The Porsche Boxster is a very interesting car to say the least, having a split perception in the eyes of the public. Some view it as its infamous nickname suggests, a “poor man’s Porsche,” while some view it as a fun driver’s car for the purists. The Boxster is also at a crucial chapter in its story right now. With Boxster and Cayman sales remaining dangerously low, Porsche has to decide what to do with its little two seat roadster and they seem to be open to any suggestions.
The story of our humble, little roadster started in the early 1990s, when Porsche was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was a scary time for Porsche to say the least. Sales were falling and Porsche’s front engined line up was beginning to show its age; they needed a new, affordable sports car, fast. Inspired by the early success and demand for the newly introduced Mazda Miata, Porsche began development of the Boxster immediately. The goal was to bring back the days of the legendary Porsche 550 Spyder, which meant Porsche’s new car had to be lightweight, mid-engined, and most importantly, a roadster.
A big problem at the time-and mostly why Porsche was going bankrupt-was Porsche’s inefficient production process at the time – I know, Germans being inefficient, shocking! This flawed formula was what caused Porsche’s costs to rise and their profits to drop; it was slow, expensive, and it had to go. To solve this problem Porsche hired ex-Toyota engineers to completely overhaul their production process. As a result, assembly time dropped from 120 hours to 72 while errors fell by 50%.
This new method also led to the new 996 911 to be essentially co-developed with the “lesser” Boxster. But none the less, Porsche’s mid-engined savior did become a reality, having been unveiled in 1996, 4 years after the initial concept was shown in 1992.
The original Boxster, dubbed the 986 was not very well received by the purists despite it saving the Porsche brand. It was too ugly, too slow, and too cheap, at least, that’s what the purists thought hence its sub $10,000 asking prices today. I own a 1999 986 Boxster, and although it isn’t the fastest car I’ve driven, or the best looking, I find it very hard not to smile when driving up on a canyon road. I learned to love it even more when the top had a leak and I was “stuck” driving my dad’s 911 for the week. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that 911, it was the car that got me to love cars and I will treasure it forever, but on some of those canyon roads, it was just too fast. I didn’t have time to enjoy the breeze or the sound of the engine because all of a sudden, trees and cliffs were approaching me 3 times faster.
That week with the 911 really changed the way I looked at sports cars, especially my Boxster. I was one of those who hated the original Boxster, but after some time, I have learned to love the poor man’s Porsche.
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