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Porsche Boxster (986): the buying guide

IT’S A CHARMING ROADSTER – Launched as an entry-level model to the range, the Porsche Boxster debuts in 1996 with shapes that remain very faithful to those, slender and with a vaguely retro flavor, of the beautiful prototype unveiled three years earlier at the Detroit show. Our buying guide refers to the first version of the German roadster, i.e. the one identified by the project code 986which brings the first liquid-cooled six-cylinder boxer in the history of the Zuffenhausen company to its debut, a unit that a couple of years later will also equip the older 911 sister for the first time. from a 2.5 and 204 CVbut already in 1999 the engine capacity rises to 2.7 liters and the power at 220 HP. In 2000 the family expanded with the S versiondriven by a more gritty 3.2 and 256 CV. With the facelift in 2002which among the aesthetic novelties includes the glass rear window instead of the plastic one, both “flat-six” gain a handful of horsepower: the “2700” reaches 228 HP, while the 3.2 provides 260.

WHAT TO CHECK INSIDE AND OUT – The Porsche Boxster 986 They are heavy bodied cars and are rarely plagued with rust issues. If not, be careful: any corroded parts could be a sign of old accidents. After doing an initial general check of the externalit is always good to dwell on the drainage holes of the capote: if the passenger compartment shows traces of humidity, they could be blocked. If the carpet covering the rear lid is wet, the cause could be a leak from the antifreeze reservoir. Just behind the front bumper are the radiator of the engine cooling system and that of the “climate”: damaged by road debris, they could be corroded and must therefore be checked carefully.

UNDER THE BONNET NO ANXIES, BUT SOME TREATMENTS YES – The bad reputation of the first liquid-cooled six-cylinder boxers from the Zuffenhausen company, including those that equip the Porsche Boxster 986 produced between 1996 and 2004, is unjustified. Beyond any urban legend, it is indeed about reliable engines, albeit marked by some congenital criticalities. The most notorious concerns the weakness of the intermediate shaft bearing: the parent company mounted two types, with a single or double row of spheres, depending on what it had available. They are both potentially subject to failure: a possible replacement of this component, therefore, perhaps with an equivalent reinforced spare part, is certainly a good sign. Also check carefully clutch: if it is fruit, to replace it you need to estimate caround 1,200 eurosbetween spare parts and labour. In that case, if it oozes, it’s worth changing the main oil seal as well. In the event of lubrication problems of the fifth and sixth main bearing or the connecting rod of the fifth cylinder, it is better to have the crankshaft rectified by a professional, also providing for the installation of strengthened bushings.

THE OIL MUST BE CLEAR. AND IF THE MACHINE “HIBS”… – Obviously, traces of whitish debris on the cap and on the engine oil dipstick do not bode well. But that shouldn’t immediately make one think of the worst: in fact, it is not said that i cylinders are cracked. however, if the engine tends to overheat quickly the liners may be cracked. In any case, realizing it is neither simple nor immediate: you need theinspection by a specialist. Also pay attention to the chain tensioner guide of the VarioCam, the valve timing adjustment system: it can wear out and break, causing the dispersion of metal debris in the engine oil. However, these are components that are easily available today on the spare parts market – moreover with a quality often superior to those of the original equipment. If the Porsche Boxster 986 “hiccups” under acceleration, the reason may be a mass airflow sensor failure. Lastly, beware of models with too low mileage: they could have remained stationary for too long, with the consequent deterioration of all the rubber seals.

MAKE SURE IT HAS BEEN TREATED WITH CARE – Some experts, feeling that they wear out a little too quickly, suggest replacing the front suspension bushes on your car Porsche Boxster 986 every five years. It’s not a rule, but checking them doesn’t hurt. Just as it is worthwhile to listen carefully during the test drive, making sure that the car does not make strange noises on bumps: if this is not the case, it is not excluded that there could be damage to the coil springs. Instead, they suffer from premature deterioration anti-roll bar links. As with all luxury cars, a service booklet with a history of maintenance interventions without “holes”, perhaps carried out in a workshop authorized by the parent company, certainly constitutes a very important element with a view to a possible purchase. But even more important is rebuilding the recent car history, trying to figure out if it was treated with due attention or not. As far as maintenance is concerned, it is better to rely on expert hands. In this regard, Porsche itself, as part of its programs dedicated to historic models such as the Boxster (which, having passed the age of twenty by Italian law, fully falls into this category), offers discounts on spare parts and on the cost of labour.

HOW MUCH IS IT TODAY? – Although cheaper than its older sister 911, with which it shares a large part of the mechanics, from new the Porsche Boxster 986 it was certainly not a car for everyone. Today things have changed, also thanks to the reduced road tax and insurance costs, in the case of specimens certified as historic vehicles by ASI (Italian Historic Automotoclub). In any case, since it is a sports car with an emblazoned brand, prices are constantly on the rise. For those who know how to “make do”, however, the 2.5 could be the smarter choice: with just over 200 HP it doesn’t stick to the seat, but it’s quite brilliant and can be found for around 20,000 euros. On the other hand, a couple more must be taken into account on average for a 2.7, while prices start at around 25,000 euros for the more powerful – and satisfying in fast driving – S versions. Beware of overly attractive offers: they could hide problems which, to be solved, often require expenses exceeding the value of the car.

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