Home » The Original Porsche Boxster Is Now A Poor Man’s Toyota MR2 Turbo

The Original Porsche Boxster Is Now A Poor Man’s Toyota MR2 Turbo

Porsche Boxster Mr2 Topshot 2
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Between 1989 and 1998, two popular manufacturers tread new paths in mid-engined sports cars. The Porsche Boxster was a flat-six Porsche for Corvette money, while the Toyota MR2 Turbo brought exotic looks and mid-engined dynamics for less than the cost of a BMW 325i. Both were incredibly desirable, both were brilliant to drive, but there’s no getting over the fact that one was cheaper than the other.

However, values don’t stay constant. Depreciation takes a toll on just about any car, and once the lowest point is reached, appreciation isn’t out of the question. It happened to the aforementioned E30 BMW 3 Series, it happened to muscle cars that were once considered old gas-guzzlers, and it’s been happening to the MR2 Turbo.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Nearly 30 years after the Boxster went on sale, the roles have been reversed, and the Toyota MR2 Turbo is a noticeably more expensive car on the second-hand market. The Porsche is now the poor man’s MR2 Turbo, dealing a direct smack to the face of that one Porsche ad with copy that said, “Honestly now, did you spend your youth dreaming about someday owning a Nissan or a Mitsubishi?” Let’s take a look at two examples in comparable condition to see exactly what sort of price difference we might be looking at.

Mr2 1

Starting out with the older car, here’s a 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo with 41,000 miles on the clock. It’s in remarkable shape, even given the history of a small incident in the 1990s that resulted in the left front fender being resprayed, and it’s bone stock other than the addition of an aftermarket exhaust. It’s the sort of machine that just makes you want to take the T-tops off and go for a rip, and it sold for $24,069 on Bring A Trailer earlier this year.

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Mr2 Interior

Consider this a median example of what we’ve seen over the past few months on Bring A Trailer, with some MR2 Turbos going for thousands more and some MR2 Turbos going for thousands less. Properly nice later cars with revised suspension and 15-inch wheels have gone for around $30,000, while early cars with substantially higher mileage have gone for around $15,000.

Porsche Boxster 1

In contrast, here’s a 1997 Porsche Boxster with 46,000 miles on the clock, ordered in the launch colors of Arctic Silver over Boxster Red. There’s a cultural stereotype in one of those color names. Speaking of spec, this five-speed car has the desirable sports suspension, 17-inch Carrera-look wheels, the upgraded hi-fi system, traction control, a wind deflector, and a six-disc CD changer.

Boxster Interior

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Inner headlight lenses frequently suffer from severe burn-in from bulbs running hot, yet the inner lenses on this one aren’t too bad. Likewise, the front grille trims are still nice and black, the body’s in excellent shape, and all of the interior trim pieces appear intact. The leather isn’t so good, but that’s on par with the comparable MR2. So, what did this thing sell for on Bring A Trailer last month? A mere $14,000. That’s right on the money for an example like this, and $10,000 less than what a comparable MR2 Turbo goes for on Bring A Trailer. So, what makes the MR2 Turbo $10,000 better?

Well, it’s not objective stock performance, because both these cars are surprisingly well-matched. They’re both mid-engined, they’re both small, and they’re both surprisingly comparable on the straights. Using a 1995 Toyota MR2 Turbo, Motor Trend managed to run from zero-to-60 mph in 6.2 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 93.5 mph. The same magazine later ran a 1998 Boxster through testing and completed the zero-to-60 mph sprint in 6.3 seconds and the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds at 93.3 mph. Stock-for-stock, an SW20 MR2 Turbo and a 2.5-liter Boxster are pretty much even in a straight line (the articles aren’t online so I’m referring to my paper copies, which of course I have). Peak cornering grip isn’t quite as close, but it isn’t worlds away either, with Car And Driver managing 0.86 g from a Boxster on 17-inch wheels compared to 0.88 g from an MR2 Turbo on 15-inch wheels. Of course, modern tire compounds and sizing availability skews these figures in 2024, but the Boxster doesn’t have a drastic performance deficit on paper.

Mr2 2

So, if an MR2 Turbo doesn’t perform five figures better than a Boxster, what’s with the value difference? Well, how about rarity? Toyota sold 130,732 SW20 MR2s of all stripes globally compared to Porsche shifting 164,874 first-generation Boxsters. That’s a significant difference, and it grows more significant when you zoom in on North America. Over the course of production, 74,439 original Boxsters came to the U.S. alone, whereas Canada and the USA only got 33,111 SW20 MR2s in turbocharged and naturally-aspirated trims. In short, local supply of original Boxsters massively outstripped local supply of second-generation MR2s, and that’s before we get into owner profiles and common problems.

The MR2 Turbo was an awesome tuner car. It was one of the more affordable forays into new mid-engined car ownership with an MSRP under $25,000, responded well to power mods, and has solid aftermarket support. Unfortunately, cars that make awesome tuning platforms can fall into neglect or even demise as the years and owners pile on. In addition, the third-generation MR2 wasn’t as tuner-friendly or even as quick as the second-generation Turbo car, meaning the MR2 Turbo was a high water mark for the nameplate. That’s a legacy right there.

