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Used cars: how to buy a second-hand Porsche Boxster

By Ben Barry (photography by Charlie Magee)

Used Cars

26 February 2013 11:00

Want a Porsche for the least money possible? You want a Boxster. You can snap them up from just £5k now. We’re now onto the third-gen Boxster, and everything from the earliest Mk1s to the earliest Mk2s are on the menu if you’ve got £10k or less to spend.

Guide me through the Mk1 Boxster range

Even those early Mk1s are great cars, but for £5k you’ll be restricted to a 2.5 flat-six engine (201bhp and 181lb ft) and five-speed manual gearbox – nothing else was available. Turn of the century Boxsters were upgraded to 2.7 litres (217bhp and 192lb ft), while the Boxster S (248bhp and 225lb ft) arrived at the same time with 3.2 litres and an extra cog. You’ll pick up a 2003 Boxster S from under £8k.

Is it worth paying extra for a Mk2 Boxster?

Yes, you’re best holding out for a 2004-on, second-generation Boxster. It’s a better all-round car, with a wider track, larger wheels (17s as stock, 18s for the Boxster S), improved safety (a standard head airbag deploys from the top of the door card in the event of a smash) and revised styling: chunkier air intakes, larger rear window and a sleeker front end from which those fried-egg headlamps are banished. Naturally, there’s also an increase in power: 237bhp for the base model, 276bhp for the S.

How much is a 2004 Boxster 2.7?

If you’re brave, 60,000-mile examples can just scrape under £10k, but typically you’ll spend more than that: the 2006-plate 2.7 in the pictures was sourced from Porsche Centre Reading , retailing for £19,700 (thanks in no small part to its 11,000 miles and two-year warranty). You’ll find 3.2-litre S models of similar vintage from £12k with upwards of 50,000 miles.
Any decent Boxster alternatives worth considering?

Porsche Caymans – essentially hardtop Boxsters with a very small power increase – are a tempting alternative, but they were more expensive new and didn’t land until 2005, hence it’s a struggle to find one below £15k. The Boxster, then, is the undisputed bang-for-buck king.

Considering a Boxster? Be aware of these spec secrets…

• Roof mechanism: the cables in the soft-top can rot and require replacement. They cost £40-£50, but factor in a couple of hours’ labour.
• Extra roof lining: 2001 model-year cars received an ‘internal roof’, cutting road noise by up to three decibels. Even the later cars weren’t quiet, so it’s a worthwhile update. And…
• Glass versus plastic windows: original Boxsters got a plastic rear window, but 2003 Mk1 models were upgraded to glass.
• Oil seals: The engine’s rear main oil seal can fail. It’s a £20 part, but a £500 job to fix – it requires the removal of the rear bumper, exhaust, transmission and flywheel, hence it can make sense to live with a small oil leak and change the rear main oil seal when you need to swap the clutch.
• Intermediate shaft shots: the intermediate-shaft bearing can fail, and because the intermediate shaft regulates the timing chains, this can cause pistons and valves to collide with terminal results. You’ll be looking at a £7-8k rebuild.