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Porsche Boxster (986): Buying guide and review (1996-2004)

Porsche Boxster (986): Buying guide and review (1996-2004) Classic and Performance Car
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In the early ‘90s, Porsche was in a very difficult position. Profits were falling, and its best-selling car, the 911, could trace its roots back to a 1960s. It needed to act fast, and introduce a new range of products to revitalise the brand and bring it back to profitability.
 
Enter the Porsche Boxster, a mid-engined two seater sports car based in part on the upcoming water cooled 996 platform. Initial reception was lukewarm, with critics bemoaning the ‘fried egg’ headlight treatment and relative lack of power from its 2.5-litre engine. As with any major shift, it also took a while for the public to warm to the Boxster. A number of running changes and more powerful engines helped to turn the 986 model a huge seller, which along with the water-cooled 996 helped to secure Porsche’s future.
 
Today the Boxster is an integral part of Porsches range and the original version is still a cracking drive and exceptional bargain.
 

Which Boxster to buy?

 
Porsche has always had a policy of incrementally improving its cars throughout the production lifecycle. In the case of the first Boxster, some changes were made to address mechanical issues while others were improvements to keep the cars current with rivals’ offerings. 
 
The original 986 Boxster was launched in 1996, sharing architecture with the first water-cooled 911 and helping save Porsche in the process. Some felt it lacked the visual punch of the concept version that wowed crowds at Detroit in 1992. When it finally went into production, it lacked dynamic punch too, although that original 201bhp 2.5-litre engine was supplanted by a 217bhp 2.7 in 2000, and joined by a 250bhp 3.2-litre Boxster S. The enthusiast’s model had arrived. 
 
In 2003, outputs went up to 225 and 258bhp, and a facelift saw some minor changes to the styling – the most notable of which was the addition of clear front light units and glass rear screens. 
 
The first generation water cooled boxer engines in the Boxster and 911 have developed a reputation for leaking Rear Main Seals and IMS bearing failures. While the issue is not uncommon, it’s nowhere near as prevalent as you might think. Many specialists offer strengthened replacement parts, and generally a thorough check of the car in these vulnerable areas should be carried out for peace of mind. 
 
Earliest 2.5-litre cars can be temptingly cheap, but unless they are in perfect condition there are far more desirable models to be had. The 2.7-litre cars have enough power to put a smile on your face, but the 3.2-litre is the real performance choice. 
 
Tiptronic automatic gearboxes were offered on all models, and while they are generally less desirable, shouldn’t be dismissed if you plan on using the car regularly around town. A 50th Anniversary 550 Spyder was released in 2004 and with only 1953 produced is the rarest (and now-sought-after) of the Boxster models.
 
If you are prepared to pay good money, it’s worth searching for well looked after car from the last few years of production, preferably owned by an enthusiast. Thanks to the numerous running changes and updated exterior looks, these are by far the best cars to live with. Standard specifications were generally very basic while optional extras were not cheap, so finding a well-specced car is not always easy.
 

Performance and specs

 
2004 Porsche Boxster S
Engine 3179cc 24valve DOHC H6 
Power 256bhp @ 6200 rpm 
Torque 229lb ft @ 4600rpm
Top speed 164mph 
0-60mph 5.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 26.9 mpg 
Insurance group 46
Gearbox six-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2415mm
Length 4320mm
Width 1780mm
Height 1780mm
Weight 1320kg
 

Common problems

 
• Parts are available from Porsche as well as numerous specialists who stock a whole host of replacement items for the entire range of Boxsters.
 
• RMS rear seal leaks and IMS bearing failures are very well documented, and any Porsche specialist should be able to diagnose these issues for you. While early cars have a higher rate of failure than face-lifted models, by now most have had upgraded replacement parts fitted, and if not there are a number of specialists who will carry out this work. The final price can be negotiated down on whether this work has been done or not.
 
• A leaking RMS seal can be replaced when the clutch needs doing next, as the gearbox has to be removed to get to the seal. 
 
• The IMS Bearing was upgraded a number of times during production however they are a weak point in the design and some specialists have developed replacements that last a lot longer than the original items.
 
• Cracked cylinder liners affected some of the earlier cars but a running modification in 2000 resolved this issue. 
 
• Coolant expansion tanks can crack leaking water into the boot. Coolant radiators and the air-con condenser are situated in the front of the car and can get blocked by leaves and road debris.
 
