Porsche Boxster 986 History (1996-2004)

If you’re in a happy position to be thinking about getting a Porsche Boxster 986, I hope this post will help you! I have gathered in this post the entire Porsche Boxster 986 history in its over 8-year journey, including all model versions and their most significant features and differences. For more information about the colors of the Porsche 986, please see my post of Porsche Boxster 986 colors. Thanks if you’ll leave a comment on how well I did this ?! I also added a table of contents below to get you straight to the right point:

Porsche 986 Boxster 2.5 starts journey (1996-1999)

The first versions of the long-awaited Porsche Boxster, the V-Series Boxster 2.5, rolled out in August 1996 from Porsche’s factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany. The aim was originally to start in June 1996, but due to production problems, the actual 986 Boxster 2.5 production did not start until August.

Porsche Boxster 986 History

The first 2.5 version of the Porsche 986 Boxster is identified from the front by the amber color of the lower part of the headlights and the two air intakes in the front bumper. The Boxster is longer, wider and stiffer than its then big brother, the 993 generation of the 911. With the upcoming big brother, the 996 generation of the 911, the Boxster shares the same headlights, front lid and front fenders. The distinguishing factor is the 996 wide air intake in the front spoiler.

Porsche Boxster 2.5 rear corner

From behind you can identify the Porsche 986 Boxster 2.5 from the plastic rear window, the amber turn signals and the oval exhaust pipe. The Boxster has a small rear wing that deploys automatically at 120 km/h (75 mph) to reduce lift by up to 30 %. When the speed drops below 80 km/h (50 mph), the wing goes down back into place. For the bodyshell Porsche provided a 10-year warranty against rust perforation due to the use of galvanized steel.

Porsche 986 Boxster 2.5 top down

I think this top down image gives a good idea of the functionality of the Porsche Boxster 986. Boxster’s power soft top rises in less than 15 seconds. There are the roll bars behind the seats and between them is an optional wind deflector to reduce the airflow. There are two, front and rear, luggage compartments with a reasonable combined capacity of 260 litres. The petrol tank has a capacity of 57 liters and the spare wheel is space-saving in the current style. The standard steering wheel of the Boxster 2.5 is a 4-spoke.

Porsche Boxster 986 rims M396

Alternatively, the Boxster 986 has 16-inch rims with 205/55 tyres on the front and 225/50 on the rear, or popular 17-inch rims (M396) shown in the picture above with 205/50 tyres on the front and 255/40 tyres on the rear. After a long time for the first mid-engined Porsche, these tyres fit perfectly and together with the low boxer engine, they give Boxster a great weight distribution and a real sports car vibe. Whoever has a Boxster, they know ?.

Porsche Boxster 986 2.5 interior

The Boxster 2.5 has either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed ZF Tiptronic S automatic gearbox, manually operated from the steering wheel if required. The new 2.5 liter water-cooled six-cylinder boxer with more than 200 horsepower (150 kW), accelerates a 1,250-kilograms (2,755 lb) car at its best from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds. The same engine, albeit in a 3.4-liter version, would also be used in the new 911 while finishing the air-cooled engines in the Porsche.

Porsche Boxster 986 2.5 instrument cluster

The interior of the Porsche Boxster 986 and the seats from Recaro have been praised, but not the small buttons. The Porsche 986 and 996 share the same instrument panel and the basic look of the instrument cluster is the same, although it’s a couple of gauges wider in the 996. It was a surprise to me that 40% of the 996 parts came from Boxster. The comprehensive equipment list includes among other things a distance adjustable steering wheel, power steering, double front airbags and ABS combined with praised brakes.

Porsche 986 Boxster hardtop

Boxster options include the 993 inherited Automatic Brake Differential (ABD) traction control system, a removable hardtop and a stiffer sport chassis (M030). Boxster’s options list is long, which meant that almost every car has a slightly different configuration. The equipment has also been sold as combined equipment packages such as Classic and Sport.

