The Porsche Boxster
is a mid-engine roadster built by Porsche. The
first-generation Boxster (the 986) was introduced in late 1996 as a 1997 model.
It was Porsche's smallest and least expensive vehicle, taking over from the
front-engine Porsche 968, which was discontinued in 1995.
Early Boxster models
were powered by a 2.5 litre flat six-cylinder engine. In 2000, the new Boxster S
variant was introduced with a larger 3.2 litre motor, and the base model
received a more powerful 2.7 litre engine. In 2003, styling and engine output
was upgraded on both variants.
In 2005, updates were substantial enough that
Porsche internally identified the Boxster as a new 987 model. The 987s were more
powerful than the 986s; engine output increased yet further in 2007, when both
Boxster models received the motors from the corresponding Porsche Cayman
Production of the 986 began at the former Porsche 928 facility in Stuttgart,
Germany in 1996. Valmet also manufactures Boxsters under contract to Porsche at
a facility in Uusikaupunki, Finland. The Boxster was Porsche's biggest volume
seller from its introduction in model year 1997 until the company introduced the
Cayenne utility vehicle in model year 2003.
The Boxster's name is a combination of the word "boxer", referring to the
vehicle's horizontally-opposed or "boxer" engine, and the word "roadster",
referring to the vehicle's convertible top.
The styling of the Boxster is owed to former "Style Porsche" department head
Harm Lagaay. His Boxster design study and the production Boxster stimulated a
commercial turnaround for Porsche after several difficult years of falling
||2.5 L H6 (1997-1999)
2.7 L H6 (2000-2004)
3.2 L H6 (2000-2004)
||1997-2002: 95.2 in (2418 mm)
2003-04: 95.1 in (2416 mm)
||1997-2002: 171.0 in (4343 mm)
2003-04: 170.1 in (4321 mm)
||70.1 in (1781 mm)
||50.8 in (1290 mm)
The first generation of the Boxster whose visual appearance was heavily
inspired by the Porsche Spyder and Speedster as well as the 550 Spyder. The
Boxster was released ahead of the release of its big brother, the 996 model 911.
Through consultation with Toyota, Porsche greatly decreased the cost of
manufacture, and introduced large scale sharing of components between its
models. Indeed, the Boxster has the exact same bonnet and front wings as the
996, and shares several other components. Its original 2.5L M96 engine is the
same basic design as the original 3.2L M96 engine used in the 996; these were
the first water-cooled engines employed in a rear-engine Porsche. It's widely
seen that the combination of the new Boxster/911 styling and the reduced build
costs through component sharing that saved Porsche from becoming owned by
another car company.
The M96 is used in all 986/987 Boxsters, and most of the 996/997 range
(except the GT3/GT2 and Turbo, which are based on the GT1 racing engine). The
M96 is a horizontally opposed ("flat") six-cylinder layout. This layout is one
of only four engine layouts that have a natural engine balance, the others being
the straight six (as used in many of BMW's engines); the flat 12; and the V12.
This gives the engine a characteristic smoothness throughout the rev range. The
flat six is also an inherently flat engine, so can be mounted lower in the car.
Its placement immediately ahead of the rear axle offers the Boxster excellent
balance, a low center of gravity, and renowned neutral handling characteristics.
The M96 engine design had well documented problems during early production
(leading to a small, but significant number of engine failures due to cracked
piston linings) however since a minor redesign in 2003 these problems are
reported to have been resolved.
Boxster 986 Model History:
- 2.7L 217 bhp (162 kW)
- 3.2L 250 bhp (186 kW) Boxster S introduced
- 2.7L 228 bhp (168 kW)
- 3.2L 258 bhp (190 kW)
- 3.2L 264 bhp (194 kW) Boxster S 550 Spyder 50th Anniversary Edition
limited to 1953 cars
The model received a minor facelift in 2003. The plastic rear window was
replaced by a glass window. Porsche installed a different exhaust pipe and
modified air intake. In addition, the often disliked orange "fried egg" front
indicators were replaced with clear glass indicators, and the rear light cluster
was also changed from red to clear.
