The ‘Affordable’ Porsche: How the Boxster Became a Collectible
Adam Reason, owner of Reason Porsche in Suffolk, on how ‘budget’ Porsches like the Boxster or Cayman became real collectors’ items and what to look for when buying one
Instead of showcasing or writing about the top end, rare Porsches that fascinate the elite car media, let’s discuss what is on offer and within budget to us, the mere mortals of this world, and explore the pros and cons of ownership.
Firstly, you don’t have to be seen going flat out at a disused airfield with the tail end hanging out, on opposite-lock steering with the rear tyres smoking. You can, like most of us today have to, adhere to the 30mph signs, and then risk a little enthusiasm where the road conditions permit. And let’s be honest, who likes pouring pound after pound’s worth of petrol into the tank? These smaller Porsche models can return over 30mpg.
Now at the age of 50 plus, I have been fortunate enough to feed my passion for the Porsche brand by buying and selling them for around 35 years, and later, in the past couple of years, by opening a specialist Porsche workshop with Porsche factory trained technicians and serious investment in the latest equipment.
Having bought and sold more than 1,000 over the past few decades, you may find it strange to discover that my best fun in these cars has come from some of the more popular, but less written about, humble derivative models, namely the Boxster and later Cayman, in particular, the smaller 2.7L and later 2.9L engines.
Luckily for me, my wife Jill, who runs the business with me, is also a lover of the brand and a keen traveller. Over the past 10 years we have driven thousands of miles through most of central Europe, with only an iPad and international SIM card to plan our routes day by day.
‘Over the past 10 years we have driven thousands of miles through most of central Europe. We always take a Porsche Boxster’
We always take a Porsche Boxster, simply because it has sublime handling, being a mid-engine, together with plenty of power to bite into the twists and turns of the Alps, Pyrenees and Ardeche. With two boots for our luggage and the roof down for best part of three weeks, this is, for us, the best way to experience the culture, food and architecture.
‘The Boxster is practical, fun to drive and provides a great experience for a modest investment. Plus it’s a great way into owning a Porsche and, ignore the critics, this is one of the best performance cars ever built.’
So, what’s it all about? This can read as a bit of a contradiction, as you can step into the world of Porsche ownership for as little as £6,000 for a 2000-2004 model (986) or as much as £60,000 if your pockets are deep enough for the later used models.
These early Boxsters (986s) were the first of the water-cooled engine flat 6s and launched ahead of the new 911s (996), both sharing many of the same parts. It’s fairly well known that these early Boxsters were very instrumental in saving Porsche, which had been struggling with a very limited range of old, air-cooled cars.
Today, the air-cooled cars are still revered by the purist as the ultimate and only Porsche, and have rocketed up in value over the past 20 years. They fetch anywhere between £50,000 and £150,000, rare models even more.
But don’t let that put you off. There were many jibes in the early days when these Boxster 986s were first launched. Envious, ill-informed individuals with no ownership experience, calling it the poor man’s Porsche. As time has gone on and we’re now into its third decade, even the purist has respect for its little sibling.
What you need to know when buying a Porsche Boxster
So, what are the pros and cons? Generally speaking, when these cars reach around 10 years old, the residual value tends to level out. Some of the more exotic, limited-edition 911 Porsche models, like the Turbo and GT3 models, can actually go up in value from new.
But even if you won £10m on the lottery and walked into a dealership to buy one you probably couldn’t because, firstly, you’d need to be on the inner circle of trust and, secondly, have a long-term relationship with the dealership and a history of buying other slightly lesser models. Rolex market their brand in a similar way with their watches.
‘Some of the more exotic, limited-edition 911 Porsche models, like the Turbo and GT3 models, can actually go up in value from new’
Back in the real world, finding one on Autotrader or eBay, Motors or Gumtree is the easy part. We are all looking for the same thing. The newest car with the highest specification and lowest miles at the lowest price. But in the world of Porsche, whatever make, year or model you are looking for, it doesn’t always work that way.
What you have to remember, is that buying a £6,000 Porsche costs the same in parts and labour as a £60,000 Porsche. Just getting the wheels refurbished properly and a good set of tyres will set you back £1,000, and if it needs brake discs and pads, condensers, brake pipes, clutch and major service, the cost can easily run up to £3,000. So service history and old invoices of what’s been done/changed is paramount to your decision.
On the positive side, once you have a well sorted Porsche Boxster, Cayman or 911, the depreciation over the past 15 years has been brilliant. But best of all, you should enjoy a memorable driving experience that will put a smile on your face every time you reach for your Porsche keys.