The model year of the Porsche Boxster 986 can be easily checked from the 10th digit of the serial number (VIN). The V-series actually refers to the 1997 model series. Porsche’s model year is not the same as the calendar year, as the models of the coming year are traditionally started to manufacture and sell already in the previous year. However, there are also some of the Boxsters of the previous T-series, which are obviously manufactured before August 1996.

The 1998 W-series and the 1999 X-series are very similar to the previous T- and V-series: the same engine, the same transmissions and the same design.

Significant new options for the model year 1998 include the Aerokit (XAA), which includes front and rear spoilers and side skirts and 18-inch wheels with 225/40 tires on the front and 265/35 tires on the rear. The navigation system (M662) is new and there is a Trend package on the equipment package list.

The 1999 model year’s options list includes Speedster cover behind the seats and Litronic xenon lights (M601) with clear lenses. Typical for Porsche, continuous small developments have been made on the engine, gearbox, chassis and interior all the time and also in the middle of the model year.

The most important thing in the Porsche Boxster 986 history for the Finns ?? was the start of Boxster’s production in Uusikaupunki in September 1997. From W-series onwards, Finnish cars are identified by the 11th digit of the VIN. It’s U like Uusikaupunki in Finland instead of Stuttgart’s S.

Porsche 986 Boxster 2.7 replaces 2.5 (1999-2002)

Porsche Boxster 2.7

The performance of the Porsche Boxster 986 began to lag behind its competitors. It was time to upgrade the well-served 2.5-liter engine with the new, more powerful and longer stroke 2.7-liter Boxster engine with 220 horsepower (162 kW). At the same time, the problems caused by the porous cylinder blocks of the previous engine remained in history, which were eliminated by improving the casting process. The gearbox options in the Boxster 2.7 are the same as in 2.5, but they got new type designations due to improvements. Externally, the 986 Boxster 2.7 looks like Boxster 2.5. Inside the side airbags are standard and the plastic feeling has been reduced. The fuel tank is a larger 64-liter. Alcantara trim is available on the options list.

Porsche Boxster S 3.2 becomes a top model (1999-2002)

Porsche Boxster S 3.2

Porsche didn’t want to lag behind BMW’s M-models, and the 3.2-liter Boxster S 3.2 became the most powerful model in the Boxster. Not only were the new ameliorations in the Boxsters S 3.2 left to the engine level, but also the gearbox, the interior and the bodywork got their share. From the front, you can identify the 986 Boxster S 3.2 from the middle air intake in front of the third radiator and the titanium molding that circulates around the windshield. Please note that the lower part of the headlight may be bright or amber according to the options.

Porsche 986 Boxster S 3.2 rear

From the rear, the Porsche Boxster 986 S (on the left) is identified by a double exhaust pipe and naturally by the S mark. The increased performance of the Boxster S is matched by the more powerful brakes with red aluminum brake calipers and perforated discs. 17-inch wheels are standard on the S. The cab comes standard with a 3-spoke steering wheel, white face gauges with the speedometer readings rise to 300 km/h ?.

Porsche 986 Boxster engine

With more than 250 horsepower (185 kW), the 3,179 cm3 boxer takes the S to a new level and the acceleration of 0-100 km/h takes less than 6 seconds. The Boxster 986 S’s manual gearbox is a new 6-speed instead of the 5-speed in 2.7 base version, but the Tiptronic is the same 5-speed, although the type designation is different.

Both Boxster 2.7 and Boxster S 3.2 are Y-series for the 2000 model year. The models remained quite similar for 2001 (1-series) and 2002 (2-series).

The 2001 model year’s options list includes the PSM – Porsche Stability Management system (M476). Another interesting, albeit apparently rare, option is the Sports Exhaust System (XLF), which allows the driver to adjust the exhaust sounds.