550 Spyder 50th Anniversary Edition
In 2004 the 550 Spyder 50th Anniversary Edition was released, a
production run of just 1953 cars. The Anniversary Edition cars are
all painted GT Silver Metallic, the same color as the car show
version of the Carrera GT supercar, and had unique cocoa brown full
leather interior as standard, with grey natural leather as a no-cost
option. Each car also received special interior paintwork, high-end
BOSE sound system, two-tone grey and silver 18" Carrera wheels
(unpainted as another zero-cost option), 5 mm (0.2 in) wheel
spacers, the Boxster S sport exhaust, the 030 option lower sports
suspension, and a plate on the center console piece commonly known
as the "batwing" showing the production number. On American market
cars the rear turn signals were red, whereas they remained clear for
the rest of the world.
50th Anniversary 550 Porsche Boxter
The second generation of the Boxster (internally known as the 987) made its
debut at the 2004 Paris Motor Show alongside the new 911 (997). The car became
available for model year 2005.
||2.7 L flat-6 (2005-)
3.2 L flat-6 (2005-2006)
3.4 L flat-6 (2007-)
||95.1 in (2415.5 mm)
||2005-08: 171.6 in (4359 mm)
2009-: 172.0 in (4369 mm)
||2005-08: 70.9 in (1801 mm)
2009-: 71.5 in (1816 mm)
||51.0 in (1295 mm)
||3,130 lb (1,420 kg)
||16.9 US gal (64.0 L)
In appearance the car remains very similar to the previous generation. The
most obvious styling change is to the headlights, which now have a profile
similar to those of the Carrera GT, Porsche's mid engine supercar. The intake
vents on the sides of the Boxster are now larger, with more pronounced
horizontal slats and are coloured metallic silver, irrespective of the paint
colour on the rest of the car. The wheel arches have been enlarged to allow
wheels up to 19 inches in diameter, a first for the Boxster series. The most
significant updates from the 986 series are in the interior, with a more
prominent circular theme evident in the instrument cluster and cooling vents.
Porsche claims that the 987 Boxster shares only 20% of its components with its
predecessor, despite their being almost identical from the outside. The base
engine is a 2.7 L 176 kW (240 hp) flat-6, with the Boxster S getting a 3.2 L
206 kW (280 hp) engine. The Cayman series is derived from the 987.
For the 2007 model year the base Boxster received a revised engine featuring
VarioCam Plus to provide a 5 hp boost (245 hp; the same as the Cayman). The
Boxster S engine was upgraded from 3.2L to 3.4L, resulting in the production of
15 more hp (295 hp; the same as the Cayman S). These upgrades made the Boxster
series and the Cayman series equivalent in terms of horsepower. (In terms of bhp/tonne
the Boxster scores better because of its lighter weight.)
Boxster 987 Model History:
- 2.7L 240 bhp (176 kW)
- 3.2L 280 bhp (206 kW) Boxster S
- 2.7L 245 bhp
- 3.4L 295 bhp Boxster S
In 1998, after a year of marketplace acceptance in the United States, the
original Boxster was the recipient of many awards, including those listed:
- Car & Driver – One of the 10 Best Cars of 1997
- Automobile – Automobile of the Year
- Motor – 1997 Performance Car of the Year
- Autocar – Best Roadster in the World
- Motorweek – 1997 Drivers Choice for Best Sports Car
- The Philadelphia Inquirer – Best Sports Car of the Decade
- Newsweek – One of the Best New Products of 1997
- BusinessWeek – One of the Best New Products of 1997
- American Marketing Association – Best New Product of 1997
- Automobile Journalists of Canada – 1997 Car of the Year
- Automobile Journalists of Canada – Best Design of 1997
The Boxster has been on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list
eight times, from 1998 through 2003 and 2006 through 2007.
The Boxster S (986s) was rated as one of the top ten Porsches of all time by
- "Into the Sunshine: 2005 Porsche Boxster Revealed", an article in the "News"
section on page four of the 10 May 2004 issue of AutoWeek
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Comments, Questions & Answers
Another superb car from Porsche