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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 one 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. Early Boxsters came with a 201bhp 2.5-litre engine and basic trim options. 
The base engine was soon upgraded to 2.7-litres with an S model being made available with a 256bhp 3.2-litre engine in 2000. Power outputs for these engines increased over the years and generally the last of the line cars are the most desirable to go for. A facelift in 2003 saw some minor changes, the most notable of which was the addition of clear front light units and glass rear screens replacing the plastic versions. 
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 on the second hand market, although they shouldn’t be dismissed if you plan on using the car regularly. A 50th Anniversary 550 Spyder was released in 2004 and with only 1953 produced is the rarest 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.
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
A low-mileage facelifted Boxster S can be found for up to £12,500, while most well cared for examples with average mileages trade for in between the £6000 and £10,000 range. Tatty early cars with high mileages can be found for as low as £ 3000, however as ever they may cost you more in repairs down the road, so buy with care.
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.
Words: John Tallodi
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Last updated: 9th Dec 2015
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  • Porsche Boxster 2003 S

    £6,000 £6,000

    stunning black boxster 3200 s,,full tan leather,all electric,new power hood,fsh,mot,bose stereo,A/C,recent major service,new alternator,water pump,power steering pump,battery,all upgrades including alloys,1 previous owner,very quick car,high mileage but rock solid engine,a stunning car in superb condition 

    • Engine size: 3200
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £14,995 £14,995

    2002 PORSCHE BOXSTER 3.2S...Lapis Blue Metallic with Metropole Blue leather, 3.2i S engine with 6-speed manual gearbox, Equipped with PAS, ABS, On board computer, E/windows, E/mirrors, Air conditioning/Climate control, Full leather package, Hard backed sports seats, E/seats, 3 spoke leather sports steering wheel, Silver instrument dials, Silver painted centre console, Porsche sound package with 6 CD player, BOSE surround sound speaker package, Boxster S door entry guards, Metropole Blue power hood with glass rear heated screen, Wind deflector including bag, Silver painted roll hoops, Remote central locking, Alarm/Immobilizer, Multi airbags, 3rd brake light, Clear lenses, Twin sports tailpipes, 18” Turbo alloys, Porsche crested wheel centre caps, Red brake callipers, Originally supplied by AFN Porsche of Guildford, Complete with all owners handbooks etc, Full Porsche service history, Just 13,000 miles from new ! A stunning Boxster S with a fabulous specification and unique mileage, Previously supplied by ourselveses.

    • Year: 2002
    • Mileage: 13000 mi
    • Engine size: 3.2
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £63,995 £63,995

    Variant name:Roadster S ,Derivative:S ,Variant: 2.5 S 2dr PDK Porsche Boxster 2.5 S 2dr PDK BOSE® surround sound-system Connect Plus Cruise control Digital radio Electrically folding exterior mirrors including courtesy lighting Leather package Light design package Navigation Module for Porsche Communication Management (PCM) Park Assist (front and rear) Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) Porsche Crest embossed on headrests Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) Roll-over bars painted in exterior colour Seat heating Speed limit display Sport Chrono Package including mode switch Sports exhaust system (incl. sports tailpipes in black) Two-zone automatic climate control Wheel centres with full-colour Porsche Crest Wheels painted in Black (high-gloss) 20-inch Carrera S wheels

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 15 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £36,950 £36,950

    Variant name:24V ,Derivative:981 ,Variant: 24V 2015 ( 15 ) Finished in Carrera White with Black Leather/Alcantara - Upgrades Include - Sport Design Steering Wheel, Cruise Control, Two-Zone Automatic Climate Control, PCM Incl. Nav Module and Universal Audio Interface, Mesh Wind Deflector, Seat Heating, Power Steering Plus, Alloy Wheels - 20in 911 Turbo Alloy Wheels, Sound Package Plus, Park Assist Front and Rear - Standard Features Include - Air-Conditioning, Alarm, Computer, Electric Windows (Front), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD/MP3), Tinted Glass, 2 seats.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 6633 mi
    • Engine size: 2.7
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £31,989 £31,989

    Variant name:24V PDK ,Derivative:981 ,Variant: 24V PDK PDK, Black Leather/Alcantara upholstery, 18in Alloy Wheels, Air-Conditioning, SPORT mode, PCM Navigation,Reverse Parking Sensors, Electronic Stability Programme, Daytime Running Lights, Power Folding External Mirrors.Porsche Main Dealer Service History.

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 11860 mi
    • Engine size: 2.7
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster 1997

    £3,495 £3,495

    Beautiful black Porsche Boxster 986 2.5l for sale! In great condition with MOT and no advisories. Paint is clean and car drives like new. Rare spec with red leather interior. Black taillights, clear side repeaters and front repeaters are smoked. The tyres are in good condition and alloys are black with a chrome rim which look great with the black paintwork.

