9WERKS - The best Porsche 986 Boxster upgrades (2023)

9WERKS - The best Porsche 986 Boxster upgrades (1)By Tim Pitt6 months ago

Here’s how to improve your 986 Boxster, including mods for performance and everyday comfort

From Outlaw 356s to 935-look flatnose 911s, Porsche enthusiasts have always loved to modify their cars. Today, the original 986 Boxster feels ripe for a few well-chosen upgrades – and here’s why.

For starters, this ‘car that saved the company’ was sold new from 1996 to 2004, which makes even the youngest example old enough to buy cigarettes or get a tattoo. The 986 also seems to be rounding the bottom of its depreciation curve, with prices starting from just £3,500. Even those on a tight budget can thus afford to make a few modifications.

Style is subjective – and we think the Boxster’s clean lines and ‘fried eggs’ have aged rather well – so we haven’t looked at cosmetic upgrades here. Instead, we focus on relatively simple and affordable ways to enhance performance and daily-driving comfort. Find yourself a project Boxster in the 9WERKS Marketplace and let us know how you get on.


The 986 was launched with a 204hp 2.5-litre flat-six, upgraded to 2.7 litres and 220hp from 2001. That same year, the 250hp 3.2-litre Boxster S also made its debut. A facelift in 2003 saw outputs lifted to 225hp and 258hp respectively. Buyers had a choice of manual or Tiptronic auto transmissions.

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A modest kerb weight of 1,250-1,320kg means this Porsche still feels quick today. Zero to 62mph times (with a manual ’box) start at 6.9 seconds for a 2.5, dropping to 5.7 seconds for a late-model S. However, there is always room for improvement in terms of how the Boxster goes, steers and stops.


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Cat bypass pipes

These stainless steel pipes from Dansk Performance bypass the Boxster’s catalytic converter to reduce back-pressure in the exhaust system. The result is more performance and a fruitier sound. Available from Heritage Parts Centre UK, bypass pipes for the earlier 2.5-litre engine cost £382.96, while those for the 2.7- and 3.2-litre cars are £482.95.

Underdrive pulley

A clever modification that will protect your car’s steering system and add a claimed 5-7hp. What’s not to like? The underdrive pulley from TuneRS costs $205 (£171) and includes a drive belt and new bolt. It drives the power steering, alternator and air conditioning (if fitted), taking the strain off the pump. Made of aluminium with an anodised gold finish, it also looks seriously trick.

Sports suspension

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How low can you go? Actually, don’t answer that, as slamming your Boxster into the weeds will ruin its handling. Nonetheless, a fresh set of suspension could improve your car’s stance and sharpen up its handling. For a simple upgrade on a budget Boxster, we recommend Eibach Pro-Kit lowering springs, which drop the car by 25mm and cost £397.96. For more serious drivers, the KW Variant 1 coilover kit will set you back £1,658.95. Both are available from Heritage Parts Centre.

Deep oil sump

Talking of serious drivers, if you plan to take your Boxster on the track, fitting a deeper sump will help prevent oil starvation and protect the engine. It’s especially recommended if you fit track-spec tyres, due to the higher cornering forces you will generate. The deep sump kit from Chicago-based LN Engineering has a larger capacity and improved baffles, and retails at $949 (£790).

Quick-shift kit

If your Boxster has a five- or six-speed manual gearbox, this is a near-essential upgrade. It will make the shift action shorter, snappier and more satisfying – leaving you to hone your heel-and-toe technique. This quick-shift kit is made by B&M Racing and Performance, an OEM parts supplier to Porsche, and shortens the lever travel by 35 percent. Sold by Super Tweaks, it retails at £285.96.

De-snorkel the air intake

Here’s a modification you can make for free. Behind the 986 Boxster’s side air intakes – located just aft of the doors – is a snorkel that was added to reduce intake noise. Unscrew the vent panel that covers each intake and you should be able to pull out this black rubber pipe by hand. An easy win, and one that improves the visceral sounds of your Porsche.

