RE: Porsche Classic Boxster S (986) | Driven

RE: Porsche Classic Boxster S (986) | Driven

Saturday 13th July

Porsche Classic Boxster S (986) | Driven

Want a 20 year-old, but almost box-fresh, 986 Boxster S? On this experience, yes you do...



Having endured its time in the doldrums - remember the power jibes, fried egg jokes, poor person's 911 put downs and so on - the original, 986 Porsche Boxster is enjoying some deserved time in people's affections. Beyond recognising how crucial the car was to Porsche's astonishing renaissance over the past quarter of a century, it's also making the grade as a bona fide classic sports car.

The 1990s are cool again now, in case you hadn't noticed. Six-cylinder Boxsters are back, the latest Spyder now a Porsche Motorsport car for the very first time. There's a Porsche-based series for the original 'S', which looks likely to feature a bigger grid next year. It's also still a relatively cheap first Porsche, yet not one which can be poked fun at for an inappropriate engine: the Boxster is a mid-engined, rear-drive, flat-six sports car made by Porsche. And nobody else. That's not going to happen again, certainly not in the mainstream, and even the loveliest cars aren't more than Β£10,000, which isn't a great deal. There's one 968 Club Sport on PH for less than Β£30,000, by way of comparison.

Perhaps what appeals most about a Boxster nowadays, as with so many classics, is its representation of a concept no longer offered by the manufacturer. It has delightful hydraulic power steering, a six-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive and half a dozen horizontally opposed cylinders running off nothing more than air and super unleaded. Once upon a time it was an advanced concept, Porsche having not offered anything mid-engined for decades, though now it harks back to an idea that's refreshingly modest and simple. The steering wheel is free from buttons - indeed the interior is pretty bare - there aren't a plethora of drive modes to choose from, relatively speaking, it won't be tremendously difficult to work on. Assuming the reliability issues are contained...


You've probably noticed, however, that this isn't quite a standard 986 Boxster S. It's one of the 10 restored at the end of last year by Porsche Centres at Recommended Repairers, overhauled from top to bottom and painted Liquid Metal - previously only for the 918 Spyder - before being sold at the Classic Motor Show. With this one still available, however, an offer to see what a new, old Boxster is like to drive was too intriguing to pass up.

Full disclosure: a heck of a lot has gone into this car. X582 NKM has 106,961 miles on it, so has clearly been enjoyed in its 19 years. But when the list of 13 new and replacement parts (which doesn't even feature all of them) includes new pistons, crank, roof, clutch, brake discs and suspension, you can tell it's a thorough job. That's before all the reconditioned parts as well: the rest of the engine was rebuilt, along with the gearbox, cooling system and every ancillary part. Aside from the new paint the underbody was re-waxed, the interior was refitted and fresh glass was put in as well. This is not your average 100,000-mile Boxster - not by a long chalk.

As a result, it doesn't drive like one but, crucially, hasn't been made to drive like a modern car either, rather an exquisitely done original. Given how fawned over the Boxster once was, and how well regarded so many cars from this time period were - E39 M5, Integra Type R, Ferrari 550 and so on - it should come as little surprise that in 2019 it's just lovely company.


What the Boxster isn't, however, is some loose and lively old sports car. We whinge about tyre sizes now, but this S was running a 265-section rear back at the turn of the millennium. So traction is enormous, as is the grip from the new Pirelli P Zeroes, perhaps a little more than is ideal actually. And the gearing is arguably too long - this isn't a modern affliction by any means.

What's on offer overall, though, is a beautifully balanced, honed and rewarding sports car, which is probably what could be said of a contemporary 718. The difference here is having such lovely steering feel, a more emotive noise (if one that's quite subdued), more compact dimensions and the impression of having an enjoyable time, of testing the car, without travelling at warp speed. No doubt this car also once faced criticism for being too capable and too aloof way back when, too polished with the 993 911 very much in recent memory, but times change. As mentioned, there seems a real sweet spot around the turn of the millennium where performance, modernity, usability, size and desirability all reached an ideal point for UK-based enthusiasts. The Boxster S is definitely part of that clique, and this car a fine exemplar of it.