    • Mileage: 116000 mi
    • Engine size: 2500
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £11,990 £11,990

    Variant name:24V TIPTRONIC S ,Derivative:987 ,Variant: (987) 2.7 Tiptronic Convertible **ARRIVING SOON** **ARRIVING SOON. PREVIOUSLY SOLD BY OURSELVES** Finished In Cobalt Blue Metallic, First Registered 01/09/2005. **FULL SPECIFICATION TO FOLLOW**

    • Year: 2005
    • Mileage: 46000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.7
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster 987

    £13,000 £13,000

    Full Graphite Leather, Black Hood, Power Hood, Climate Control, Multiple Airbags, PCM 2, Satellite Navigation, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Electric Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Crested Centre Caps, 19'' Carrera ''S'' Alloys , Rear Spoiler, Wind Deflector, Bose Sound System, Factory Alarm, Factory Audio, 19'' Alloys Full Porsche Service history (5 stamps) and high level of specification supplied with 12 months premium warranty.

    • Mileage: 39000 mi
    • Engine size: 2687
    For sale
  • PORSCHE BOXSTER 986 2.7 Boxster Roadster 2004

    £8,950 £8,950

    Arctic Silver Metallic;Dark Blue Leather Interior;2004 Model Year (53 reg);52,000 miles;Manual Gearbox;;;Air Conditioning / Climate Control;Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows;Litronic Headlamps with Washing System;Porsche Crested Centre Caps;Rear Park Assist;Remote Central Locking;Spare Remote Key;17" Sport Classic Alloy Wheels ;;Just Arrived .. This stunning Facelift Boxster, having covered just 52,000 miles from new with Full Service History. The car has just been serviced as of the 4th January 2017 and benefits the IMS Bearing Upgrade.;;All our cars are fully HPI checked and clear.;; Debit and Credit Cards Accepted .. Part Exchange Welcome .. Finance Arranged .. International Shipping Arranged.;; VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

    • Mileage: 52000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.7
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £28,490 £28,490

    Heated Seats, Electric Seats, Satellite Navigation, 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 including Spark Plugs, Air Filter and Brake Fluid, New Rear Discs and Pads. 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: 26500 mi
    • Engine size: 3436
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £29,950 £29,950

    Variant name:RS60 SPYDER ,Derivative:987 ,Variant: RS60 SPYDER 2009 ( 58 ) Finished In GT Silver With Boxster Red Full Leather Interior - Upgrades Include - Silver Wheel Centres with Porsche Crest, Rear Parking Assistance, Sport Exhaust System, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Centre Console in Exterior Colour, Sports Seat Backrests Painted, Stainless Steel Door Entry Guards, Bi-Xenon Lighting System, Automatic Climate Control, Painted Roll Bar - Exterior Colour, Instrument Dials in Exterior Colour, Wind Deflector, Storage Box - Standard Features Include - Air-Conditioning, Electric Windows (Front), Alarm, 19" Sport Design Alloy Wheels, Adjustable Steering Column/Wheel, Central locking, CD Player, Electric door mirrors, Airbags, Power steering, Traction control, 2 seats.

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 19418 mi
    • Engine size: 3.4
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £11,950 £11,950

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Half Leather, Adjustable Steering Column, Cruise Control, Power Steering, Stability Control, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Air Bag, Electric Front Windows, Electric Mirrors, Power Hood, CD Player, Radio, Colour Coded Body, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Rear Spoiler, Metallic Paintwork, Headlamp Jetwash, CALL 02084655565, Stereo, P/X Welcome, Full service history

    • Mileage: 74000 mi
    • Engine size: 2687
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster

    £6,950 £6,950

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Alarm, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Stability Control, Traction Control, Trip Computer, ABS, Electric Front Windows, Electric Mirrors, Power Hood, CD Player, Radio, Colour Coded Body, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Full Leather, Stereo, CALL 02084655565, P/X Welcome, Premium Cloth soft top, Metallic Paintwork, Head Restraints, Air Bag, Sports Seats, Height Adjustable Seat, Alloy wheels, Full service history

    • Mileage: 58000 mi
    • Engine size: 2700
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster 3.4 S PDK

    £39,995 £39,995

    PDK Doppelpunkt Semi Automatic Gearbox Agate Grey Metallic Black Leather PASM Porsche Active Suspension Management Sport Chrono Package Plus Porsche PCM 3.0 Touchscreen Satnav With Universal Audio Interface & Bluetooth Phone Connectivity Telephone Module For PCM 20 Inch Bi Colour Carrera Classic Alloys Heated Seats Sports Seats Sound Package Plus Cruise Control Rear Park Assist Fully Automatic 2 Zone Climate Control Airconditioning Porsche PSM Stability Management Onboard Computer Windscreen Toptint Automatic Lights Climate Control Airconditioning Full Porsche Main Agent Service History Supplied with a Independent mechanical multipoint check & comprehensive 2 years parts and labour warranty. Please visit www.chappellsportscars.com for further information 12 Months MOT A thorough independent multipoint mechanical inspection and rectification of faults found carried out by a renowned Porsche specialist. HPI clear and national mileage register check with certificate At least 6 months or 6000 miles away from the next service All tyres have the correct speed & N rating and a minimum of double the legal tread depth limit

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 7500 mi
    For sale
  • 2005 Porsche Boxster 3.2 987 S Convertible 2dr Geneva Motor Show Launch car with Huge Specification and Extensive Service History.