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Boxster 2

Meanwhile, the Boxster was a genuinely expensive car, costing nigh-on $40,000 when it launched for 1998. That’s not young professional money, that’s empty nester money. Short of chucking in the engine from a 911, there’s not much you can do to drastically increase power output, so it’s not exactly the best tuning platform. As a result, many Boxsters were used sparingly as fairweather second or third cars, meaning it’s pretty easy to find a nice one today. In addition, Porsche continued to improve on the Boxster with the second-generation model, shifting desirability off of the original car. Better selection and competition on the ground typically results in lower pricing.

Finally, there’s a matter of reputation regarding reliability. While the 3S-GTE engine in the MR2 Turbo will still suffer from the usual old car leaks and whatnot, it’s a relatively robust unit. The M96 flat-six engine in the Boxster, on the other hand, has a reputation for intermediate shaft bearing failure and worn variable valve timing chain pads on early five-chain cars. Granted, proactive IMS bearing replacement isn’t the end of the world and can be bundled with clutch replacement to save on overall labor costs, but it’s still something that casts a shadow on the Boxster’s reputation.

Boxster 3

In the end, these are both fantastic cars. I may have actually spent my own money on a Boxster, but I still love the SW20 MR2. I think it looks fantastic, has heaps of character, and is a brilliant example of what Toyota can do when it sets its mind to it. Neither of these cars are bad choices, although it is a bit funny that the Porsche is cheaper than the Toyota. I wonder if in 25 years, four-cylinder 718 Caymans will cost less than stock Toyota GR86s, or if sixth-generation Camaro ZL1s will be worth more than F80 BMW M3s. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

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(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer)

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Lockleaf
Lockleaf
15 days ago

Same thing has happened to Datsun 510s and BMW 2002s. The Datsun was specifically aimed at the 2002 as a budget competitor when it came out. But now you can find 2002 for cheaper in equivalent condition. Might be more expensive to rebuild though?

Otter
Otter
15 days ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

I don’t think those 2002s rusted as eagerly as early Datsuns. The first new car I remember was our 510 wagon, (the burned-in pattern from the black vinyl seats is probably still visible on the backs of my thighs) but that thing rusted so fast in Ohio that it only lasted a few years.

Narinder Mehta
Narinder Mehta
16 days ago

Kswaps and them Texas highway boys have made the mr2 the desired mid engine car.

Tuner culture is fed up with high prices too. You’ll probably see a few sidelined cars, like the gt3000, bump in price soon too.

AMGx2
AMGx2
16 days ago

Old cheap Porsches are still expensive to repair and have less or no image left.

Among the Porsche enthusiasts you aren’t welcomed like “Wow you just got yourself a cheap slow near 30 year old Porsche which was bought by hairdressers and semi-successful women back in the days”. But in the JDM circle you would be among the god-like status of GT34s, AE86s and Eclipses.

Even a 718 4 cylinder Boxster, which drives great, is just a stupid Porsche with a 4 cylinder in it. Nothing water cooled. Nothing 6 cylinder. Nothing flat boxer. Nothing nice exhaust note.

If you want cool old “semi-affordable” Porsche get a 964 or 993. Perhaps a 987 with the 3.2 or 3.4 engine and manual.

Even if you drive a 928 but in a bad state then I just feel sorry for you ; you were warned the 928 would eat your bank account for lunch and still you went for it and now you ended up with the ugly duckling of the family and hardly any money left to keep it running properly.

My 2 harsh cents.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Not gonna argue with the overall point, I just have to point out the 718 is a boxer 4, and the 993 is currently the most expensive 911 by a solid margin.

AMGx2
AMGx2
16 days ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

I stand corrected on the boxer 4. Still I feel it does a disservice to fans since it feels like I now drive a car with the same engine as a Impreza or BRZ. It’s not as cool, even the 3 liter inline 4 is just ‘cooler’ than the much newer turbod H4.

I meant affordable compared to the classics from the 70s and 80s which are now more or less priceless.

But it shows that nearly any 911 is just so much more valuable than an old Boxster. Maybe the 996 is the exception because of its myriad of tech issues with the engine (IMS). Though most of those should have been replaced already. So actually the 996 might be the best choice now for its lower price. But resale value is controlled by sentiment and the fact that we know the 996 would be fine ; if the buyer doesn’t want a 996 then the prices will remain low.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Absolutely, for me the charm of an entry-level Porsche sports car is the great-sounding naturally aspirated engine, and a turbocharged flat 4 offers neither quality.

Disclaimer: I own a 986, and I love it, but I certainly didn’t buy it to impress anybody, in fact I believe I can only afford it due to its poor image.

996’s can be had for a little more than a Boxster S if you’re willing to put up with AWD, Tiptronic, cabrio or any combination of these 3 features, but unfortunately a C2 manual coupe is still double the value of a Boxster in similar condition, being that the Boxster is designed from the ground up as a roadster, and carries its soft top with more poise than the 4-seat 911. If I was twice as rich I’d have a 996, no question about it.

