2003 Porsche Boxster S
2003 Porsche Boxster S. Click image to enlarge

By Jeremy Cato

Since Boxster production began in late 1996, Porsche has documented a number of niggling issues – from clicking noises in the instrument panel to cranky door locks, seat cushion covers that become uneven, cracking oil filler hoses, vibrating rear windows, scratchy clutch pedals, and so on. Yet the fundamentals appear to have remained sound as this mid-engine roadster carries on into its eighth year of production.

Eight years. Wow.

It seems like not so long ago when in 1996 this legendary German carmaker began touting its first all-new Porsche in 18 years. Let’s not forget that Porsche’s recovery in the late 1990s wasn’t so secure when the Boxster arrived.

In fact, in early 1993 Porsche was broke, struggling to survive as an independent maker. But in January of that year, Porsche unveiled a Boxster show car at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. The car wowed the world, was named Best of Show and proved to be a vision of good driving things to come.

When the Boxster arrived as a production model, it joined a trio of new and delightful German roadsters – the other two being BMW’s Z3 and Mercedes-Benz’ SLK. Of these three 1997 models, the Boxster is the most thoroughly dynamic.

This car was and remains a light, agile, responsive, wonderfully balanced example of what smart engineers can do when they set about refining technology that’s already proven to work – and work well.

The Porsche two-seater with a whiff of affordability has always put its emphasis on the kind of driving experience true enthusiasts covet. The critical factor in all this is the amidships location of the flat or boxer-type engine – a water-cooled six-cylinder. This design makes for near-perfect balance and that in turn makes the Boxster a treat to drive.

At the beginning, horsepower was rated at 201. Since then the base Boxster engine has grown in displacement from 2.5 litres to 2.7 and horsepower has jumped to 225 for the base car. A more powerful Boxster S, first introduced for 2000, today delivers 258 horsepower.

Back in 1997 the Boxster was offered with either five-speed manual or the five-speed semi-automatic Tiptronic transmission. The Boxster S has come with a six-speed manual or the five-speed Tiptronic. The manual is the best choice if you’re a driving enthusiast.

From the outset, Porsche officials insisted that the Boxster would be much less expensive to operate than a 911. For instance, using Mobil 1 synthetic oil, the first change was recommended at 25,000 km., plugs and filters were to get changed at 50,000 km. and belts were scheduled for replacement at 200,000 km.

Now that the Boxster has a service history we can see, it’s clear Porsche got the driving dynamics right, but many small things were initially overlooked. There is quite a long list of running improvements to address mostly niggling concerns with the Boxster. Many are documented in “Buyer’s Alerts.” On the other hand, there have been only three safety recalls, none of which appears to be fantastically serious.

If you’re looking to find a bargain Boxster on the used market you’re not likely to have much luck. Prices have held up quite well and owners are generally known to be quite loyal. Indeed, a 1997 Boxster typically holds about 50 per cent of its original price.

By reaching out to a larger audience with a true roadster, Porsche clearly created many, many new fans.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

Connect with Autos.ca