(Approximate Years: Owned 2005-2008, my age, 28-31)
By the time 2005 arrived, I was now working in a job that was on my chosen career path. I grew up with computers and have always been fascinated with them. Watching things change from the days of the Sinclair Spectrum, through the Commodore Amiga and then into PCs, I liked to program and see what I could do with them. Getting a career doing this was perfect for me, and it also happened to pay quite well. Not quite as well as those who were true experts in this field who, rather than seeking full time employment which was my path of choice, they went for the contractor route instead and earned some serious money. I was still learning though, and the security of regular employment was better for my personality type. But it was here that I met a couple of guys who owned Porsches. Now, this was a time period where no-one I knew owned cars like this and so meeting these guys just confirmed to me my choice of career, and getting better at the job became an aspiration largely due to the realisation that the car shaped fruits of that labour could be rather exciting indeed.
My work colleague John was one of these contractors and he was extremely good at what he did and very well respected in the office. He was an easy-going type of guy and easy to get on with and through general chat and my love of cars someone mentioned that he had a Porsche 968. He rarely came in to the office in it, preferring to keep a low profile (as most contractors do) and instead driving a new Rover car, but he brought it in on occasional sunny days and offered to take me out in it. This was my first experience of what I considered a true supercar and it was that 968 that made me wonder if maybe one day I could own a Porsche too. I liked that idea a lot.
Another colleague of mine back then was Matt and he had a Porsche 944. Although a cheaper car than the 968, the fact he was running one daily solidified in my mind that you could actually buy cars like this, and that they weren’t the financially ruinous machines that I’d always imagined. It was Matts next car, which inspired the path to my next purchase. He turned up one day and told me he had bought a new car. I looked out of the window to the office car park, and there was a Porsche Boxster. These were still pretty new cars in the early 2000’s and although envious I hugely admired that he’d got one. He took me for a drive in it, and it was then that owning one became the next life-goal. Time to really knuckle down and get those promotions under my belt…
I don’t think there is a greater motoring experience than the feeling of wind-in-your hair on a great care free sunny day down your favourite twisty road. I bought a Boxster to satisfy the roofless craving and ran it for three years. Having owned an MR2 before this, I was looking to move up the motoring ladder and once that promotion arrived it meant that the Boxster was now on the radar.
There were plenty for sale, but there was also a lot of rubbish out there. My journey took me several hundreds of miles to be met with lots of disappointment and frustration. From cars that were generally tatty (one hadn’t even been cleaned!), cars having rust(!) and one which I initially purchased until the agreed day of inspection by a professional at which point the seller backed out.
I eventually found my car 100 miles from home, in Lapis Blue. The owner had just washed it as I turned up and in the sunlight it looked great. Lapis has a purple tinge which gave the car a unique colouring, more striking than the midnight blue colour that I had originally purchased.
The owner lived on a farm and there were plenty of small, quiet roads around to give the car a road test. The roof was down and the ride was enjoyable. Then I took a turning down a narrow road with a church that was in the final throws of a wedding celebration. The photographer – and all the guests – were out in the middle of the road. And there was me, all exposed with the roof down, sheepishly creeping towards them.
That was my first experience of fully fledged self-consciousness. As I shrunk into my seat (as best as a 6’4? bloke in a small sports car possibly can), I uttered various apologies as the waves parted allowing us through.The seller – my passenger – seemed largely oblivious to the attention, something I later attributed to having owned the car for some time that you become incognizant to the attention the car can attract. My spirits were heightened to a ‘done deal’ level as we slowly drove through that crowded street and the rather attractive bridesmaids commented “oooh, nice car”.
Twenty minutes later, I had me a Boxster, subject to inspection.
The inspection report (done by Peter Morgan, before he retired) highlighted a few niggling faults, but nothing to be too wary of. Overall, the report stated it was a good buy, at a decent price. Slightly over what I wanted to pay, but this was a 2.7, rather than the 2.5’s that I had been looking at previously. In fairness, I couldn’t tell the performance difference between the engines but from a resale perspective I figured a 2.7 would be a better bet with the added bonus that I was stretching to a newer car, with presumably newer and better internal components. This particular car also had the revised Tequipment wheels, which are similar to the “S” model wheels but less rounded with a more edgy design. I liked them a lot.
Driving home, after buying my new car was both a wonderful and scary experience. I’d just paid £18,500 for a Porsche. That’s by far and away the most I’d ever spent on a car and I’d just bought a legendary badge with a preconception of wealth. That made me scared and proud. With these thoughts I began to wonder if I had done the right thing. Maybe I should have stayed within my comfort zone and bought a ‘normal’ car? I stepped out of the box with the MR2, maybe this was a step too far?
“Porsche Panic” – a common affliction that affects mere mortals who purchase desirable Marques – started to settle in on the way home. However, after about 30 minutes this feeling subsided as I thought “aah, fek it!”. Pressing the loud pedal a little harder and glancing in the rear view mirror at those wide Boxster hips helped to bring me to a grinning calm. I was in a Porsche Boxster. Me. I’d got one. It was all mine and truth be told, I couldn’t be happier!!
Driving and Ownership
Driving the Boxster is fantastic. Walking outside and seeing the sun shining on those rare occasions in Britain comes with the immediate thought “TOP DOWN!!” – and you’ll find excuses to drive places. Weekends away and regular days out became a very common occurrence. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before or since in another car, even in my future convertible cars, at least not to the same extent. There is something about the Boxster that just feels right. The lapis blue looks fantastic when clean – it really gleams in the daylight, and looks dark and shiny at night. However, it attracts dirt like the colour black and required lots of cleaning to keep at its optimum pose level.