Low-temperature thermostat

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Bore scoring, where the engine’s cylinder walls suffer from abrasion, can lead to piston slap and excessive oil consumption. It seems to be more of an issue for the later 987 Boxster/Cayman, along with 996 and 997 versions of the 911. However, prevention is better than cure, and this low-temperature thermostat from Heritage Parts Centre opens at 71°C, rather than the standard 83°C, to keep the flat-six cooler. At £54.95, it’s a lot cheaper than an engine rebuild.

Braided brake lines

Braided brake lines look better than your crusty old pipework, but they also have a useful function: unlike standard rubber hoses, these stainless steel parts won’t expand or stretch under pressure and with repeated use. The result is shorter stopping distances and improved pedal feel. A full set of four brake lines will cost you £94.96 from Heritage Parts Centre.


You might feel the Boxster is fast enough, and your priority is making it easier to live with. If so, the following upgrades add some comfort and modernity to this soon-to-be-classic sports car. Again, our focus is on relatively quick mods that could transform your driving experience.

HID headlamps

Drive any older car at night and the first thing you’ll notice is how poor the headlights are. Lighting technology has come a long way, even since the 986 was new. The Bosch Litronic High Intensity Discharge (HID) kit from Pelican Parts isn’t cheap ($5,431.75 – or £4,524 in old money), but it includes a self-levelling feature and gives your Boxster a clear-lens facelift. A bright idea.

987 Boxster seats

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The seats from the subsequent 987 Boxster and Cayman (2004-2012) don’t look vastly different – they’re still Porsche’s traditional ‘tombstone’ style – but they are lighter and much more comfortable. You also sit lower, placing you (literally) closer to the action. The later chairs fit onto the 986’s existing runners, although you will need to modify the wiring to make the electrical adjustment and seat heaters work. We found several pairs of 987 seats on eBay, priced from around £400.

GT3 centre console

Another ‘OEM+’ Porsche hack for the Boxster is to fit a 996 GT3 centre console. This does away with the storage trays behind the gear lever, creating more knee-room for taller drivers. It also cleans up the look of the 986’s interior. Pelican Parts offers a GT3-style centre console delete kit for $520.25 (£433) – and includes a fitting guide on its website.

PCCM infotainment

Many readers will be familiar with the brilliant Porsche Classic Communication Management Plus system by now, but it’s worth remembering that it fits the 986. Its 7.0-inch touchscreen display brings DAB radio, Bluetooth and navigation to your Boxster, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. Priced at £1,417.02 from the Porsche Classic Online Shop, can you really live without it?

SmartTop roof controller

Unlike many convertibles with an electric top, the Boxster won’t allow you to retract its roof while driving. Indeed, the mechanism will only work with the car at a standstill and the handbrake on. To get around this inconvenient quirk, the SmartTop plug-in module allows you to raise or lower the roof at speeds of up to 25mph – and permits one-touch operation, too. It costs around $250 (£208) from Pelican Parts.

Floor mats

(Video) Building a 1 of 1 Porsche 986 Boxster 25th Anniversary Edition!

Finally, why not tidy up the interior of your Boxster with a set of perfectly fitted, factory-spec floor mats? Also from Porsche Classic, these mats come in a range of original (and now rather retro) colours, including Nephrite Green and Cinnamon Brown. They’re priced at £108.05 for the set.

Don't forget you can get up to 10% off your basket at Heritage Parts Centre by entering the code '9WERKS10' at the checkout.


What are the common problems with Porsche Boxster 986? ›

Problems with the MAF on the Boxster 986 are relatively common and affect how much fuel is delivered to the engine, leading to a loss of power. It may be that the sensor just needs a clean, as oil and dirt can affect its performance, or that it needs to be replaced.

What is the most desirable Porsche Boxster? ›

Porsche Boxster '981' (2012–2016)

Last year, the second generation Spyder was introduced. Boasting 370bhp and less mass than the standard car, it shares many parts with the brilliant Cayman GT4 and is arguably the most desirable Boxster yet made.

Will the Porsche Boxster 986 become a classic? ›

The Porsche Boxster 986 is a mid-engine convertible manufactured by Porsche AG from 1996 to 2004, truly a future classic.

