THE USUAL SUS­PECTS

Stay with the Porsche you know? Or take your chances with the dev­ilry that is buy­ing an older model? As Jeremy Laird weighs up whether to keep his Cay­man or chop it in for a 986 Boxster, he also pon­ders whether the sim­ple de­sire for change is what un­derli

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

Jeremy Laird has his say

STICK OR TWIST?

After nearly four years and some 65,000 miles, I’ve had a good crack with the Croc. In many ways, it’s been the best car I’ve owned. I’ve driven it far fur­ther and far harder than any other car. It’s also been the worst. The Croc has suf­fered from more me­chan­i­cal faults than any pre­vi­ous steed, in­clud­ing to­tal en­gine fail­ure. Ei­ther way, my in­ter­net browser his­tory of late tells a par­tic­u­lar tale. It’s lit­tered with ads for 986 Boxsters. I’m ob­sessed.

Ques­tion is, would I ac­tu­ally pre­fer a 986 Boxster? Or is it re­ally just some­thing dif­fer­ent – any­thing dif­fer­ent – that I’m after? This is surely a ques­tion that’s crossed the mind of many a Porscheholic. After all, there’s a fair amount of risk that comes with buy­ing any sec­ond­hand car. But that’s es­pe­cially true of Porsches. No amount of due dili­gence can guar­an­tee avoid­ance of a lemon. Wouldn’t it be rum to jump out of a fully func­tional, known quan­tity of a 987 Cay­man and into a bas­ket case Boxster, ba­si­cally out of bore­dom?

In­deed, many would ques­tion the san­ity of such a move, re­gard­less of the risk fac­tor. Surely a 987 Croc is un­am­bigu­ously su­pe­rior to a 986 Box? I’m not so sure. For me 986 en­gines sound a lot sweeter. The whole car is a lit­tle more hon­est and au­then­tic, its styling sim­pler and cleaner. Hell, I even pre­fer the more com­pact cabin am­bi­ence of the 986. I know, I know. Bonkers.

Of course, I’m not so bonkers that I don’t no­tice the bendi­ness of the 986 Boxster’s chas­sis. They’re se­ri­ously sheddy by mod­ern stan­dards, in that re­gard. Or how short it is on out­right puff (even in 3.2-litre con­fig­u­ra­tion) or han­dling pre­ci­sion. But then, no­body seems to mind pay­ing six fig­ures for old 911s with even less per­for­mance and steer­ing firm­ness to ri­val an over-ripe av­o­cado. Which isn‘t to crit­i­cise old 911s. They’re lovely. But like the 986, you don’t buy them for tech­ni­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity. You de­sire them for the way they make you feel when you look at them or drive them.

More to the point, the 986 re­mains crim­i­nally un­der­val­ued, which means I could very likely swap out of my high mile 987 into a pris­tine low mile 986 at es­sen­tially no cost. I might even end up with a bit of petrol money left over. But what I re­ally want to do is avoid re­gret­ting the trans­ac­tion. Flog­ging the Croc and then dis­cov­er­ing I’d made a mis­take could be costly, es­pe­cially since I’d prob­a­bly de­cline to re­turn to a 3.4-litre gen 1 987 due to en­gine re­li­a­bil­ity con­cerns. And I don’t fancy pay­ing an ex­tra £10k on top for the gen 2 model.

On the other hand, I’d also like to avoid wak­ing up one day, de­cid­ing it is a 986 Boxster I want after all and find­ing they’ve quin­tu­pled in value in the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod. Not likely you say? Per­haps, but then did you or any­one else re­ally fore­see that peo­ple would be pay­ing £50,000 for rusty old 964s or £100,000 to have a 911T fully re­stored?

One fairly ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion would be to buy a 986 and keep the Croc along­side for a while. 986s are cheap enough that this is fairly fea­si­ble in terms of pur­chase price. The prob­lem is dou­bling up on in­surance, road tax and other main­te­nance costs, not to men­tion the fact that I only have a sin­gle garage slot. Run­ning two Porsches would be an ex­pen­sive en­deav­our. I’m not up for that. Or leav­ing one out­side, for that mat­ter.

What’s re­ally vex­ing is that I pre­vi­ously owned a 986 Boxster and have driven plenty of ex­am­ples. So, I’m very fa­mil­iar with both op­tions. But I still don’t know what to do. Is it sim­ply change I’m after? Or do I re­ally pre­fer 986 Boxsters? At which point you’re prob­a­bly think­ing, get over your­self and your first world prob­lem in­volv­ing Porsches. En­tirely fair, but un­for­tu­nately no help at all on a Sun­day evening when a par­tic­u­larly clean and un­mo­lested 986 pops up on Au­to­trader.

Hav­ing said all that, it’s prob­a­bly only find­ing the right ex­am­ple and my gen­eral fear of the un­known with any sec­ond­hand car that’s pre­vent­ing me from making the swap. If there was a per­fect 986 3.2S in the right spec sit­ting out­side right now, I’d let the Croc go. I’m cer­tain of that. So it will prob­a­bly hap­pen if I can find the right car. I’m just not sure if I’ll live to re­gret it.

A 987 Cay­man for a 986 Boxster? It might seem like a back­wards step, but

911&PW’S news hound, Jeremy Laird, is ob­sess­ing about the 986’s plus points, but ul­ti­mately is it just change for change’s sake? Ex­pect to see a Boxster 986 in the ‘Projects’ pages very soon...

JEREMYLAIRD 911&PW’S news hound and­porschep­hile

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