The car took me all over the country and I only ever had positive comments about the car. It turned heads, people ask you about it and kids pointed and mouthed “Porsche” as it drove by. From a pure vanity point of view, it’s cool! Porsche is now common enough though that it won’t attract much attention in the car park, meaning you can leave it at Tesco’s without worrying that it’ll be a bonnet-sprawling photo opportunity for passers-by, nor a noticeable item worth a punt by a thieving chancer. That said, some clown did run over the car when it was parked at my friend Mitch’s house one time. Literally ‘ran’ over the car – and the fabric roof – and left footprints in his wake. Thankfully there was no damage.
The car handles beautifully and inspires confidence when applying effort to your driving. You can corner at speeds which are both safe and fun, and feel like you’re being rewarded for your efforts.
The interior of the 986 is very curvy and there are some neat little styling cues marking a notable attention to detail in the cabin. The swooping lines which follow along the doors and door pocket covers look great, the instruments are nicely placed to glance at (I love how Porsche deem that the rev counter is more important than the speedometer!). The Becker stereo (with Sound Package Plus option) kicks out some meaty bass without being overbearing. A few cars I looked at had the standard speaker system which was pretty terrible, getting very breathless at even moderate volumes. The Sound Package Plus, or the Bose are definitely worthy of consideration if you like your choons bangin’.
As a tallie, its perhaps a little too cramped inside and longer journeys require a couple of stops to get out for a stretch. A small price to pay for such a rewarding driving experience though.
I purchased a Smart Top relay for my car, meaning you can drop the roof whilst moving at up to 30mph. This is a great feature, meaning you don’t have to pull up with the handbrake on to active the roof mechanism on the 986 models.
I also bought a set of clear lights to freshen up the face of the car. A worthwhile investment, and makes the car look more modern. Clear lights came standard from 2003 model cars rather than having orange indicators. This reduces the ‘chucky egg’ effect of the front assembly.
As my car was kept outside, I also purchased a hard-top for the car. This required additional Spinlocks to be fitted, so that the roof can be mounted on the car. These were only pre-fitted to cars which have had a hardtop at some point in their life, so most cars need these before retrofitting a hardtop. The hardtop was brilliant – it made the cabin noticeably quieter and warmer for the winter months, and gave the car a different look to the convertible. Two cars for the price of one; can’t be bad!
For the summer time, I bought a set of Speedster Humps. These are genuine Porsche items from the Tequipment range and they affix to the hard top mount points and attach to the roll bar. I thought they looked pretty smart, and they covered the visible fabric when the roof was down.
All these items (except maybe the humps) were a good investment. Whilst the initial outlay was expensive, I recouped most of these costs as sold them separate to the car itself when the time came. Over three years of ownership, although the above items cost around £1,700 initially, they were all sold on for about £1200 with most of the loss being from the hardtop paint and humps. However, as the roof saved the aging fabric from the harshness of the winter months, this meant that I didn’t have to buy a replacement during my ownership – although I did have to have a new rear plastic window, which cracked during my ownership. The difference between old and new was so noticable – the newer screen felt almost sticky and pliable, compared to the aged old screen which felt as stiff as glass!
As mentioned, my Boxster was inspected by Peter Morgan who wrote for 911 & Porsche World magazine. One of the photos he took of my car was later featured in the Boxster buying guide supplement in one of the magazine issues. I was delighted when browsing the magazines in WHSmiths I saw my car proud of place on the back page! I bought 3 copies!
Reliability and Costs
Now, you may have heard about the ‘legendary build quality’ of Porsche. So had I, one of the reasons for looking at the Boxster. Back in 1996, when the Boxster was introduced, this statement of Porsche was based largely on one car; the iconic 911. By all accounts, this was a supercar and rivalled the likes of Maserati, Lotus and Ferrari – all of which seemingly required nothing more than a stiff breeze to have the internal engine components shrivel up and die, leaving you stranded in whichever bus stop or lay by you could coast to. By comparison then, the everyday supercar from Porsche really was something special. You could actually use it in all weather – any time that it suited you. But whilst this superb reliability compares well to other supercars of the same era, it doesn’t really when compared to say a newer MX5 that you might have considered for the same price point instead.
High mileage did take its toll on my Boxster in terms of running costs. It’s a high-performance machine and whilst it’s true that most will probably never leave you stranded in the same way that other prestige sports manufacturers might, it did cost a fair bit to keep going.
At the time of purchasing the 986, the 987 was just out and the lease deals were amazing due to the solid residuals, but I opted for a 986 thinking that by the time a lease was up on a 987, I’d own the 986 outright and therefore have something to show for it. Having later owned the 987 Cayman, I think the latter cars are a better buy. They seem to be more reliable than the 986, have more room in the cabin and look much more modern.
Maintenance came in at around £5,000 over three years with a couple of issues that left the car unusable and a tow required (radiators leaking being one, and an electrical fault being the other), plus £1700 for the hard top, humps, lights and Smart Top relay, most of which I got back on sale, plus £9,000 in depreciation.
Where is it now?
I sold the car back in 2008 to a local chap, who had the car for a long time – he might still have it. I used to see him driving around from time to time – always with the top down – and always with a big grin on his face.
In the end….
On balance, it was a fun car. Despite the downsides of the breakdowns and sometimes eye wateringly expensive repair bills, the driving fun with the top down was unrivalled. The Boxster was not only great to drive – it actually makes you feel special, just for driving it.