Which generation Boxster is best? ›

If you're looking for a low purchase price and you're willing to pay high maintenance costs, then the first two generations of the Boxster offer the best value. If you want something a little more modern and insist on six cylinders, then the third-generation 981 is in the sweet spot.

Are Porsche Boxsters going up in value? ›

First, you must know that the price range of a brand-new 2022 718 Boxster is approximately $73,000 to $108,000. Porsches are historically known for maintaining an excellent resale value (some even gain more than they lose), but the market being what it is, the value of pre-owned Boxsters is now higher than ever.

What year Boxster is best? ›

When the Porsche Boxster came out in 1996, it had some problems through the next few years as all new vehicles experience. Then after a couple of redesigns, Porsche would find their sweet spot in 2012, which is the best year for the Porsche Boxster.

What is the least desirable Porsche? ›

For most, the original Panamera will go down in history as the ugliest Porsche ever made.

Which Porsche is most collectible? ›

The most valuable Porsche 911s are low-production high-performance or track-oriented classic models like the 964 Carrera RS, 993 GT2 or the newer 2010 911 Sport Classic. Low odometer readings and like-new condition also command a significant premium.

How long do Porsche Boxster engines last? ›

The other day, when a popular blog mentioned that the Porsche Boxster was judged to be the car most likely to last 200,000 miles I did a double take.

What year Boxster does not have IMS problems? ›

Boxsters, Caymans and 911s from MY1997 to MY2008 are all at risk of IMS bearing failure, with the exception of Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models. However, the type of bearings used changed over the period and some were more prone to failure than others.

What year Boxster has IMS problems? ›

The Porsche 911 and Porsche Boxster from model year 1997 to 2005 have a high failure rate of the intermediate shaft bearing also known as an IMS bearing. Its design and construction lead to premature failure of the bearing, which results in catastrophic engine failure.

Is a Porsche Boxster collectible? ›

The earliest first-generation 986-series Boxsters are old enough to be considered collector cars, but average prices remain in used-car territory. Nice examples are available in the $10,000-$20,000 range while high-mileage Boxsters trade for less than $10,000.

What to look out for when buying a Boxster? ›

Key issues to look at include:
  • Service history. An obvious point perhaps, as every car needs to be well looked after and regularly serviced, but it is particularly important for Porsches. ...
  • Mileage. ...
  • Bodywork. ...
  • Coil springs. ...
  • RMS. ...
  • IMS failure. ...
  • Tyre wear. ...
  • Transmission.

What engine problems do Porsche Boxsters have? ›

These years of Boxsters have a notorious reputation for IMS-bearing failure. It's important to understand that failure of the IMS bearing can cause catastrophic engine damage. In older Boxsters, a new engine can cost as much as the car is worth. So much so that engine replacement is a common remedy in these situations.

What does Boxster stand for? ›

The word Boxster derives from a merging of its Boxer engine type (so-called because each pair of pistons move in and out like a boxer's gloves) and that punchy roadster design.

Which Porsche holds its value best? ›

Of particular note in the 2021 Best Resale Value Awards is the Macan again taking the compact luxury SUV segment. Its larger Cayenne sibling finishes second in the large luxury SUV category. The 911 also posts a strong third among sports cars.

Can you daily a Porsche Boxster? ›

Inside, the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 exhibits many major qualities of a daily driver. While 911 counterparts can cause cramps in old bodies here and there, the 718 Boxster is so much more amicable on long hauls and day-to-day drives.

Is the Cayman faster than the Boxster? ›

Both the Porsche 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster have impressive performance capabilities, as both have a maximum power of 300 horsepower, the ability to go 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, and a top track speed of 170 mph. The main difference between these two Porsche 718 models is their body type.

What is the funnest Porsche to drive? ›

The 718 Spyder qualifies as the most fun Porsche ever. The name Porsche almost always leads people to the 911. A very capable and complete sports car that's synonymous with the brand.

