. The main complication is the axles being different, but other things need to be addressed too such as shift linkage, and clutch slave. An auto to manual swap is also technically possible, but way more trouble and expense than buying the right car to start with.



The last two I bought were the least expensive: A 2001 with a bad engine for $1,600 and a high mile 1997 for $2,500 with a hardtop. I put a failing engine in the $1,600 and had some fun with it. The parts I've pulled off of it are worth well more than I paid. The $2,500 car needs some work to make it fully functional and reliable, but it should be a good daily driver for what (to me) will be about $3,000 invested. Neither of these would have made any sense if I didn't already have lots of parts saved up and basic knowledge of how to work on THESE cars.



I'm as happy working on a Boxster as driving it. If you feel the same and have money to gamble with, go ahead and take some risk. There are a lot worse ways to lose money and waste time. If nothing else, buying a cheap Porsche can be a great education. Just be aware that it may not go well. One guy on the GRM forum bought a beautiful but risky car and now has to make a tough choice. Rebuilds are not cheap on these cars. When an engine goes, there are often no good options.
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Old 01-17-2020, 06:23 AM   #6
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If I was a young buck coming into this, (I was an arrogant kid..... so lets assume the worst here, Haha) I'd be thinking "all my buds talk about how easy swaps are.... this forum must be full of fuddy-duddies (or today's equivalent) who aren't adventuresome."
And I'd be wrong.

There are lots of very experienced builders here. And several of us are experienced swappers. (I was the guy who could build ANYTHING at the racetrack with a die grinder and a sawzall).

What im saying is: it's wise to check everything you learn on the internet.... even what we're telling you. But if you check, you'll find that all the advice we're giving you is right on the money.

Now...... having said all of that..... many times in my life, including with this 986, I've come to a place where I've dumped enough money into it, I realize I could've rather had something much, much nicer. But that's when I tell myself i would've missed the journey. And in my youth, it was much easier to buy a $1500 car and pour $3000 into it, $200 at a time for a couple of years, than it was to save $4500 and get a nicer car. So factor that too. But I've seen MANY projects start like that and then stall..... and get dumped..... because it quit being fun having a money pit they couldn't drive.

So take our advice: buy the right car first. I mean, at least with the right components. If you buy a high mileage S, with worn out suspension, then it's an opportunity to upgrade the suspension. If you buy one with a bad clutch, you'll get it for a bargain and you can do IMS while you're there.

You feel what we're suggesting, here?

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Old 01-17-2020, 06:52 AM   #7
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Okay, thanks for the input guys!

Exactly what I needed.
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Old 01-17-2020, 07:38 AM   #8
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Sorry, just want to confirm, to make sure I have no further questions.

You guys are saying that buying cheap that needs a lot of help usually needs more help and ends up costing more than just buying a car that didnít need as much help from the beginning.

So we are all in agreement that swapping is difficult and not recommended.

What about engine replacement? Is this same level of difficulty or much more manageable? Etc: Boxster S that had itís engine blow up cause of IMSB.

Obviously that Boxster will be much cheaper than a running one, would it be more manageable to just hop in another, Boxster S engine, not swapping a different one in?

Thank you guys.
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Old 01-17-2020, 08:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
... You guys are saying that buying cheap that needs a lot of help usually needs more help and ends up costing more than just buying a car that didn’t need as much help from the beginning.

So we are all in agreement that swapping is difficult and not recommended.
In most cases, Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russdawg1 View Post
What about engine replacement? Is this same level of difficulty or much more manageable? Etc: Boxster S that had it’s engine blow up cause of IMSB.

Obviously that Boxster will be much cheaper than a running one, would it be more manageable to just hop in another, Boxster S engine, not swapping a different one in? ...
Scattered across the threads in this forum, you will find the stories of sad and anguished people who had a 3.2L engine fail and looked at what had to be done to swap in another to get it back on the road again. They either ended up spending more than the value of their rebuilt car to get it fixed, or sold the car at a great loss as a 'roller'.

Buying a 'rebuilt' 3.2L engine will cost more than your whole budget. Buying a used 3.2L engine will cost most of your whole budget and if you install it yourself, it will void any chance of a warranty. Buying a wrecked Boxster S (from an insurance auction) to pull an unknown quality engine from will probably cost at least $3,500. Then you could find out the engine has a cracked head. Lots of little expenses can add up even when just replacing with the same type engine. Little mistakes and lack of knowledge can turn into big problems along the way.


A Base model Boxster can be just as much fun (if you ask people who own both) and engine replacements are a lot less expensive. You may want to try one out unless you have a need for the 3.2.