Truth is, I was cross-shopping my Boxster with the Z3, to which the Boxster is superior in all but power (even storage, the frunk is deep enough to fit a couple large duffel bags in front of the upright spare tire, and the shallow rear trunk fits all my groceries with ease), the BRZ, whose insurance premium is more than the payment due to the buying demographic, and the S2000, which fetches double the price or more. This decision only existed because the Miata is too vulnerable to rust. The Boxster is a happy little accident that I stumbled upon at the end of a long elimination round of more desirable cars, and it’s fantastic.

Last edited 16 days ago by Ricardo Mercio
Lockleaf
Lockleaf
15 days ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

I hate convertibles, but I have recently found myself quite enjoying the looks of the first gen Cayman. I’ve never cared about Porsches so this has been a bizarre change for me. Then I recently realized that many of the key measurements between a vintage Jeep Wagoneer and a first gen Cayenne are pretty close, causing me to begin considering Project Cayennero. Leave Cayenne floor and firewall (plus all drivetrain etc) and maybe keep the seats etc, just reskin the thing with the Wagoneer body. So my first Porsche might be 2/3 Cayenne, 1/3 Kaiser?

I’m pretty far in to doing this already with Tahoe and a Travelall, so why not do it again?! See Project Tallhoe (TraveALL and taHOE) on youtube if interested.

Last edited 15 days ago by Lockleaf
Dug Deep
Dug Deep
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

More reason than ever to get the Porsche. If I’m not nerdy enough for the nerdiest nerds, then fuck ’em.

AMGx2
AMGx2
16 days ago
Reply to  Dug Deep

You gonna crash their fancy Posh-Porsche parties with a rusty entry Boxster?

Millermatic
Millermatic
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Nope. Because with a galvanized body… it won’t be rusty.

Dug Deep
Dug Deep
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Its what I live for

AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago
Reply to  Dug Deep

Your life is super interesting. How was your last Posh-Porsche party?

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
15 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

How to tell me you’ve never been to a PCA event without telling me you’ve never been to a PCA event.

It’s not like that at all. The more the merrier. That’s Lamborghini or Ferrari club stuff. Porsches (the two door cars) are for nerds that like their cars more than they like your all-important “image.” I drank at a brewery down a quarter mile dirt road last Saturday with my region. The cars were dirty. We were not concerned with our image.

-Signed, VP of a PCA region

AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago
Reply to  Max Poodling

No PCA here.
Porsches (the two door cars) are for nerds that like their cars more…”
Poor Cayenne and Panamera owners. No access (pun intended) to your 2-door club. Confirms the image!

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
11 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

You caught me. It’s all a plot to exclude people who bought the wrong car from the same brand, and we look down at them. A sexist snob might even call them cars for hairdressers and semi-successful women, but we’re better than that here.

AMGx2
AMGx2
11 days ago
Reply to  Max Poodling

I knew it. I’ve reported this behavior to the Hairdressers Of America (HOA) association and will advice them to upgrade to a real Porsche with 2 doors and a Flat 6 and two ones in the model name.

Millermatic
Millermatic
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Huh… you’re the first person I’ve heard mentioning “hair dressers and semi-successful women.” Sort of a trashy comment on your part.

My 2 cents.

(And 2 more… the 928 S4 is a fantastic looking car)

AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago
Reply to  Millermatic

A dozen years ago I helped someone who desperately wanted a 928 and indeed I also steered him towards a later S4 instead of the earlier S. The GTS (with 350hp) was too rare here to find. We searched in Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France to find a good one. If the car was good, it wasn’t an S4. If it was an S4, it was used as a chicken run (not literally).

The dashboard would be terrible. Knobs would be missing. Engine bay looked as if it was last looked after about 17 years ago. Terrible. Very hard to find a reasonable car for a reasonable price. Sure there were concourse state cars, but those would be, back then, well over $35k with a lot of mileage on it. The problem with the 928 is that it was an expensive car so it had expensive parts and the cars are rare so not much junkyard replacements available or they come at a premium. I didn’t like this model much more than (any) 911 – it was something like a youth dream to have a 928 for him. I saw a dozen cars throughout 2 years. In the end when I wasn’t there to help he found one, did a test-drive and the transmission SEIZED in the middle of a busy intersection. It didn’t got out of drive, it didn’t go into neutral, it had to be put on a flatbed causing a ton of fuss. That cured him forever going after an older (classic) 928. On one hand too bad, but I think it would have become a money pit for him. And while he’d be proud of owning one, in this part of the world old “cheap” Porsches are frowned upon. No PCA “vibes” here.