• Gearboxes are robust and should change gears smoothly; six-speed ‘boxes can jump out of second gear, which points to it needing an expensive rebuild.
 
• The suspension does not have any major issues, other than lower arm bushes and rose joints on the trailing arms wearing out. Check that the car tracks straight and no creaking noises emanate when turning.
 
• Rust is not a common issue however blocked drainage channels may allow water to pool behind the seats and some cars can develop rust bubbles around the arches over time. The nose and flanks are prone to road rash, so poor paintwork can be a good bargaining point.
 
• Interior trim got stronger with successive facelifts. Of early cars, only the best-kept avoid scruffiness inside. Make sure the roof mechanism and electrical fixtures work.
 

Model history

 
1996: Porsche Boxster launched with 201bhp 2.5-litre six-cylinder engine
2000: Base engine size increased to 2.7-litres, with power up to 217bhp. Boxster S introduced with 3.2-litre 250bhp engine and standard six-speed gearbox
2001: Optional PSM anti-skid system introduced
2003: Facelift carried out including glass window replacing rear plastic item, front indicator units were made translucent and new wheel and colour options were introduced. Vario-Ram intake system increases engine outputs incrementally with 2.7-litre up 11bhp and 3.2-litre up by 8bhp
2004: Special edition 550 Spyder released with 1953 cars built. Last Boxster rolls off the production line with over 160,000 cars built 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.porscheclubgb.com
• 986forum.com/forums
• www.boxsterregister.org
 

Summary and prices


For a while it’s been possible to get into a Boxster for £6000 and even less. The money will buy you an enjoyable drive, but you’ll be talking a ratty high-miles 986. Autos are less desirable than manuals. Better to weigh in around £9000 for a smart, serviced, low-mileage late-model manual 3.2S. And we can’t imagine those getting much cheaper.
At the top end are the £15k minters, but at this money it’s really worth considering a later 987 Boxster, especially with the option of PDK for those seeking two pedal models. For a really special Boxster, the 550 Spyder special edition is difficult to beat, but with low mileage cars commanding upwards of £30k, you really have to want one to justify paying the premium. 
 
The first generation Boxster is a great sports car that can double as a weekend toy and daily transport if required. With prices not likely to get much lower, now might just be the time to invest in one of these great sports cars.
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Last updated: 28th Feb 2017
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8995 61850 GBP
  • Porsche Boxster

    £13,950 £13,950

    Variant name:Roadster ,Variant: 2.7 2dr Porsche Boxster 2.7 2dr

    • Year: -1
    • Mileage: 17387 mi
    • Engine size: 2.7
    For sale
    Dick Lovett-Porsche Centre - Swindon
    01793 615 888 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 2008 Porsche Boxster S 3.4 Tiptronic

    POA POA

    Basalt Black Metallic, Black leather interior, Heated seats, Wind deflector, 18in Lobster Claw alloys, Climate control, Park Assist, Electric Windows Porsche Security system, Full service history, Computer, Porsche In-Car Entertainment, Call for more details, HPI clear…..6 MONTH IN-HOUSE PARTS & LABOUR WARRANTY INCLUDED, CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED, VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT PLEASE. FULL SERVICING FACILITIES FOR YOUR PORSCHE – CALL US ON 01483 799245

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 101000 mi
    For sale
  • 1999 Porsche Boxster 3.2S Manual

    POA POA

    Zenith blue metallic, Black leather interior, Silver dials, 17in 5-spoke alloys, Wind deflector, CDR22 Cd/Radio, Private plate – J55XYX – included, Electric roof, Original service book (with sticker) showing services at:11, 22, 37, 46, 60, 67, 74, 86, 89, 93, 104, 111, 112k miles. Eporsch has carried out the most recent service and all aspects of servicing are up to date. There is also a file of maintenance receipts and MOTs. Equipment includes: Climate control, electric seats, electric convertible roof, electric mirrors & windows, PAS, Porsche Security system, 2 keys, This vehicle is HPI clear, The owner’s handbook and other documents are present in the original Porsche leather folder…. 6 MONTH IN-HOUSE PARTS & LABOUR WARRANTY INCLUDED, CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED, VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT PLEASE. ASK US ABOUT SERVICING YOUR PORSCHE AT EPORSCH. CALL 01483 799245

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 112000 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £31,999 £31,999