Porsche 986 Boxster S 3.2 Facelift (2002-2004)

Porsche Boxster S 3.2 Facelift front

The Porsche Boxster 986 history had lasted for six years and it was time for a facelift while waiting for the successor 987. The front and rear bumpers are redesigned in both the 986 Porsche Boxster S 3.2 Facelift and Boxster 2.7 Facelift models, with more emphasis on the air intakes and exhaust pipe. The Porsche 986 Boxster S 3.2 Facelift retains the double exhaust pipes and thus differs from the oval pipe of the Boxster 2.7. Bright headlights are standard on both models. At the same time, the amber tone of the side and rear indicator lens has been abandoned. The convertible top is reshaped and the rear window has been replaced by the glass instead of previous plastic.

Porsche 986 Boxster S 3.2 Facelift interior

The dashboard buttons have been slightly redesigned and both facelift models have a locked glove box. The front and rear boot lids are opened electromagnetically in both models. Naturally, the Boxster S 3.2 Facelift engine received a new type designation and a small update. The engine produces now 260 horsepower (191 kW) although the volume of the engine remains the same. The type designations remained the same in the transmission. The Aerokit II with a 996-shaped front skirt, side skirts and a reshaped rear spoiler came to the options list. There are no greater differences between model year 2003 (3-series) and 2004 (4-series).

At the same time, also Porsche Boxster 2.7 Facelift (2002-2004)

Porsche Boxster 2.7 Facelift rear

The Porsche Boxster 2.7 Facelift was made at the same time with its big brother, although the more powerful model obviously came on the market a couple of months earlier. The improvements were the same in both models and the previous differences were still valid, with the exception of the 3-spoke steering wheel, which is now also standard in Boxster 2.7. The Porsche 986 Boxster 2.7 Facelift has two air intakes in the front, one oval exhaust at the rear, an instrument cluster with blackface gauges and a 250 km/h speedometer as standard. The Boxster 2.7 Facelift engine is also slightly tuned to 228 horsepower (168 kW) with the cubic volume remaining the same but with the type designation rising with a digit. The series of model years are the same for both models.

Porsche Boxster S 550 Spyder 50th Anniversary Edition (2004)

Porsche Boxster S 550 Spyder 50th Anniversary Edition

For the last model year, Porsche decided to release a limited special model of Boxster, and only 1,953 of these cars were made in honor of the original Porsche 550 Spyder, launched in 1953. The Porsche Boxster S 550 50th Anniversary Edition uses the Boxster S 3.2’s slightly tuned powerhouse. It has 266 horsepower (196 kW), which makes the Boxster Anniversary Edition the most powerful model of the 986. The color of the special model is the Porsche Carrera GT’s GT Silver Metallic. Unlike other models, the color of the top is dark brown Cocoa. The model is also distinguished by a special double exhaust pipe where pipes overlap. In the picture, there is a Porsche 986 Boxster S 550 US model with plate bumperettes, side amber and rear red turn signals.

The last 986 were manufactured in August 2004 and the Porsche Boxster 986 history ended. Some cars remained at dealers and have been sold as 2005 models. For Finland, the car was a success. The production of the Boxster 986 was 164,874, of which 108,772, or nearly 70% were made in Finland ??! Good Finland ?!!