Eury
Eury
16 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

When I owned my 996 C4 Cab (the least desirable config of the 996), my experience was exactly opposite of what you describe. Porsche people were very welcoming when I went to Porsche events. I didn’t feel like a second class citizen at all.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
15 days ago
Reply to  Eury

Same with me. When I bought my first Boxster S, I joined the local Porsche Club of America. Everyone was incredibly welcoming. We had people with turbos and GT3’s and these folks were so down to earth. They helped show me some of the basics on my car and the tech talks were really cool. The outings are a blast too. Driving the wine country and then a dinner at the end of a good twisty drive. They were also always asking us to come out for the monthly HPDE days at the nearby tracks.

Last edited 15 days ago by EastbayLoc
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
15 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Old cheap Porsches are still expensive to repair and have less or no image left.”

If you’re buying it just to enjoy driving a fun manual mid-engine car and can afford the maintenance and repair, I don’t see the issue.

Yeah they’re more expensive to repair than a Toyota, but they’re not Ferrari or Lambo levels of expensive.

Oh the “Porsche Enthusiasts” won’t welcome me… WAAAAAHHH… I don’t care.

Oh the Boxster is “slow”? Well it’s still more than fast enough to be fun. Being fast only matters if I’m competing on the track.

But in the JDM circle you would be among the god-like status of GT34s, AE86s and Eclipses.”

I’ve observed some of those JDM circles. NOT being in those circle-jerks is actually viewed as a good thing by some.

“Even a 718 4 cylinder Boxster, which drives great, is just a stupid Porsche with a 4 cylinder in it.”

But actually, it’s more in spirit of the original Porsches from the 1950s… which were all 4 cylinder. No it doesn’t sound as nice as a 6 or a V8, but it’s far from terrible. And the 718 has more power and even the slowest base model still does 0-60 in around 5 seconds… way faster than many more famous Porsches of the past such as the 911SC.

Essentially your criticism comes down to lack of snob appeal.

But if you’re not a snob, that isn’t a problem.

AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago

I hit some nerves, didn’t I ?

Last edited 12 days ago by AMGx2
Max Poodling
Max Poodling
11 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

You’ve missed the point of this website and commentariat. This website’s mission is Pro Car. Not anti car.

You’re coming at people who have invested an incredible amount of time and money into their hobby car, or have memories of them, saying things like “I feel sorry for you..” and you’re surprised people are mad? There is a line between reasonable debate and criticism and pissing in someone’s Wheaties just because you… I dunno, want to be a jerk for some reason? See all of the responses above if you’re unclear as to which side your comments fell on.

GTFO with that noise and please grow up. Go back to the lighting site if you want to argue with tweens. Be better.

This has nothing to do with Porsches and everything to do with treating people decently.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
10 days ago
Reply to  AMGx2

Not really. I don’t even own a Porsche. But I understand the appeal and why some do. And in my view, you don’t get it.

AMGx2
AMGx2
10 days ago

I understand the appeal. Just this discussed 2.5 entry level model is not worth it for $14k. That’s almost 25% of it’s original price, after 26 years. You can get better looking cars (interior) for less.

Why pay $14k if there are PLENTY of nicer cars out there. A 2.7 , a 3.2 , a 3.4. A first generation Boxster does not feel as a classic car even though it is 26 years old. It doesn’t feel like a 964, a 944, a 928 -at all-.

The low mileage is nice, but also means that someone didn’t drive with that car a lot. Did it get an oil change every year? Else everything might be gunked up. Porsche parts & service isn’t cheap. Indy or not. So you’re not buying a cheap well running car ; with that low mileage the IMS might never have been replaced. If you don’t replace it (the original) then you have a $14k timebomb.

Do note I have no problems with the nicer engined Boxsters with the flat 6. They have more power so you don’t start to think “If only I had spend 4000 more on the larger engine” and the sound is just better (than the 718s).

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
16 days ago

A Porsche isn’t a poor man’s anything LOL

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
16 days ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

You’ll be a poor man eventually if you own one

Duane Cannon
Duane Cannon
15 days ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

Not always. I bought a 2006 triple black Boxster S six years ago with 14,000 miles on it for $19,000. I’ve driven it over 40,000 miles with very little cost outside of a battery, tires (on my 3rd set), an electrical module for the car’s front section ($1300), and normal maintenance that I do myself. 280 hp mid engine fun on southern Oregon roller coaster mountain roads. Are some Porsches costly? You bet. But not all.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
15 days ago
Reply to  Duane Cannon

Very nice!

AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago
Reply to  Duane Cannon

But that car is far from the mentioned 2.5 986. It’s so much faster, a bit better looking if I might say so and thus much more valuable and desirable.

$14k for a 2.5 986 with that red interior? It feel it’s about 50% too much.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
16 days ago

There’s also nostalgic value in both especially the MR2…what a great design…well, they both are- now I wish I got that Porsche for $14K- what a deal!

The World of Vee
The World of Vee
16 days ago

K swap the Boxster, problem solved 🙂

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
16 days ago

To me, it makes sense the MR2 would be more expensive than a comparable Boxster. Aside from the relative rarity of a Boxster vs an MR2 turbo, my impression was that many first-generation Boxster buyers really wanted a 911 but settled for a Boxster. I never got the impression that MR2 owners viewed their purchases as “settling”, even if it was a relatively low priced sports car. It would make sense that collector car buyers would be willing to pay more for their dream car than the car they settled for. I also presume the older age of new Boxster buyers plays into the current price disparity. Buyers in the market for a collector vehicle whose dream car is a ’90s MR2 are much more likely to be in their peak earning years than buyers of first-generation Boxsters, many of whom are retired and have less disposable income.