    Variant name:24V PDK ,Derivative:981 ,Variant: 2.7 24V PDK 2 DR CONVERTIBLE, DUAL CLUTCH TRANSMISSION PDK) Incl AUTO START/STOP FUNCTION, MOBILE PHONE PREPARATION WITH BLUETOOTH INTERFACE, PARK ASSIST - REAR, WIND DEFLECTOR, TOP TINT WINDSCREEN, FLOOR MATS MATCHING INTERIOR TRIM, AIR CO THIS CAR HAS BEEN HAND PICKED BY STEBBINGS, FULLY VALETED TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD! IT COMES SUPPLIED WITH UPTO DATE SERVICE HISTORY , HPI CHECKED AND CLEAR. PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO VIEW OVER 500 MORE VEHICLES! LOW RATE FINANCE AND PART EXCHANGE AVAILABLE. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained, however, errors may occur. Do not rely entirely on this information but confirm with us about items which may affect your decision to purchase.

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 13200 mi
    • Engine size: 2.7
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster 2.7 24V PDK 981 Convertible

    £36,950 £36,950

    Black Leather, Extended leather package, electric memory sports seats (14-way), heated seats, automatic climate control, 20in Carrera Classic alloys, Dynamic Engine Mounts, PDK transmission, Bluetooth Telephone module, DAB Radio, Porsche sound package plus, Park Assist front & rear, Sport chrono package, PASM and traction control, electric windows, electric heated mirrors with memory, remote central locking and alarm, ABS, front and side airbags, auto-dim rear view mirror, Rain sensor, Porsche Design sports steering wheel with padde-shift, electric adjustable column, trip computer, LED Daytime Running Lights, Dynamic Bi-Xenon headlamps, headlight cleaning system, top-tint windscreen, wind deflector, instrument dials in black, Start/Stop function, one private owner from new, full Porsche service history, Porsche VTS Tracking system

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 20000 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster "S" 3.4

    £36,000 £36,000

    (13 - 2013) 315bhp 29,000 miles Dark blue with grey leather 3.4 litre "S" model 2 wheel drive 6 speed manual gearbox Climate control Porsche Stability Management (PSM) Active suspension (PASM) Satellite Navigation (PCM 3) Bluetooth Bose sound upgrade Aux & Usb & Jukebox Sports chrono Multifunction steering wheel Heated seats Electric memory seats Wind deflector Front and rear parking sensors Litronic headlights 20 inch wheels

    • Mileage: 29000 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £8,995 £8,995

    Service History, Full Leather, Alarm, Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Sports Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Air Bag, Colour Coded Body, Premium Cloth soft top, Electric Windows, CD Player, Radio, Low Mileage Beautifully pampered example with very low mileage of 44,000 miles. Stored through the winter months under cover - and only driven in the spring and summer when the English weather allows for 'top down' motoring. Regularly maintained and serviced. No body damage. Fitted Car Cover included in the price. Good tyres all round. It is highly recommended to view this vehicle to appreciate how lovely it really is. Porsche Sat Nav fitted. Also has glass rear window and a heavy duty Bosch Battery.

    • Mileage: 44000 mi
    • Engine size: 2700
    For sale
  • PORSCHE BOXSTER 2.7 MANUAL 2005 DUE IN

    POA POA

    arctic silver metallic, black electric hood, black leather interior, multifunctional leather steering wheel, heated seats, bose sound upgrade, rear park assist, Porsche stability management, on board digital computer, xenon lights with headlight wash, sat. nav. cd autochanger, 19inch five spoke alloys, full service history

    • Year: 2005
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £55,990 £55,990

    Parking Sensors, Bose, Heated Seats, Cruise Control Porsche Boxster S 3.4 Manual registered March 2016 finished in Rhodium Silver Metallic with Black Leather interior; £9k of Factory Options: Black Convertible Top; Roll-over Bar with Exterior Colour Paint Finish; ParkAssist in Front and Rear; Porsche Active Suspension Management; 20 Inch Carrera S Wheels; Full Colour Centre Caps; Seat Heating; Cruise Control; Sports Seats Plus 2 Way Electric; Porsche Crest on Headrests; Mobile Phone Preparation; BOSE Surround system; Audio System CDR Plus including Sound Package Plus. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 6200 mi
    • Engine size: 3436
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster S - PDK Gearbox |

