Regular readers will have sorted that I’ve bought a Porsche. It was not a move that I took lightly, nor was it a spur of the moment thing predicated by my recent sojourn to California to spend 3.5 glorious days in Porsche heaven. Nor was it related to the 50th anniversary of the 911, which car journalists everywhere seem to be squeezing the absolute life out of. The fact is, I’ve always, always wanted a Porsche, and I’ve been a fan of the Boxster since the first one I ever saw – a 1997 model in Orient Red metallic with Savanna Beige leather. I was at our local German Car Show with my Dad, who was struck by this particular car. We must have talked to the owner for over 20 minutes about his Boxster and what a great driver it was. I was smitten, but filed the thought away for future reference should I find myself in the right place at the right time and in the right mood. I don’t know if I’m presently in the right place or the right time, but I am definitely in the mood.
It all started about the time that I found myself in need of a larger car to replace the Kia Optima Hybrid. For those who don’t recall, I am one of the lucky few Northern Virginia residents fortunate enough to be grandfathered under the HOV lane hybrid exemption on Interstate 66 – my primary commuting route to Washington, D.C. – having obtained the plate prior to July 1, 2011. Our needs were pretty straightforward: hybrid (for HOV), room for 6-7, and, well, that was about it. There is exactly one car that qualifies per the VA DOT list of HOV-approved hybrids: the Toyota Highlander. Now the Highlander is a very capable vehicle, and I’m actually enjoying sitting up high in commuting traffic so I at least have a fighting chance of seeing farther ahead than the back of the SUV in front of me. It has bunwarmers, NAV, and all-wheel drive, and is, well, one heck of an appliance. But it also amplified that as a bona-fide car guy there was a distinct lack of any enthusiast steel in the fleet. And I wanted a stick shift.
I started casually considering my next car move several months ago. One of the side benefits of looking for cars to write about for TTS is that I tend to stay up to date on available cars that appeal to me on eBay and Craigslist, although it seems that whenever I start to get a little serious about actually buying something there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING good available. So I looked at a handful of NA and NB Miatas, a manual transmission Mercedes SLK, and even a few Z3s. As I previously covered, I also looked at a couple of Boxsters. Miatas still represent, to my mind, the best bang for your sports car buck, but I’ve been there and done that. A lot. So I decided that I really wanted to go a different direction. The SLK was a nice car with that Mercedes vault-like solidity, but it was a little boring. It would be a great car for your friend to get. I liked the Z3 a lot, and I’m on the “love it” side of its polarizing looks – but my wife is firmly on the other side. And I didn’t love it. The Boxster seemed to tick all of the boxes: looks, power, noise, handling, and it had something that none of the others did: a Porsche rest on the hood. Did I mention that I’ve always wanted a Porsche?
As I really started to look in earnest for a Boxster, it seemed like all of the good examples had been put away for the winter. All the Boxsters I could find were auction rats or cars that were clearly ridden hard and put away soaked to the skin. I scraped the bottom of the internet barrel looking for anything I could find. I also hit specialist sites like Pelican Parts and The Samba. Nothing. Then last week it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen anything on CL, Cars.com, or Auto Trader Online from any of the local Porsche dealers (of which this area has about five), so I started poking around their websites on the remote chance there would be anything in the same stratosphere as my purchasing power. The first two that I looked at yielded a whole lot of 2008-2014 Boxsters. Gorgeous cars but nowhere near to what I could afford. I’d just about given up hope on the search for a while when I scrolled past a standout: a Speed Yellow 2000 986 Boxster with a hair over 70,000 miles, new clutch, and a full service history. Intrigued, I made my way to the dealer after work just to see…
What I found was a remarkably clean car in a color that I wouldn’t have necessarily specced on a car were I ordering it from the factory, but which boldly stood out on a lot splattered in black, blue, grey, and silver cars, with the occasional red. Although wet, the paint had a great shine and an honesty about it: a few nicks here and there with touchups on larger rock chips. Inside the car looked nearly factory new, with only a few wear spots on the driver’s door panel betraying the car’s real age. I found a salesman and started the dance.
On the road I was met with the smoothest Boxster I’d driven yet. In fact, in reminded me a lot of the new 991 that I’d just spent about 900 miles driving the tires off. It growled just right, shifted just right, and smelled like a showroom-new car. I was immediately smitten, but tried my best not to show my cards up front. Both trunks were spotless, the original toolkit never having been unwrapped and a like-new Porsche-brand car cover in the rear. What’s more, as the sales manager came over to recite his part of the script as per new car dealer ritual, he told me that they had 2 file folders with every book and service records documenting everything that had ever happened to the car – including the critical air/oil separator, rear main seal, and intermediate shaft bearing services. Not to mention oil changes every 3,000 miles and other bits and bobs demonstrative of an OCD previous owner such as a new Boxster badge to replace the cracked one on the rear trunklid. The car had been traded-in at their sister Audi dealer by the original owner, and they’d snatched it up. Now on this cold and rainy Tuesday before Thanksgiving they were ready to deal – and while I paid more than I would have for those Boxster dogs I’d looked at previously, I am confident that I walked away with a fabulous deal on this car with the added credibility that comes with buying at a main dealer. There will be upside if I ever go to sell it, assuming it doesn’t explode catastrophically. Which it might, but we’ll see….
And that brings me to today. I’m three days into ownership and not having the slightest pang of buyer’s remorse as of yet – which is fairly unusual for me. As soon as the rain stopped (was that only yesterday??) I had the top down despite the cold and hit the back roads. And as I got to mastering the downshifts and gained more confidence squeezing the go pedal – the better the car got. Then came the moment of truth: my wife had a go. I took her for an orientation ride, and speed demon that she is she developed a grin at the intake growl from the motor sitting just a few inches behind us. When she took the helm she actually bested my driving by matching nearly every shift perfectly right from the start. We got back to the house where she was going to pick up her car for errands, and asked me to grab her keys and sunglasses and told me she’d see me later. Win. Stay tuned to see how it goes, but here at the beginning I am brimming with cautious optimism!