How much is an oil change for a Porsche Boxster? ›

The average cost for a Porsche Boxster oil change is between $516 and $546. Labor costs are estimated between $49 and $62 while parts are priced between $467 and $484. This range does not include taxes and fees, and does not factor in your specific model year or unique location. Related repairs may also be needed.

How much should I pay for a used Porsche Boxster? ›

Prices for a used Porsche Boxster currently range from $6,988 to $97,228, with vehicle mileage ranging from 6,661 to 164,950.

What is considered a poor man's Porsche? ›

Time magazine featured a cover story about the car, and Motor Trend named the Corvair as the 1960 “Car of the Year.” Americans bought them due to their unique style, and affordable price, well under $3,000. They even earned the nickname, “The Poor Man's Porsche.”

What is the most unreliable Porsche? ›

What are the most unreliable Porsche cars?
  • Porsche Boxster.
  • Porsche 911.

What is the rarest Porsche color? ›

Porsche Apricot Beige is probably one of the rarest of Porsche beiges. By the late 1980s, beige was as out of vogue as bellbottoms, so there were few takers during the two model years in which the color was offered. Most Porschephiles have never seen a 928, a 964, or a G-body Carrera in this color.

Which Porsche is a future classic? ›

The 997: becoming a Porsche Classic

“It's a really good thing,” says Maxime. “When we were buying this car, we were like, OK – the 997 will be a big future classic.” There are no big plans to do much to the 997 GT2 immediately, adds Maxime, apart from one thing.

What is the most popular color for a Porsche? ›

One of the most iconic and sought-after Porsche colors is Guards Red. Few colors are as appealing, for a performance car as a shade of classic, bright red, which is why this shade of bright red was available to a lot of Porsche models, among which the 930, 928, 924, 944, 968, 959, and others.

What is the most famous Porsche color? ›

Boldly standing out in the Porsche colour palette, Guards Red has stood the test of time. It first appeared on the legendary Porsche 911 (930) Turbo in 1975. It's a shade that highlights every line of the magnificent bodywork of the 930, accentuating its head-turning silhouette.

How much does it cost to rebuild a Porsche Boxster engine? ›

The average cost has been about $10,000 to remove, overhaul and replace one of these motors.

At what mileage do Porsches have problems? ›

They are built to perform, yes, but they are built to perform for many years. Porsche 911 engine mileage can be rated at 100,000 miles and 10 years. Like any vehicle, Porsche 911s last longer with proper and routine maintenance and care. Most Porsche vehicles will last you up to the 150,000-mile marker and beyond.

What is the mpg of a 986 Boxsters? ›

986 3.2 S 34.9MPG average, Sainsburies 95RON.

Is 986 Boxster reliable? ›

A 986 Boxster is a great and inexpensive way into Porsche ownership: most are dependable, fun and cheap to run, but maintenance costs can hit you if the rare engine issues strike. To minimise the risk, buy one with full (especially recent) service history.

What are the most common problems with Porsche Boxster? ›

The two main issues the Boxster and 996 faced at the start of the 2000s were IMS (intermediate shaft) bearing failures and RMS (rear main seal) issues. Contrary to popular belief, both of these issues, although certainly prelevant in both models, were not a guaranteed issue in models of this era.

What years did Porsche have engine problems? ›

The Porsche 911 and Porsche Boxster from model year 1997 to 2005 have a high failure rate of the intermediate shaft bearing also known as an IMS bearing. Its design and construction lead to premature failure of the bearing, which results in catastrophic engine failure.

Which Boxsters have IMS issues? ›


Early Porsche 911 (996 & 997) Boxster (987), and Cayman (987) experience a common failure of the IMS (Intermediate Main Shaft) bearing, which can cause a failure of the motor resulting in a costly and extensive repair.

Can a Porsche Boxster be a daily driver? ›

Sensible vehicles. They'll get you where you need to go. They're economical and safe.

What year did Porsche fix the IMS bearing problem? ›

Happily, there is a simple solution!

Porsche upgraded the IMS along with the design of the IMS bearings on 2007 model year cars onwards. For the Porsche engines fitted from 1998 to 2006/07, there have been many aftermarket solutions to address the issue We have fitted and assessed many of these solutions.


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