    £47,850 £47,850

    Specification MAKE Porsche MODEL (981) Boxster S - PDK Gearbox COLOUR Guards Red with Black Hide Leather Interior YEAR 2014/64 MILEAGE 7200 DESCRIPTION We are delighted to be able to offer for sale this exceptional 981 Porsche Boxster S, equipped with the PDK Gearbox. Finished in Guards Red with Black Interior Hide. STANDARD EQUIPMENT Anti Locking Brakes, Driver and Passenger Airbags, Electric Central Locking with Alarm/Immobiliser, Anti Dazzle Interior Mirror, Headlight Washer System, Sports Seats Plus, Without Rear Wiper, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Tilt Sensor, LED Daytime Driving Lights, Start/Stop Function, Power Steering, Vehicle Tracking Preparation, Universal Multimedia Interface, Windscreen with Top Tint. OPTIONAL EXTRAS Interior Leather Package, PDK Transmission, Sport Chrono Package Plus, Sports Exhaust System, BOSE Sound Package, 20" Carrera S Wheels, Adjustable Seat Heating, Cruise Control, Damper Control, Roll Over Bar in Aluminium Look, Electronic Air Conditioning, Bi-Xenon Headlights with Dynamic Cornering Light, Park Assist Front & Rear, Sports Steering Wheel with Paddles, ISOFIX on Passenger Side, 2 Way Electric Sports Plus Seats, Porsche Communication Manage

    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster 24V S

    £18,995 £18,995

    About this Porsche Boxster 24V S First registered March 2008 (08 Reg) this Boxster S Manual is equipped with the 3.4 litre engine and is presented in the ever popular combination of Basalt Black with Black Leather. Options on this car include: 19 Inch Carrera Classic Wheels, Top Tinted Windscreen, Park Assist, Automatic Climate Control, Bose Sound System, PCM with Navigation, PSM, Heated Seats and Cruise Control. Service History supported by Invoices.

    • Mileage: 35000 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £34,990 £34,990

    Porsche Boxster S 3.4 Manual registered November 2012 finished in Lime Gold Metallic with Two-Tone Leather Interior, PCM Including Navigation Module, Sound Package Plus, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Sport Mode, 20-Inch Carrera Classic Alloys with Coloured Porsche Crests, Power Steering Plus, Heated Electric Seats with Driver Memory and Lumbar Support, Two-Zone Climate Control, Automatic Lights and Wipers, Folding Electric Mirrors, Front and Rear Park Distance Control.Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 53000 mi
    • Engine size: 3436
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £27,990 £27,990

    Heated Seats, Electric Seats, Bluetooth, Xenon Headlamps, Parking Sensors, Climate Control, Main dealer service history Porsche Boxster 24V 3.4 S PDK Automatic Registered September 2011 finished in Gloss Carrera White with Full Black Leather interior, Gloss White Rear Centre Console and PDK Gear Selector Surround, 19 Inch Turbo II Alloys, Sport Chrono Package Plus, PCM with Extended Navigation Module, Mobile Phone Prep, Universal Audio Interface, Heated Seats, Rear Parking Sensors, Automatic Climate Control, Sound Package Plus, Black Leather Sports Seats, PDK 3-Spoke Sports Steering Wheel with Shift Paddles, Wind Deflector, Porsche Service History at Porsche Newcastle on 12/11/13 at 12,676; Fresh MAJOR Service at Porsche Portsmouth on 06/01/17 at 25,508 including Spark Plugs, Air Filter and Brake Fluid, New Rear Discs, Pads and Tyres. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome.

    • Mileage: 29600 mi
    • Engine size: 3436
    For sale
  • 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder

    POA POA

    20" Boxster Spyder Light Alloys Painted In Platinum Satin Including Wheel Centres With Full-Colour Porsche Crest, Porsche Communication Management (PCM) Including Navigation Module & Universal Audio Interface, Mobile Phone Preparation Bluetooth, Online Services, Speed Limit Display (Traffic Sign Recognition), Sound Package Plus, 18 Way Electrically Adjustable Adaptive Sports Seats Plus, Heated Seats, Leather Interior With Decorative Stitching In Contrasting Colour, Steering Wheel Rim & Gear Lever In Black Smooth Finish Leather, Door Pull Loops In Silver, Roll Over Bars Painted In White, Bi Xenon Headlights Including Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) In Black, Reversing Camera, Air Conditioning, Brushed Aluminium Interior Package, Aluminium Look Fuel Tank Cap, Aluminium Gear Lever, Brushed Aluminium Centre Console Trim, Net Type Wind Deflector, Light Design Package, 64 Litre Fuel Tank, Storage Net In Passenger Footwell, UK Supplied, Exceptional Example! Sport Chrono Package With SPORT & SPORT PLUS Button, Sport Chrono Timer On Centre Console, Sports Suspension With Lowering (0.78 inches), Sports Steering Wheel With Smaller Diameter & Steering Rim In Alcantara, SportDesign Exterior