Last edited 16 days ago by Stig's Cousin
AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

This. Few ppl don’t want a 911 and buy a Boxster instead. They buy the Boxster because they can’t afford the 911. So they’ll jump into a 911 (closed or convertible) when they could and for good reason.

One thing I learned a pistonhead is that in the end you always want to have a faster car, a better car, the better engine, even if you don’t need that (at all). You have to be almost psychopathically cold like a Vulcan to say (and believe) “I have a 2.5 220 hp Boxster and while I totally dig its handling – I don’t need more horsepower or acceleration”.

Yet I feel it would be very odd for someone in an MR2 turbo to say … “ahhh if I only had that Celica AWD 2.0 turbo”. They’re different cars. I might be wrong.

Duane Cannon
Duane Cannon
16 days ago

It’s rarity and exclusivity that drive up the price of the Toyota. They’re now seen as an investment. Some of us drive the shit out of our Boxsters. No one is going to drive the shit out of that Toyota. Apple/orange.

Pappa P
Pappa P
16 days ago
Reply to  Duane Cannon

If I get my hands on an MR2 turbo, I will drive the shit out of it, and it’s on my list.
Ist gen MR2s were a popular autocross car, and the second gen was even more capable, but rare.
If it’s a concours example I could understand preserving that, but at 25k or under this is a car to be enjoyed.

AMGx2
AMGx2
12 days ago
Reply to  Duane Cannon

I think that is odd. You claim that any rare car would become a garage queen? I can understand that for some low quantity Ferrari (250 GTO) or something fragile from the 60s, prone to rust etc with Very Expensive replacement parts.

While -I- wouldn’t wear down a MR2 Turbo in a year, I’d definitely drive plenty with it, not caring if that would negatively influence the value.

With a pre 2000s Boxster it would not even cross my mind to take it slow. The value of those things will go down anyway so better drive it like your stole it while it’s still running 🙂

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
16 days ago

I am going to shoot myself in the foot super bad here:

The Z3 2.8/3.0 are the poor man’s S2000. Except better. Much better

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
16 days ago

Brave take, and correct. There’s a bit of a disconnect between our collective love of analog feel and great sounding engines and our love of JDM cars. The S2000 has EPAS, a cardinal sin in a Bush-era car, and the super high-revving engine is the crown jewel on an otherwise just pretty good roadster platform.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
16 days ago

Had a 986 Boxster for a couple of years. Mine was a facelift 2.7 so it had a glove compartment (the earlier cars don’t) as well as the extra storage compartment behind the seats, a wind deflector, climate and a few other choice goodies. Fucking fantastic cars, and they’ll never be worth a ton of money because they made so many of them.

Lardo
Lardo
16 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

yep. had both the first and the next version with the glove box. the second was so much better. I also gained PASM or whatever they call it. after spinning the first one I liked the stability.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
16 days ago

I have experience in both of these. Currently have an “04 Boxster S with the 6 spd. A lot of fun and all the performance I can use on roads or highways. I have to take it to the track to really push it and not worry about other drivers/highway patrol etc.

Growing up, my dad first had an ’87 MR2 Supercharged and then a ’92 MR2 Turbo. Like the Boxster, they were both amazing in the turns which is where the fun is. The Supercharged felt like a crazy go-kart whereas the Turbo felt more under control, even though it had more power and was faster.

There are plenty of resources out there for each if you would like to learn how to do your own wrenching and a lot of club members for each who are more than willing to show you. When I got my Boxster, I found a great indy shop and had the IMS taken care of with LN’s Solution and did the clutch while they were at it. Since then I have found another shop that can work on it and is very affordable.

Sometime it’s hard to guess which model of which car will start to appreciate in cost. Some are easier to guess than others due to history and rarity. But the truth is even though I have loved owning and driving some fun cars over the years, there are very few I would go out and pay a premium for now. I’m not a collector and nostalgia only goes so far with me.

Last edited 16 days ago by EastbayLoc
Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
16 days ago

I had an SW20 MR2 for nine years, non-turbo (we didn’t get the Turbo over here. It was badged GTi-16 in the UK, which seemed an odd choice for a mid-engined sports car.

I loved that car. Really grippy in the dry, really slidey in the wet, great steering, comfy, pop-up lights, big frunk and it looked fantastic.

I had the head gasket go, just an external oil leak, but it was a big bill. I had a go at doing it myself, but my back couldn’t cope with leaning over the trunk to get to the engine.

Finding a good one in the UK is near impossible now. Rust, crashes and some horrible mods.

