Skip to main content

The Porsche Boxster has long been referred to as a “hairdresser’s car” due to its rounded looks and more subdued performance. However, we would argue that its mid-engine setup and spry handling dynamics make it an avid performer that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Another small sports car that carries a similar stigma is the Mazda Miata. It’s small, cute, and has less power than the Boxster. Does that mean the Porsche Boxster could be a better alternative?

What’s so great about the first-generation Porsche Boxster?

The first-generation Porsche Boxster dubbed the “986 Boxster,” was a great car due to its ability to handle corners well while providing plenty of driving fun. It was never meant to be a car good for straight-line speed. Instead, it was meant to be a “momentum car” that could enter a corner, carry speed through it, and exit with plenty of gusto and agility.

Other small sports cars, like the Mazda Miata and Honda S2000, carried the same ethos. They weren’t fast, but they handled well, making them solid performers on the street and track. However, the 986 Boxster added a little more fun into the equation via more power.

The car was equipped with a mid-mounted 2.5-liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine. It featured dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and a dry-sump lubrication system that allowed it to make 201 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. That’s even more power than the current Mazda Miata for sale today.

A more powerful Boxster model was released for the 2000 model year. That model received a 3.2-liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine that made 250 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque. In addition to the upgraded engine, the Boxster S received a six-speed manual transmission, larger cross-drilled brakes, Carrera wheels, and an upgraded suspension.

This updated version could sprint to 60 mph from a stop in only 5.2 seconds, which should quell any doubts naysayers may have. Keep in mind that it was far quicker in a straight line than any Miata ever produced as well.

Is buying a first-generation Porsche Boxster worth it?

A side view of a blue 986 Porsche Boxster
986 Porsche Boxster | via Getty Images

Although the 986 Porsche Boxster may look enticing enough to buy over a Mazda Miata, it’s important to know the maintenance costs that come with it. Remember that the car is around 25 years old by now, so if you’re looking at a used example that hasn’t been maintained well, prepare to fork out some cash.

Your Mechanic says that it can cost anywhere between $95 to $11,000 and an average of $434 to repair and maintain a 986 Boxster. The repair site listed some of the most common repairs and their estimated costs, including:

  • Door lock actuators: $830
  • Brake master cylinder replacement: $1,174
  • Fuel pressure regulator replacement: $928
  • Power steering pump replacement: $2,051

These are just four of the most common repairs, and it’s easy to see that the parts and labor costs to finish them are pretty high. Some Porsche Boxster owners on the 986 forums reported spending upwards of $2,000 a year to maintain and/or repair their cars. If you’re planning to purchase a 986 Boxster, be prepared to spend some money on parts and labor.

How much does a 986 Boxster cost today?

A rear view of the 986 Porsche Boxster
986 Porsche Boxster | via Getty Images

2004 Toyota MR2 Beats 2004 Porsche Boxster in 1 Big Way

A nationwide search on CarGurus revealed that many 986 Porsche Boxsters sell for anywhere between $6,000 to $28,000, depending on the car’s condition and location. The Boxster S models sell for a higher rate. But considering the type of performance you can get from it, it could be a much better choice than a Mazda Miata.

Not bad for a hairdresser’s car, right?