    • Mileage: 250 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster ON SALE NOW

    £22,940 £22,940

    Porsche Boxster S PDK presented in Guards Red comes with a full Porsche history and the following specification; Black leather, three spoke leather multi-function steering wheel, instrument dials in white, heated seats, automatic climate control, Porsche Communication Module (PCM2) with navigation, telephone module, wind deflector, top tint on windscreen and 19" Carrera S alloy wheels with crested centre caps. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. We are a respected Porsche specialist with full Porsche workshop facilities. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Convertible Transmission: Automatic Mileage: 58,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2009 (09) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 3.4 Finished in: Guards Red

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 58000 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche BOXSTER S

    £44,989 £44,989

    One Owner. PCM 3, Touch Screen Sat Nav, Start / Stop Function, Cruise control, Heated Sports Seats, Universal Audio Interface, Bose Sound, Bi-Xenon Headlamps, LED Daytime Lights, Park Distance Control, Silver Dials, Power Hood, Tyre Pressure Monitor, Top Tint Screen and 19" Boxster S Alloys. Balance Of Manufacturers Warranty Until March 18. Vat Qualifying. We Can Supply Vat Free for Export Admin Fee Applies. www.imperials.co.uk ------ Please call us to Confirm which of our 3 Essex Showrooms your desired vehicle is located at before travelling to see us, Everyone of Our Cars Goes Through Our In House Work Shop Prior to Sale by Our Fully Qualified and Experienced Technicians - Buy with Confidence, For up to 20 images of this vehicle and an Instant Finance Quote please view www.imperials.co.uk, For Out of Office Hours Enquiries please call Tony 07956 564440 and he will be happy to help, We are also good buyers of all prestige, Sports and 4x4 vehicles so why not give us a call for a price on yours, Please Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter, Thank You, www.imperials.co.uk

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 18000 mi
    For sale
  • 2010 Porsche Boxster 2.9 987 Convertible

    £13,600 £13,600

    Next MOT due 04/09/2017, Last serviced on 30/12/2015, Full service history, Excellent bodywork, Navy Full leather interior - Excellent Condition, Tyre condition Excellent, SILVER, MAIN FEATURES: GEN 2 BOXSTER - 6 SPEED MANUAL - BLUETOOTH - FULL LEATHER - HEATED SEATS - CLIMATE AIR CON, This great value GEN 2 Porsche Boxster 2.9, Finished in Arctic silver with a full dark blue leather interior and roof, Drivers information screen with Bluetooth phone connection, Rear parking sensors, Radio / CD / AUX connection, Climate control air conditioning, Heated seats, Alloy wheels with excellent tyres. This Gen II Boxster is presented in exceptional condition and will not fail to impress even the most fastidious of buyers.PHOTOS ALL RECENTLY TAKEN 3 owners, Next MOT due 23/06/2017, Full service history, Silver.

    • Mileage: 7000 mi
    • Engine size: 2893
    For sale
  • 987 Boxster Spyder Convertible

    £54,900 £54,900

    Features 987 Boxster Spyder Originally Supplied By Porsche Centre Swindon First Registered During May 2011 Full Documented Official Porsche Service History Solid Black Black Leather & Alcantara Interior Carbon Folding Bucket Seats 6 Speed Manual Transmission Sports Chrono Package PSE Porsche Switchable Sports Exhaust Xenon Plus Dynamic Cornering Lights Mobile Phone Preparation (Bluetooth) Boxster Spyder 19" Alloy Wheels (Silver) Park Assistance Auto Air Conditioning Wind Deflector CD Radio (Porsche CDR 30) Guards Red Instrument Dials on board computer Rear Section Of Centre Console Painted (Solid Black) Roll Over Bars In Exterior Colour Sound Package Plus Top Tinted Windscreen Universal Multimedia Interface (I-Pod Connectivity). Registered: 2011 (11) Owners: 3 Miles: 5,882 Colour: Solid Black Interior: Black Leather / Alcantara BHP: 320 Print Details Enquire Part Exchange

    For sale
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