I’ve driven a few Caymans, and at normal speeds they just feel like a car. They don’t seem to come alive until you’re going fast enough to risk your licence in the UK, which is faster than I want to go for something that’s supposed to be fun.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
16 days ago

It’s kind of funny how the MR2 Spyder was originally accused of looking like a Boxster clone. But over the years the Boxster, in my opinion anyway, has only come to look more and more like the Spyder.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
16 days ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

The whole Boxster clone thing was just strange. Apart from being mid-engined open two-seaters, the similarities are? The shape of the air inlets on the rear fenders, being available in silver with red seats and door trims and, if you squint very hard, the shape of the headlights? The modelling and graphics are otherwise completely different, given the package restraints.

Last edited 16 days ago by SonOfLP500
ADDvanced
ADDvanced
16 days ago

The issue with the boxster is a lot of the parts have massive porsche tax, and finding someone to service them, again, you’re paying porsche tech labor.

End of the day, it’s still sort of a janky melted blob of an early 00s car, with a plasticy interior. I think the styling of the MR2 holds up a lot better, both on the outside and in the interior.

And then there’s the fact that lots of MR2s were tuned/blown up/crashed, vs Boxsters which have always been sort of expensive weekend cars (miata ish), so there is a ton of them available, which drives down prices further.

Probably pretty easy to wind up underwater on a boxster imho.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
16 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal
Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
16 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Criminally underrated show.

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
15 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Porsches are not cheap to maintain, but the key, I’ve found, to keeping things (somewhat) reasonable with parts is to find the OEM part when possible.

The camshaft position sensor on my 997 went out. When I searched the part number online:
Porsche branded: $115
Bosch branded: $28
It’s the same part (it’s patented), but that logo is pretty darn expensive.

The 986/996/987/997 cars (the early water-cooled cars, 1998-2012ish) are also quite easy to work on yourself. Oil changes are easy and can be done in your driveway. Saves you that $175+/hr labor if you take it to a dealer.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
15 days ago
Reply to  Max Poodling

Nah key is to cross reference part numbers for VW parts 🙂 I have a 77 911S, master cylinder went out. Porsche master cylinder was like $690. VW part was $65. Same part, lmao

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
16 days ago

It’s about the feels. Thinking about driving an MR2 makes me imagine I’m in this awesome La Roux video. Thinking about driving a Boxster makes me imagine I’m in a Powerpoint presentation about why it’s actually as good as a 911. Horribly unfair to what the Boxster actually is, I’m sure, but you’re arguing with the twelve-year old version of me here.

Last edited 16 days ago by bomberoKevino
Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
16 days ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

and also, compared to a Porsche the Mr2 is bulletproof 😀

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
16 days ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Well played.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
15 days ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Indeed!

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
16 days ago

These are sooooo tempting, a very solid bang for you buck BUT I don’t know if I could justify the maintenances costs of a mid-engine modern Porsche that’s only got 200 hp-and the later 250 hp S is rare-ish and goes for a lot more money.

Even ignoring the IMS issue, I can tell you from Cayenne ownership that nearly every repair on a Porsche will cost x1.5 – 4x the cost of the same service on a “normal” car; and thanks to being mid engine these don’t seem very serviceable for the home mechanic. For example-and admittedly not sure how the Boxster compares on service time and oil capacity, but a mechanic buddy told me his shop charges iirc like $350+ for an oil change on a 996 and that’s just the start. Getting your own scanner goes a long ways to save some basic money at the mechanic, I’ve had several times where my Cayenne has popped CELs that never came back after they were reset. Obvs don’t go to the dealer, find a local indie, mine is like $60/hour cheaper than the dealer and does great work. So torn on this in many ways my Cayenne has been better than expected but it’s also had more than it’s fair share of weird stupid problems that cost more than expected and I can’t help but feel that the Boxster would be similar-with the added worry of IMS now vs IMS later.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
16 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

Ah that’s better than I expected actually so maybe I’m raising alarm bells for no reason-though i will say Porsche parts are still stupid expensive a lot of things.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
16 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

To sort of add to my point above (I’ve been idling shopping 2nd gen 987 Caymans) saw the Cayman S linked below for sale with a recent service receipt for spark plugs, oil change, air and pollen filters adding up to a $1126 after tax! And this is at the indie Porsche mechanic I like-iirc they charge $165/hour. So to your point if a person is comfortable wrenching on their Boxster themselves they can save a lot-but also the maintenance is quite spendy if you aren’t going to be turning wrenches yourself. Possibility I’m out of touch with what this basic servicing costs as I try to do most of that stuff myself.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1625021581571103/?ref=search&referral_code=null&referral_story_type=post&tracking=browse_serp%3A602ee002-9362-47cc-9407-8d0952a08e93

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
15 days ago

You are very right. Looks like that’s $695 in labor (4.2hrs) and $325ish in materials. The spark plugs on that car aren’t that easy to get to, so I guess I can see it. But you could also just do it yourself and NOT pay that money.