    £24,900 £24,900

    John Holland Winner of Dealer's Dealer of the Year at the National Car Dealer Awards 2014/15 is delighted to offer for sale this Stunning Porsche Boxster S finished in Carrara White with Black Leather Interior. This car was the launch car at the Geneva Motor show back in 2004 showcasing the level of Specification available on the 987 Boxster. This car has 19inch Carrera S Alloy Wheels, Ceramic Brakes, Sports Seats, Carbon interior Trims, Carbon Sill Guards, Carrara White Centre Console, PCM Navigation, Sports Chrono, Porsche Active Suspension Management PASM, Carrara White Roll Over Bars, Full Leather Dash, Leather Sun Visors, Crest on Heat Rests, Full Electric Seats with Driver Memory, BOSE, A/C , C-Tek Charger and much more. The car also has an exceptional service history to go with is amazing condition, first service by Porsche Kendal on 30/10/2006 at 4525miles then look after by Porsche Specialist Porschetek done in 03/02/2009 at 9216miles, 13/04/2011 at 11927miles, 12/02/2014 at 12922miles and 25/11/2016 at 15250miles. Supplied with 2 keys and all its original manuals and wallet. John Holland has been established for over 40 years supplying a premium level of service in the sa

    • Year: 2005
    • Mileage: 15316 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster Tiptronic


    Vehicle Description Engine Capacity: 2687cc Transmission: Tiptronic Mileage: 45 366 Body Style: Roadster with hardtop 0 to 60: 6.40secs Top Speed: 157Mph BHP: 228 In stock now this Porsche Boxster Tiptronic was first registered in 2004 on an 04 registration and is a car which we have known for some years and have sold on previous occasions. Finished in Seal Grey with black leather it has covered 45366 miles from new and benefits from the versatile Tiptronic gearbox offering drivers the choice of fully automatic transmission or manual control using steering wheel mounted buttons. Fitted with climate control, rear parking sensors, electric windows and mirrors and being the facelifted Boxster 986 the car has the heated glass rear screen. Also included is a hardtop ensuring the car is practical to use all year around. Finally an aftermarket Parrot bluetooth kit keeps you legal, upgraded later model alloys set the car off well and a Tracker keeps your insurers happy. The car has been looked after from new by ourselves; 21/12/04 at 5924 miles 19/07/06 at 24147 miles 20/01/07 at 36187 miles 07/04/09 at 39391 miles

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 45366 mi
    For sale
  • Porsche Boxster PDK

    £40,950 £40,950

    HOME STOCK EMAIL PORSCHE BOXSTER 2.7 PDK Registered 23/09/2015 (15/65) Finished in Grey with Black Leather Interior 2 Owners From New 9,200 miles Sport Chrono Package Porsche Communication Management Satellite Navigation PDK - Dual Clutch Transmission including Start/Stop Function Sports Exhaust System BOSE Surround Sound Park Assist Front and Rear 20" Turbo Alloy Wheels Metallic Paint 2 Zone Climate Control Heated Seats Electric Black Canvas Roof £40,950 inc. VAT FURTHER INFORMATION FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THIS VEHICLE PLEASE EMAIL OR CALL OUR SALES TEAM SALES@SUPERVETTURA.COM T. +44(0)1344 620072 M. +44(0)7541 888310 FACEBOOK /SuperVettura TWITTER @SuperVettura INSTAGRAM /SuperVettura

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 9200 mi
    For sale
  • Boxster S

    £27,995 £27,995

    GT Silver Natural Carrera Red Leather Seats 3.4 Litre Direct Fuel Injection Flat Six Engine (310 bhp) Air Conditioning LED Daytime Running Lights 7-Speed PDK Gearbox Full Leather Interior Bluetooth Phone Preparation Touchscreen Satellite Navigation iPod/USB Interface For PCM Sport Seats Rear Park Assist PSM Red Power Hood Silver Dials Wind Deflector Colour Coded Roll Bar Stainless Steel Door Entry Guards 19" Sport Design Wheels Heated Seats BOSE Sound System Onboard Computer Cruise Control 45,091 miles 2010 (10) Porsche Boxster S GEN ll (987) for sale This striking Boxster S (987 GEN II) has the 7-speed PDK gearbox and is presented in GT Silver with Natural Carrera Red leather seats. The 3.4 litre flat six direct fuel injection engine develops 310 bhp and standard features include air conditioning, Porsche Stability Management, an onboard computer, a wind deflector, LED daytime running lights and a red power hood. Factory-fitted options include a full leather interior which extends to the dashboard and door cards, touchscreen satellite navigation with iPod/USB interface, Bluetooth phone preparation, sport seats, rear park assist, a colour coded roll over bar, stainless steel door e

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 45091 mi
    For sale
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