Roof down, windows lowered, exhaust purring behind and iconic Porsche dials in front, it's hard not to enjoy a B-road blast. We've come a fair way in terms of structural rigidity since the late 1990s, sure, but that simply means the Boxster's pace is a little more relaxed, and the driver can appreciate what's going on at more sedate speeds. Obviously this isn't some Elan-like waif, the 986, although it does represent a welcome step back to a time of regular sports cars being merely swift and enjoyable, rather than stupendously rapid. Which, again, is probably what was said about 914s when this car was launched - everything is relative.


Difference being, crucially, that key elements feel modern enough in the 986 to make it more viable than the old classics. It still feels solid, like a crash wouldn't be the end of it, not as vulnerable as some of the old classics might. It has air conditioning, the electric roof is well insulated, and a Porsche Classic radio is coming soon that offers DAB. That's what makes this car - and contemporary rivals, like the S2000 and original Z4 - so appealing: there's the classic charm in a screaming engine, or design encumbered by fewer safety regs, with modern build quality standards that mean it feels resilient enough to be driven regularly. And who doesn't like the sound of that?

Unsurprisingly, then, a Boxster S rejuvenated by Porsche is a little gem, the perfect antidote to an increasingly complex and confusing automotive landscape. As well it might be for the money being asked, the proviso being that it's quite a bit rarer than most - and this much work completed at Porsche was never going to be cheap. So although a Β£30k Boxster is not exactly a viable (or sensible) proposition for all, this one does at least prove the enduring joy that always was (and always will be) in the idea.

Us? We'd spend the money on making a good Boxster a little angrier instead, taking that ideal template and turning it into something a bit more exciting for a bit less cash - you might have heard 986s make quite good little racers...


SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE BOXSTER S (986)
Engine: 3,179cc, flat-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 260@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 229@4,700rpm
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Top speed: 163mph
MPG: 27
CO2: NA
Weight: 1,320kg
Price: This one is Β£30k...

Inspired? Search for a Porsche Boxster here














[Photos: Dafydd Wood]

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Author
Discussion

g7jhp

Original Poster:

5,991 posts

182 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Great cars at the right price.

Those black wheels would have to go.

Not a £30k car when you could have a nice Gen 2 987.2 Boxster S for much less, which has a reliable engine.

Court_S

1,033 posts

121 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Whilst I like these a lot, I’m not sure I could spend £30k on one. Yes, I know it’s had a lot done to it, but that’s an awful lot of money for what is a very old car.

helix402

4,853 posts

126 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Black wheels are wrong as are the tacky no plate plinths.

kett

40 posts

139 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
I bought an S new in April 2000. It was wonderfully balanced and sonorous.
Their commonality soon made the ownership less special, OPC servicing costs were high and depreciation was obscene.

I swapped it for a Renaultsport V6 255 in 2006, which I’ve happily kept to this day.


dvshannow

966 posts

80 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Looks like a totally reasonable price for the effort put in and I can see why this will end up in collections but as a car for the average buyer it makes zero sense

mazio

1 posts

83 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Obviously it looks great, but it is still a 100k plus car and £30k would easily buy you a 981 model. Also surprised they have not fitted modified IMS bearing during rebuild process.
I am constantly reminded by sales people that you can spend whatever you like doing up a car, it’s value will always be dictated by current market values and not what you have spent on it.

highway

1,154 posts

204 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
These cars designed in Germany where the heating makes sense. I’ve just returned from a jolly to Switzerland in mine. They are massively underrated as result of cheap prices and ubiquity.

Deep Thought

23,618 posts

141 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
If i was spending £30K on a 20 year old rebuilt Boxster, i'd expect them to have went to the trouble of putting the front number plate on straight rolleyes

Deep Thought

23,618 posts

141 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
As has been said, plenty of original cars available for an awful lot less than this - and that will hold their money.

Buy this and drive it a couple of years and you're really going to struggle to convince anybody its worth ££,£££'s more than all the others out there.

kingston12

2,425 posts

101 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
mazio said:
Obviously it looks great, but it is still a 100k plus car and £30k would easily buy you a 981 model. Also surprised they have not fitted modified IMS bearing during rebuild process.
I am constantly reminded by sales people that you can spend whatever you like doing up a car, it’s value will always be dictated by current market values and not what you have spent on it.
Indeed. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to pick up a solid 986S for £5k and do all of this work to it (except wheel and paint colour) if you really wanted one this well sorted?

