I recently picked up a 1999 base model Boxster. When looking for a new car, most people look for the most horsepower, most options, and the most money they can afford. I wanted the opposite. Let me explain.
Several years back, I was lucky enough to have two Porsches in my garage. Yes, I know I have the best wife ever. I had a 2000 911 C2 and a 1988 944 Turbo. The two cars could not be more different. The 2000 911 was a naturally aspirated flat six with the engine in the rear. Stomping on the gas gave a smooth linear shove all the way up through the gears. It had all the “new car” goodies of heated seats, temperature controlled AC, power locks, 6-way adjustable power seats, leather everywhere, 6-speed, and more. The 1988 944T was a turbocharged inline four with the engine in the front. Stomping on the gas in it resulted in a slight hesitation, then BOOM: the horsepower kicked in and you were off. The 944 still had some old school to it. You had to actually unlock the car with the key as there was no key fob. If you were hot or cold, you had to manually adjust the temperature. The seats were manual and it had huge trunk via the rear hatch. The combination of plastics and leather always gave out a good German smell. It felt analog.
But the two cars did have one thing in common, horsepower. The 911 had 295hp from the factory and the 944T with a chip, intake, and exhaust was estimated by Dr. Karl Wilen to be an easy 300hp.
It was fun to go back and forth between the two and feel the difference in how they delivered roughly the same horsepower, but in two completely different ways. I had a wonderful pair of bookends.
All of this brings me to my current garage status. I have acquired a 2001 996TT. It has 3.6 liter twin turbocharged flat six in the back powering all 4-wheels through a 6-speed gearbox. It has leather everything, power everything, heated seats, a claimed factory top speed of 189 mph, plus a tuned and free flowing exhaust that burbles and howls. All in, it should have horsepower pushing up to 450 and enough torque to spin the earth. It is a stomp on it and hang on kind of a ride.
The 996 Turbo is an awesome car, but I wanted my bookends driving experience again.
Enter the 1999 Boxster. It sits with a normally aspirated 2.5 liter mid-engine setup politely pushing out 201 hp through a 5-speed gearbox. What it does not have in horsepower, it makes up for in handling. It’s mid-engine is perfectly balanced giving lots of confidence in the corners. With the top down and wind in your hair, you can even hear the exhaust give a polite “whAAaaahhh” as you pass from 4,000 to 5,000 RPM. It is a fun, “let’s go get ice cream” ride.
So I have my bookend driving experiences again. The two cars could not be any more different, yet be so fun to drive. Both have the opposite characteristics I was looking for. One is a sledgehammer while the other is a scalpel. I am very happy with my garage options, for now. After all, my cars may change, but I still have the best wife ever.
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