Do it. My 997 still makes me grin the same way I did the first time I drove it.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
15 days ago
Reply to  Max Poodling

My problem is I don’t currently have anywhere to work on stuff so I’m stuck taking it to the mechanic for pretty much everything. My point with the receipt and anecdote about my Cayenne was that for those of us who can’t wrench or simply don’t want too, this article may be presenting a tad too rosy a picture of buying an old Boxster. That being said I imagine this blog’s audience tends towards being at least somewhat comfortable with busted knuckles and a wrench so maybe I’m unduly worrying.

Good to hear re: the 997, honestly for all my frustrations with trying to fix weird problems on my Cayenne it’s still only made me want a “real” Porsche more-like if they can get a 5300 lb SUV to have that good of driving dynamics…

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
15 days ago

100% agreed. My Midwest Porsche dealer is $175/hr, and I know that’s dirt cheap for 1st party service. My indy is $125 or so. I do most of my service with jack stands and ramps. If it needs a lift, it probably requires more than just a YouTube walkthrough, so it goes to one of them.

It’s not cheap, and it’s definitely cliche, but every time I drive my butt confirms that there really is no substitute.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
15 days ago
Reply to  Max Poodling

Yeah the dealer nearest me told me their shop rate is $215/hour which makes $165 at the indie sound great. Seattle has gotten damnably expensive even the budget mechanic we take my wife’s car to is $105/ hour now.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
16 days ago

Every time I try to talk myself into getting a 981 Boxster as a weekend car I remember that Miatas exist for these specific reasons. They’re essentially 90% of the fun and maybe 10% of the trouble, at most. Miata might not be a particularly exciting or unique answer, but there’s a reason why it’s always the answer.

And with NDs creeping into the 15-20 range? That’s the move. And I say this as a Parsh die hard who’s first stop after winning the lottery would be the local Porsche dealership…

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
16 days ago

I wish I was short enough to fit in an ND, they seem like the perfect answer to most of my sports car wants. And probably as fast as the 981 Boxster (maybe even faster?) in a straight line and likely just as entertaining in the corners. I like the Boxster’s styling better but again I don’t know if that’s worth it. Honestly would need to try to drive them both and see what if anything the Miata gives up in feel/vibe..

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
16 days ago

The thing about any of the Miatas is that the interior is Small with a capital S. I rented an ND Miata on Turo a couple of years ago and was not pleasantly surprised at how much tighter the driver’s seat area is in comparison to my 986 Boxster. It’s both narrower in width and shorter in height. There’s a reason why club racers who build Spec Miatas almost always drop the driver’s side floor when installing a racing seat. But if you fit in a Miata, they’re quite nice!

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
16 days ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

I’m only about 5’9 so I fit in them just fine!

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
16 days ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

Ya and I’m 6’4″ I dont think it’s happening for me 🙁

Wuzilla
Wuzilla
16 days ago

I think the rarity argument is helped along by the demographic of the first buyers of these cars. It is not hard to find a Boxster with under 100k miles on it. Despite the “enthusiasts” who cruise all winter with the top down, most convertibles, especially roadsters, are purchased as second/third cars; and generally, only the affluent or retirees can afford to buy/store cars that get driven barely 25% of the year. (Additional debate-argument here as to why so many of these suffer from IMS failures.) So not only are there more for sale; there are more that simply survived. This can even be seen in NA Miatas – all the 30 year old garage queens that are waiting to become classics are going to have to wait a bit longer since there are SO MANY out there. (How many I-Know-What-I-Got $15k+ ads have you seen for 1.6 Miatas with 40k?)

Then look at the MR2. Sure it’s almost a roadster with its T-tops, but I’m pretty sure the primary buyer was the same demographic as your BRZ/FRS customer (or at that time, your Camaro/Mustang shopper). I bet a lot of these were daily-ed by younger drivers, and even though reliability isn’t an issue here, a 30+ year old daily driven Corolla does not age well. And with the BRZ/FRS example, have you seen how beat up those are already looking on the used-car market?

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
16 days ago
Reply to  Wuzilla

These are all undoubtedly factors, and I’ve definitely seen $15-$20,000 NA Miatas listed. For months. Because as great of a car as it is there’s a lot of them out there, and while some have undoubtedly fallen victim to the Tuner Wars over the years, it’s not like you can get them to make BIG POWA on stock internals or anything.

But if you look at S2000s? Dear god. You’ll be hard pressed to find any that are unmodified and/or don’t have an accident on their record. They’ve been tooned and driven into the ground and it’s one of the reasons why the market on nice ones got so out of hand for a while. They’re cool, but they’re not $30,000+ cool.

The Toyobarus are a good call out as well. Those things get absolutely abused. I don’t usually browse listings for them but I can tell you that nearly every one I encounter in the wild has an obnoxious aftermarket exhaust, a spoiler, an assortment of stickers for parts manufacturers on the sides, and either a Brazzers license plate cover or an “ass, grass, or cash, no one rides free!” sticker on the window next to the driver’s Instagram handle.

If a car is popular with Tooners many of them are going to suffer cruel fates. That’s also why people are paying six goddamn figures for MK4 Supras.

Wuzilla
Wuzilla
16 days ago

Good point on the S2000’s!

