The Boxster is a two door roadster that was introduced in 1996 with a 2.5L (201bhp) engine, In 2000 it was upgraded to a 2.7 (217bhp) and a 3.2L (250bhp) version was added as well. In 2003 the 3.2 received a small power increase. The second generation Boxster was introduced in 2005.
Checkout our video comparison test drive of a Boxster 3.2S a long side a BMW Z4 2.5 Si. See link below,
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When people talk of German engineering they are more often than not doing so in an almost hallowed manner, as if referring to the holy grail of all things excellent. I am indeed guilty of this myself. So it would seem that when Porsche came to make the Boxster they had decided that they were getting sick of being stereotyped as the, great at cars, crap at jokes sort of person, and instead would play a joke on their customers. Out went the build quality and in came hugely expensive repair bills, the result of which is that Boxster ownership has become somewhat akin to playing Russian roulette with your bank account. I say Russian roulette as some owners have happily sailed past the 100k make without a hitch, where as others have had a much less pleasurable ownership experience, the causes of which I shall now outline.
Most of the problems (though not all) that have been putting the frighteners on Boxster owners seem to arise from the engine which was Porsche's first attempt at making, and selling, a water cooled flat 6, and sadly it would appear that their customers were an integral part of the development process judging from the collection of issues that owners have faced, including porous engine castings, leaking seals and bearing failures, to mention a few. And if its not the engine that causes you loads of problems then there is still the gearbox waiting in the wings, read to ambush the smug with its recalculant second gear.
I have provided a link here to a list of issues that you can look forward to upon buying a Boxster.
The up shot of all this is that £5000 engine rebuilds are not uncommon and a sticky second gear will really need a rebuild which is another £2000.
Of course not all Boxsters are going to ruin you financially, and I have been indulging in a bit of creative license with what I said above. There are plenty of owners out there who swear by their cars and have never had a problem. Indeed they will tell you about the excellent handling and poise of the car, the amazing performance (if they are driving a 3.2S) and the wonderful banshee howl of the flat 6 engine. And of course the kudos that comes with owning a Porsche.
Its just that I can't help but think that, as you are about to hand over the money for your Boxster, its rather reminiscent of the scene from Dirty Harry where Clint Eastwood has caught up with a robber and has got a Magnum 45 to his head. and in this instance the seller is Dirty Harry and your the robber (“well punk, do ya feel lucky”)
So if I haven't managed to put you off buying one, what things would you want to consider, that I haven't already mentioned, when looking for a Boxster. Well to start off with its fair to say that all the horror stories of those reliability issues are starting to have an effect on prices and there are now a lot of older 2.5s and 2.7s kicking about pretty cheap. Of course what you must remember when looking at a bargain basement Boxster is that these a basically budget super cars with repair and servicing costs to match. And don't think you can just pop the car down to your friendly local mechanic, these car are seriously complex and even a minor under bonnet twiddle about can upset them in a way that only a specialist will know how to sort out. The 3.2S, which came out in 2000, does seem to be slightly less problematic as far as the engine is concerned though the gearbox can get up to it usual sticky second gear tricks.
On the positive side, its worth considering when buying that a lot of the problems will have been fixed buy previous owners and as I said a lot of cars have had no problems at all, so there is something to be said for a higher mileage car that has left the gremlins behind, so ask for any evidence of work that has been done.
I have been very hard on the Porsche Boxster and I know there are going to be some very angry owners reading this, but not as angry I'm sure as the person who drops £4k on one only to have to pick up a £5k bill a few weeks later.
In summary the Boxster is a great car that has been let down by reliability issues that Porsche seemed reluctant to address, issues that are now hurting their values on the second hand car market, which are at present still dropping (March 2016). Of course there are many good ones out there that have, for instance, had the IMS bearing and RMS seal upgraded, and possibly even the gearbox rebuilt (see note below)and will now have the makings of a real future classic. Alternatively, and as I said earlier, cars with a higher mileage may well have proved to be one of the lucky ones that just sailed happily passed all the problems that have afflicted others. Though you will have to consider the fact that high mileage cars will never have the collect-ability that low mileage ones do. You pays ya money, you makes ya choices.
Note: There are some suggestions on forums covering the Boxster that Getrag, who make the gearbox for Porsche were fitting incorrect shims in some of the gearboxes hence the problems with second gear. Both Getrag and Porsche firmly deny this though it would suggest why some boxes throw up problems after only a few miles, where as others have no problem at all. Certainly the Boxster that I know of developed second gear problems after only 26k.... just saying.
Prices (March 2016)
1998 2.5L 123k miles Black £4000
2004 2.7L 126k miles Silver £5200
2004 3.2L 48k miles Grey £11000