Want to buy a bargain that can be worked on? Some problems lower the value but are DIY friendly:
  • Suspension parts replacement.
  • Coolant tank, AOS
  • Window operation and convertible top problems.
  • Brakes.
  • Minor flood damage. (I probably shouldn't have mentioned this one)
  • Cosmetics - headlights, minor dents, paint issues (if you can paint).
  • Interior parts - seats, carpet,etc.. .
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:00 AM   #10
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9 years on the forum I learned these basics to hold true. There is no such thing as a good deal on a Porsche....Cheap to buy ,expensive to own....It helps if you can wrench. Averages out to about 2000 a year maintenance. Forum is a must have for support of owner for knowledge that helps in repairs and sanity. PPI . Think about cost and time it takes to keep it looking good....Not a car wash car. Good luck. oh IMS change when you do the clutch and Drive it like you stole it. Woody nailed it Buy the S
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:22 AM   #11
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Thank you again guys. I see myself being very happy with the base Boxster, no need for the S model.

I was just making sure that I wasnít shooting myself in the foot and/or limiting my options by only looking at drivable, base model boxsters.

Now, the hunt!
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:27 AM   #12
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All base owners say they are happy with it and it is all they need but I think they wish....I should have got the S ! After all more is better here in America. lol
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Old 01-17-2020, 09:56 AM   #13
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Just so you hear both sides Russ, I don't think Woody meant buy an S over a Base simply because one is better than the other. i think he meant just don't start what you are talking about doing as the time, cost and effort are simply not worth it.

Secondly, trust me, you will be more than satisfied with a base. I've experienced both and it boils down to this. If it's a DD or weekend car, go base. The 5 speed is better suited to in town and around town traffic and the speed limits restrict you anyway. If you're going to track the car, go S for a little (and I mean little) more power. Those who own a base definitely don't pine for an S. The 0-60 difference between the 2.7 and 3.2 is ONLY 0.7 sec's!

Lastly, I would say this and it's been said on this forum many times, regardless of model, buy the best condition car you can find...period. The difference between the two is miniscule and you will be far happier doing more driving and less wrenching unless wrenching is just your bag. Cheers and happy hunting...
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Old 01-17-2020, 10:01 AM   #14
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9 years on the forum I learned these basics to hold true. There is no such thing as a good deal on a Porsche....Cheap to buy ,expensive to own....It helps if you can wrench. Averages out to about 2000 a year maintenance.
What a load of crap! Are your eyes brown?
I’ve owned mine for a decade and have spent around $2k total in that time, not per year.



Quote:
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All base owners say they are happy with it and it is all they need but I think they wish....I should have got the S ! After all more is better here in America. lol
You’re 0 for 2! Are you trying to beat out lkchris?

It’s humanly impossible to perceive the difference in acceleration time between the two. Any perceived difference is all in your head. I’ve driven lots of both, and can say that a well maintained base will outperform a poorly maintained “S” all day, especially with the 5 speed tranny.
Suck it.

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Old 01-17-2020, 10:01 AM   #15
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DELETED.

Just sayin'...........

TO

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Old 01-17-2020, 10:32 AM   #16
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My '04 base is my DD, and I agree with the above: the 5 speed is more convenient for what I use the car for. I don't miss the extra hp and torque because where the car absolutely shines is driving it hard on a good, twisty road. My base car's limits are far beyond my own.

Good luck with your search!
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Old 01-17-2020, 10:48 AM   #17
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What a load of crap! Are your eyes brown?
Iíve owned mine for a decade and have spent around $2k total in that time, not per year.
So, in that decade you went through at most 2 sets of brakes and tires? Have you factored in oil/coolant/brake fluid changes?

I guess maintenance costs could be zero if it's never driven.
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Old 01-17-2020, 11:31 AM   #18
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Man this is my new favorite forum.

You guys are a riot!
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Old 01-17-2020, 12:41 PM   #19
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Man this is my new favorite forum.

You guys are a riot!
Oh, you have no idea .....
Wait till piper and starter986 show up. That'll send some of the rest of us running for the hills. HAHA

fwiw: im not a Porsche guy. Never cared for them. I'm a track guy, having raced superbikes for many Years. But since being disappointed with a 911 in the '8o's, I've always simply dismissed porsches as poser cars.
Then I drove a 986 boxster. I drove it cuz I was looking for something euro, convert, manual trans, no black/ grey/ silver, etc, and under $10k so my wife wouldn't notice. Hehe.
I found a different car on the internet, shipped, taxed, etc. for under $8k. It's an '03 S with 147k. That was 2 years ago.

Anyway: two things have made me stay in the porche world: 1- the boxster really likes the racetrack. As track tools go, it ticks allot of boxes. And 2- the community. With a few exceptions, the Porsche community is much better than most enthusiast- car communities. My local pca chapter couldn't care less that I showed up in a $8k car..... they just love porsches.
Try showing up at a Ferrari event in a $50k 348..... see what happens. (Not the same experience)

So yes.... this should be your new favorite online home.

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Old 01-17-2020, 04:19 PM   #20
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Just so you hear both sides Russ, I don't think Woody meant buy an S over a Base simply because one is better than the other. i think he meant just don't start what you are talking about doing as the time, cost and effort are simply not worth it.
Bingo! I totally get wanting more power and braking ability but going the way the PO is talking about is not worth the time or money. If you eventually want an S, buy an S. Don't start with a base in hopes of turning it into an S.

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