Porsche Boxster 986-series first generation At the other extreme of the roadster market in terms of age and spec is ...
Porsche Boxster 986-series first generation

At the other extreme of the roadster market in terms of age and spec is the 986-series Boxster, launched by Porsche in 1996 and remaining in production for eight years. All versions were powered by an ex-911 horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine, this time mid-mounted to ensure more predictable handling and roadholding than you’d expect from the Boxster’s big brother. The end result was a ‘proper’ Porsche with real driver appeal and impressive performance, reinforced further once the 3.2-litre Boxster S took a bow in 2000.

You can spend a lot less than £10,000 on a Boxster nowadays, but stretching your budget should bring extra peace of mind – as well as a superior car in every respect. In fact, you should end up with an excellent late-model 986-generation Boxster S, a machine that would have cost the best part of £40,000 when new, and which offered a mighty 250bhp – enough for a top speed of 160mph-plus, hitting 60 along the way in less than six seconds. The downside (inevitably, of course) is that tax and insurance for a late-model Boxster will be significantly dearer than for an older classic.

Buying a late 986 hopefully also means avoiding the engine issues of the earliest Boxsters, which can include cracked cylinder liners and failure of the intermediate shaft bearing (responsible for transmitting drive from the engine’s crankshaft to the timing chains, which in turn operate the camshafts). 2000-on cars are far more robust, but you should always insist on a full service history and evidence of a high level of maintenance.
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    BOXSTER ‘S’ (986) #2003 / 03 29,682 MILES £11,975

    2003 #Porsche Boxster S #986

    I probably ought to stop using my E28 BMW 525e to go and do these Tried & Tested stories. Junction 17 Cars’ Neil Tetherton spotted me unloading my camera gear from it, a few minutes after he had handed over the 986 Boxster ‘S’ that was to be the subject of my story, and soon – much as happened at Lap 63 in Bicester last month – we were deep in conversation about the many merits of Munich’s finest rather than Stuttgart’s. Which, of course, is actually rather enjoyable. My eclectic taste in old cars is not something I expect others to share, much less someone who sells late-model Porsches, Ferraris, Bentleys and other high-end marques for a living.

    What, then, of this four-owner #Porsche-Boxster ‘S’, one of 120 or so prestige models – and around 30 Porsches – currently in stock at the company’s Peterborough branch? (And there is another, with about 80 similar vehicles, in Nottingham.) Like the BMW it is arguably nothing particularly special, except perhaps by virtue of its low mileage and excellent condition (neither of which qualities applies to the 230,000-mile ‘eta’, sadly, although it is structurally very sound, and otherwise a work in progress). It has an entirely adequate specification, however, a timelessly elegant colour scheme – Seal Grey, with a Metropole Blue interior and matching hood – and not least the benefit of a recent new clutch and IMS bearing upgrade. There are six stamps in the service history, from a mix of Porsche Centres and latterly independents, the most recent being from D&G Motor Engineers on Tyneside last June, who also fitted that clutch and IMS bearing, as well as (for reasons unknown) a second-hand drive shaft. Total bill for all that was a not unreasonable £1708 including VAT.

    The gearbox is the standard six-speed manual, wheels the 17-inch multi-spoke rims that have presumably been on the car from new. Tyres – all with about 50 per cent of their tread remaining – are Cooper Zeons at the front, and Pirelli PZeros at the rear. Inside, the seats are fully electrically adjustable, with a memory function for the driver’s side. Three-spoke steering wheel and white-faced dials are the usual Boxster fare of the period, and there is a trip computer, a Porsche CDR23 radio and single-disc CD player, and the shallow but still useful storage compartment behind the seats. There is no wind deflector between the two roll-over hoops, sadly, but it would surely be easy to find a second-hand one.

    No complaints on the condition front, either. There are the usual small stonechips on the front apron, and a couple of minor scrapes beneath it, but nothing that, if they really troubled you (and there will always be more), couldn’t be eliminated by a repaint. Both body sides are unmarked, and there is no surface rust on the lower wheelarch edges, behind the front wheels. The underside is good, too: bone-dry at the rear, beneath the engine, no signs of a trackday ‘off’, and although the vulnerable air-con pipes at the right-hand front corner of the floorpan have been very slightly squashed – presumably by a garage lift – I would be happy to ignore them until or unless the system stopped working as a result. Both condensers are clean and dry. It’s a similar story inside the cabin.

    Some ‘patina’ on the driver’s seat, but no other marks, and everything works as it’s supposed to. The hood – with a proper glass rear window – is fine, too, although there are a few compression marks in the fabric, which suggest that it has spent much of its time folded, presumably because when the Boxster was not being driven and enjoyed it was kept in a garage. The car is predictably good to drive, with the usual punchy performance you would expect of 260bhp and 310Nm. Not a sign of tell-tale steam in the exhaust, even from a cold start; a nice, smooth clutch, which makes it easy to pull away from rest; and a taut but refined ride. Good brakes, as well, despite the grooved discs, but those, too, need nothing more than a workout rather than immediate replacement.

    The brightness of these images belies the temperature – and strength – of the wind blowing across the East Anglian fens in early March, but there is no doubt that summer is coming. And this will be a great little Porsche in which to enjoy it. Twelve years old it may be, but with only four owners, and 30,000 miles on the clock, it surely has a satisfyingly long life still ahead of it. Specification is perhaps not the most comprehensive you will ever find – not that there was a great deal available to be added in those now relatively far-off days – but it has fully electric seats, with memory function for the driver, and a perfectly adequate stereo system. No wind deflector, which is arguably nigh-on essential for open-top driving (and no heated seats, either), but it would be easy enough to find one on the second-hand market. Brake discs and pads might need replacement in the not too distant future (although they work perfectly), and the under-floor air-con pipes show evidence of being partially squashed by a jack or garage lift, but again those could wait until it becomes an issue; system works fine. Recent clutch and IMS bearing upgrade are major plus points. And it’s hard not to be drawn in by that appealing grey-and blue colour scheme.

    An essentially standard and run-of-the mill but still very attractive 986-model Boxster ‘S’. As a 2003 car it has the benefit of a glovebox, electric switches on the sills for the front and rear lids, and not least a glass rear window in the folding hood. Four previous owners, and MOT-tested to November 2015. (No advisories on current certificate.) Fully HPI-checked by Junction 17 Cars, and MOT history cross-checked with VOSA to corroborate recorded mileage.

    Junction 17 Cars is a well-established family-run business with its primary base in virtually brand-new, purpose-built premises in Yaxley, near Peterborough. There is a secondary site in Nottingham – and a full on-line showroom for both at This Boxster is at Yaxley. Viewing and test-driving is by appointment, but the company always aims to be as flexible as possible in that respect. More details on 01733 247222.

    FOR #Porsche-Boxster-S-986
    Great colour scheme, modest but highly acceptable specification (including the later Boxster’s glovebox and glass rear window, and improved gearbox), low mileage (just 2500 per year, on average), and not least a recent IMS bearing upgrade and a new clutch. Good history.

    AGAINST #Porsche-Boxster-986
    Not the cheapest of its kind – but then you buy that kind of older modern Porsche very much at your peril. Doesn’t truly sparkle in every way, either, but it would take little time and effort to have it looking that way – and then you will have something quite exceptional.

    VERDICT #Porsche-Boxster-S 986
    Perhaps not the ‘sexiest’ Porsche among Junction 17’s very impressive stock, but a great introduction to the way they do business – and I would have been more than happy to take it away for keeps.

    VALUE AT A GLANCE #Porsche-986
    Condition 5
    Price 3+
    Performance 4+
    Overall 4
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