Funny, I was at tuner-boy age when those came out, and the only people I knew buying them were tuner kids that had a little more daddy money. Maybe that explains how all of those got ragged out? It does seem like those didn’t get the same garage-queen treatment as all of the other roadsters.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
15 days ago
Reply to  Wuzilla

Honestly I think it was people buying them after they’d depreciated-about 2012ish I was shopping S2000s online and they weren’t too hard to find cleanish and unmodified in the $8K-$15K range, I’m guessing that 2nd-4th owner are the ones who ruined them since then (sadly).

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
16 days ago

Attrition rate really is a huge factor, “drift tax” doesn’t come from people wanting to drift, it comes from drifters thinning the herd backwards (as in the good shells get caged and turned into drift cars, leaving only the rust buckets and the time capsules). The majority of the “tuner” cars are suffering from this, especially the rear-drive ones. In truth, I wanted a 180SX or MR2, but market forces ended up placing me in a Boxster (I’m actually very excited about it, it’s a new-to-me 50k-mile 1998 manual in Arena red that I’m learning about it as I go, hit me up for a Boxster wrench-fest, Tom, I’m in the Detroit area).

I grew up as a hardcore JDM fan but Euro cars are so much more accessible if you have the wrenching skills to avoid dealer/specialist service fees that it’s a no-brainer between a naturally aspirated flat 6 and a turbocharged i4 in terms of sound, response, and just overall fun. My last 3 cars have been an A4 1.8T because I couldn’t afford to maintain a WRX, a BMW M235i because I couldn’t afford a Skyline/300ZX/Supra/Soarer/Chaser, and now a Boxster because I can’t swing an MR2/180SX/RX7/S2000. Consistently, the only Japanese cars that are as cheap as the German alternatives are the FWD ones and the RX8, because everyone’s horrified of the Renesis.

Last edited 16 days ago by Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
16 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

I didn’t know about Kaleidoscope, but now it’s on my calendar!

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
16 days ago

I had a GF that had a triple black Boxster, and it was one of the most disappointing cars I’ve ever driven. After all the hype I had read it felt stiff, like it didn’t want to play, it gripped well but wasn’t very engaging and the flat six just whined loudly and didn’t sound good at all. Not much torque either, so it wasn’t especially quick and I had to rev the hell out of it to get anything out of it. Also, I felt like a pretentious douchy poser driving it. My Alfa 164 S’s Busso engine was leagues ahead. MR2 all the way, every day.

The Cayman S I drove another time felt completely unrelated and offered an infinitely better driving experience however. Hard to believe they were related.

D-dub
D-dub
16 days ago

Finally, there’s a matter of reputation regarding reliability

That’s the whole post right there.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
16 days ago

That damn IMS bearing really hangs over all Porsches of this era like a black cloud. You can gamble if you want, as it only goes bad in a small handful of the cars…but if it does go bad your engine is kaput and you’re not paying $15,000 car prices to have it replaced.

It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s worth doing for peace of mind. For god knows what reason it doesn’t seem to be public knowledge either. Real Porschephiles know what’s up, but not all Boxsters wind up in our hands. A lot of them wind up with the “wait…I can get a Porsche for HOW much?” crowd’s hands and get beat within an inch of their lives.

Finding nice examples of 981s is getting a lot harder, and a lot of the coveted grandma/retirement spec ones that are out there are auto-tragics. That being said the cost seems to reflect the additional trouble the Porsches are likely to be. Also…did the MR2 have an auto option? I would guess not given that Japanese manufacturers still detest offering automatics in fun cars to this day, but I’m not sure.

Manuals are more valuable than autos secondhand, and I’d assume that the large number of Tiptronics that are out there pull the top end of the Boxster market down with them to an extent. I can understand choosing PDK over stick, but I can’t understand choosing a Tiptronic over it.

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
17 days ago

This price differential allows one to buy the Boxster S. Even so, a really nice 986 S is more common than a really nice MR2 Turbo, so it’s still cheaper.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
17 days ago

Anyone who chooses a red leather interior on a car they intend to keep, should be hit with a stick, hard, until they recant such desires absolutely.

Just look at that mess…

Chronometric
Chronometric
16 days ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

A re-dye in a dark ox blood would do wonders for it.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
16 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

It certainly needs at least a re-dye. Agree. Some form of cordovan, ox blood, chestnut… That sort of thing.

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
16 days ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Meh, leather just takes a little extra work. My 10 year old red leather looks as good as the day I bought it, but I clean and condition it a couple of times a year. A couple hours of work a year can make a world of difference.

V10omous
V10omous
17 days ago

I wonder if in 25 years, four-cylinder 718 Caymans will cost less than stock Toyota GR86s, or if sixth-generation Camaro ZL1s will be worth more than F80 BMW M3s.

I suspect you won’t need to wait 25 years for either of those to happen.

Honestly, don’t the Camaro and M3 cost about the same new anyways?

Edit: Yes they do, $76K for the BMW and $72K for the Camaro to start.

Last edited 17 days ago by V10omous
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