The market itself is dictated by rarity and there are so many of these left that values won’t go up much for years to come.

I suppose it must happen at some point - there are a lot of cars that a way inferior to the 986S that command several times the money.

cerb4.5lee

12,151 posts

124 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
I've never got on with the way these look and it is such a terrible design for me. I'd love a go in one though because I guess that they drive far better than they look.

Deep Thought

23,618 posts

141 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
kingston12 said:
mazio said:
Obviously it looks great, but it is still a 100k plus car and £30k would easily buy you a 981 model. Also surprised they have not fitted modified IMS bearing during rebuild process.
I am constantly reminded by sales people that you can spend whatever you like doing up a car, it’s value will always be dictated by current market values and not what you have spent on it.
Indeed. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to pick up a solid 986S for £5k and do all of this work to it (except wheel and paint colour) if you really wanted one this well sorted?

The market itself is dictated by rarity and there are so many of these left that values won’t go up much for years to come.

I suppose it must happen at some point - there are a lot of cars that a way inferior to the 986S that command several times the money.
Exactly.

A nice 986S could be bought requiring minimal - if any - work to get it to a very nice standard for maybe £10K. It will hold its value very nicely too. This will depreciate heavily.

tosh.brice

161 posts

155 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
The article is a weird mixture of hyperbole and faint praise, presumably reflecting the ambivalence of the writer, who was doubtless grateful for the ride but probably agrees with the above comments on value.

Plate spinner

13,283 posts

144 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Deep Thought said:
If i was spending £30K on a 20 year old rebuilt Boxster, i'd expect them to have went to the trouble of putting the front number plate on straight rolleyes
Agreed

gsmetro

8 posts

154 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
I Bought a 2000 Boxster S nearly 2 years ago- 45k on the clock (just ticked over 50k) fully loaded including phone! GT3 wheels and MO30 suspension, cost 7k and still feels fresh. I took the plunge to keep up its service history at porsche, although I could do all the work myself and was given a new Boxster as a courtesy car. For all the new cars techno wizardry and performance, jumping back into a 19yr old car felt so much more alive and I missed that flat 6 sound. Great cars and we still have an early 2.5 in the family which is still a hoot to drive and relatively simple to maintain. Buy a good one and enjoy great value driving. 😀

kingston12

2,425 posts

101 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
gsmetro said:
I Bought a 2000 Boxster S nearly 2 years ago- 45k on the clock (just ticked over 50k) fully loaded including phone! GT3 wheels and MO30 suspension, cost 7k and still feels fresh. I took the plunge to keep up its service history at porsche, although I could do all the work myself and was given a new Boxster as a courtesy car. For all the new cars techno wizardry and performance, jumping back into a 19yr old car felt so much more alive and I missed that flat 6 sound. Great cars and we still have an early 2.5 in the family which is still a hoot to drive and relatively simple to maintain. Buy a good one and enjoy great value driving. ??
Absolutely. I have got a 987S and borrowed a 718GTS last month whilst it was in for service. It’s a completely different car now - much faster, more capable, better build and interior, but with odd, numb steering.

I had a 981 for a day during the previous service, and I don’t remember the steering being quite so bad, and the engine was much nicer.

It does seem ridiculous to say that I wouldn’t swap my 987 for one (£ aside), but I don’t think I would!

greenarrow

1,689 posts

61 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all

Agree with all the comments about this car. Would be much more satisfying to seek out a standard Boxster S from this era that had the IMS bearing sorted. They're really pretty cheap right now.

Its also true about the cars around from this era, all time greats, like E39 M5, Integra Type R, EVO 6....

There's a case for saying that 1999-2000 was one of the greatest periods for drivers cars that today would still offer very modern performance but without all the additional electronic aids and gubbins that detract from the overall experience.

can't remember

682 posts

72 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
Funny how this pops up a day after Smith and Sniffs baggy Boxster video. £3k shed for me any day of the week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97iIg1a_2tY&t=...

GranCab

1,512 posts

90 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
But you do get a houndstooth check handbag thrown in for free ....

Adam B

16,023 posts

198 months

Saturday 13th July
quotequote all
If you are crazy enough to spend £30k on this, does Porsche give you a new 3 year warranty?


Which I would probably invalidate by putting the wheels, PSE and mirrors back to standard colours smile