Porsche Boxster – 1996

If looks could kill, everyone who glanced at the Porsche Boxster would be struck dead, for this is one handsome roadster. Designer Harm Lagaay was helped by the fact that he was able create a stunning soft-top from scratch as the company’s first ‘clean sheet’ design since the Porsche 928 back in the 1970s. (Previous Porsche convertibles were, effectively, topless coupes.)

The mid-engined Boxster burst onto the sports-car scene in 1996, powered by a water-cooled Porsche 2.5 litre flat six that came with manual or automatic transmission. It may have been a cut-price alternative to the enduring 911, but there was no skimping on build quality, technical innovation or performance. This was bold, as Porsche had been experiencing hard times in the early 1990s and was strapped for cash.

With the help of a massive internal reorganization at Zuffenhausen, the gamble paid off. Despite accusations that the Boxster was no more than a knee-jerk reaction to the success of retro sports cars like the BMW Z3 or Mercedes SLK, the Boxster was technically more interesting, came with a very affordable price tag for all that automobile and — best of all — had a Porsche badge on the front. The motoring press and performance-buying public loved it and this stylish two-seater became the company’s best-ever seller until the Cayenne SUV eventually overtook a long way down the road.

Supply could not keep up with demand and waiting lists proliferated, whilst a plethora of tempting extras ensured that few paid only the basic price. The next step was an enhanced base model (with a 2.7 litre engine) and the eagerly awaited 3.2 litre `S’ high-performance model in 1999. After various tweaks, the Boxster and Boxster S were completely reworked in 2005 to sustain a phenomenon that had already racked up 160,000 sales.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Germany (also built in Finland)

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1996

ENGINE:

2,480 cc, 2,687 CC or 3,179 cc Flat Six

PERFORMANCE:

With 2.5 l engine — top speed of 146 mph (235 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.7 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

The Boxster name was a composite formed from the ‘box’ in boxer (the horizontally opposed flat engine) and the ‘ster’ of roadster, as the Boxster was Porsche’s first stand-alone convertible.

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