Porsche Boxster 986 (1996 – 2004) Review

Porsche Boxster 986 (1996 – 2004) At A Glance


+Enthusiasts regard it as a seriously good drive.

-Standard model is a bit underpowered. Engine is hard to get at. Serious bore liner problem. Avoid used but unused Boxsters.

Times were difficult for Porsche at the start of the 1990s. While sales of the 911 were ticking over, the lack of an entry-level model was hurting the company. The 924 had been discontinued in 1988, while sales of the 944 ended in 1991 to make way for the 968 - a front-engined straight-four that looked too much like a 924 to win over the purists.

To make things worse, smaller cheaper sports cars like the Toyota MR2 and Mazda MX-5 were going great guns. They'd proven to sports car fans hit by the recession that you didn’t need to spend Porsche money to enjoy driving thrills, leaving the German company hung out to dry - very much a one-trick pony and a symbol of 1980s excess.

What Porsche needed was a cheaper, more accessible Porsche that built on the 911’s attributes was needed, as opposed to a front-engined GT. What it needed was the Porsche Boxster. Revealed at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show as a concept, with production cars following in November 1996.

Powered by an air-cooled 2.5-litre flat-six, it maintained Porsche’s characteristic boxer growl and punchy performance. The cabin was beautifully finished and well-engineered. But above all, the Boxster was a tremendous car to drive, with limpet-like grip, terrific steering and a surprisingly compliant ride. These days, we think the Boxster is very much one to watch.

Ask Honest John

Where's the best place to sell my 2003 Porsche Boxster?

"I have acquired a 53 plate 2.5-litre Porsche Boxster with 120,000 miles. It has an MoT and runs well but is in desperate need of some TLC. Do you know where I could achieve the best price for it?"
If you are looking to sell a vehicle then generally speaking you will get the best price by selling the car privately, as opposed to trading in or using an online car buyer. It also may be worth trying to sell the car through a Porsche owners club or group, as buyers here will generally have a better knowledge of the vehicle and an appreciation of its value. Also the more buyers that see the car for sale the more likely you are to get the best price.
Answered by David Ross

Will my 1999 Porsche Boxster 2.5-litre ever become a classic?

"Will my 1999 Porsche Boxster 2.5-litre ever become a classic?"
Early Boxsters are well on the way to modern classic status. Most insurers will put them on a classics policy and there are already enthusiast clubs for them. See also: https://classics.honestjohn.co.uk/news/comment/2016-11/happy-birthday-porsche-boxster/
Answered by Keith Moody

Can you offer me some advice on buying a Porsche Boxster 986?

"I'm considering buying a Porsche Boxster 986. I'd like some advice on what to expect. I've been told by a current owner that if the engine hasn't blown after about 35,000 miles, then it will be okay."
Which Boxster you buy will depend largely on your budget. The range was constantly updated throughout the car's lifetime so the younger the car, the better the spec (and build quality). Early cars suffered from cracking in the cylinder bores while some engine's also suffered from the failure of the intermediate shaft bearing. But the most common weak spot of these cars is oil leaking past the rear main oil seal. This results in a drip and slow oil leakage but isn't terminal.
Answered by Keith Moody
More Questions

What does a Porsche Boxster 986 (1996 – 2004) cost?