Porsche Boxster 986 black logo

Porsche Boxster 986 history in a nutshell

Model yearsModel10th digit of the VINEstimate the 1st reg.Engine dataMost important changes and differences
1997–1999Boxster 2.5T* V W X8 / 19962,480 cm3, 150 kW / 204 hp1998: 18-inch rims and Aerokit became optional
1999: bright Xenon lights and Speedster cover became optional
2000–2002Boxster 2.7Y 1 29 / 19992 687 cm3, 162 kW / 220 hpSide airbags became standard and the fuel tank became larger
Alcantara trim became optional
2001: PSM – Porsche Stability Management became optional
Boxster S 3.2Y 1 211 / 19993 179 cm3, 185 kW / 252 hpBoxster S also has a third air inlet in the front spoiler, double exhaust pipe, more powerful brakes, manual 6-speed transmission, white face gauges and 17-inch rims as standard
2003-2004Boxster S 3.2 Facelift3 48 / 20023 179 cm3, 191 kW / 260 hpFacelift for both models: front and rear bumpers reshaped, bright headlights, hood reshaped, glass rear window, dashboard buttons reshaped, locked glove box and electromagnetic boot lids opening.
Redesigned Aerokit II became optional
Boxster 2.7 Facelift3 410 / 20022,687 cm3, 168 kW / 228 hp3-spoke steering wheel as standard
550 Spyder 50th
Anniversary Edition
43 / 20043 179 cm3, 196 kW / 266 hpDouble exhaust tubes overlay, special color GT Silver Metallic and hood dark brown Cocoa
* pre-series 1996

See the Porsche Boxster 986 Specs here

Porsche Boxster 986 history

Thank you for reading the Porsche Boxster 986 history all the way down here. If you noticed any errors or flaws, please, leave a comment and get the Porsche Boxster 986 history tuned in its best. And sure, if this was useful to you, then post a comment! It adds the motivation of 986porsche a lot ?! You can find the source material used in this blog from my post Porsche Boxster 986 Literature. And photo credits are in Porsche Boxster 986 Photos. Boxster’s detailed technical facts can be found in my post Porsche Boxster 986 Specs. From my post of Porsche Boxster 986 Colors you can see all the 37 colors that Boxster is made with. And if you think your friends would like to read this post, thank you if you’ll share the post with your friends ?

More 986porsche reading:

Which version of Porsche Boxster 986 do you choose?

Do you prefer a manual or a Tiptronic? Does performance or equipment determine your choice? Have you had a personal experience with 986 Boxster? If so, share your valuable information with others! I’m also interested to know which version would you choose?

9 thoughts on “Porsche Boxster 986 History (1996-2004)”

  1. Thanks for this. It helped me research the history of my Boxster by reading the VIN number. Mine is a 1 (2001) pre face-lift 2.7 built in Stuttgart. Registered in England in January 2001.

  2. Thank you Rolf for your kind words ?! It is true, the 986 is little secret. You get a real head-turner at a good price. Congratulations on your new Boxster! I am sure you will enjoy your time with her ?!

  3. Rolf Gramford

    Thank you for your comprehensive and insightfull writing! A great source for myself as a new 986 owner, to read up on and gain knowledge on this great (and a bit underappreciated) car. I simply love mine, and plan to use and maintain it for a lot of years to come. Pure joy! Keep up the good work!

  4. Good comment Ron! I totally agree with you. Although I haven’t had the privilege of getting to drive 356, I appreciate the Boxster’s handling characteristics and nothing is more fun than driving it on a winding mountain road while the sun is shining (from behind) ?

  5. Having had a 2.5 Boxster for nearly 2 years I am most impressed. It is more fun and handles better than any of my 911 cars though this may be more an indication of my abilities than anything else. I’m some ways the box reminds me of my old Sprites though much more refined. I love the reliability , tight cockpit and styling. I’ve wished for years that Porsche would produce a car in the vein of the 356 speedsters I’ve owned and loved. I just wish I’d have avoided my 3.2 Carrera and made the move sooner. At these prices I’ll probably add to my collection. The hardtop allows year round use without the expensive problem of wet floors/electronics or having to buy a Cayman.

  6. Thanks Tom! Your comment gives power to write more posts ?! Congratulations on your purchase of 986! She is really blast to drive and the Speed Yellow color is superb ?!

  7. Tom Tatalovich

    I enjoyed your concise but very informative post and look forward to reading your other posts. We purchased a 2002 Speed Yellow 2.7 manual transaxle this past June and have had fun getting to know her. Thanks!

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