James’s Porsche Boxster S ‘986 facelift’ (2003)


In the mid 90’s, after years of extreme financial difficulty, Porsche were on a mission to reinvent themselves. Part of that plan involved releasing their first ‘purpose-built’ roadster since the infamous 550 Spyder (thanks mostly to a certain James Dean).

The first generation Boxster (or 986 as it is less excitingly known) was a huge hit for Porsche and until the Cayenne stole its thunder, was their best selling car by a long margin. Despite the fact some 911 die-hards turn their nose up at the Boxster, its mere existence is a large part of what has enabled Porsche to do such incredible things with the 911 over the past 20 years.

The Owner: James, Age 36, Lives in Bolton, UK
The Owner: James, Age 36, Lives in Bolton, UK

Check out James’s instagram for more pictures.

The 986 Boxster (like most Porsches) was released over two phases. The pre-facelift car was available originally with a 2.5 litre flat-six which, with just 200bhp, admittedly lacked the power to justify the badge. Thankfully this was soon upgraded to a more torquey 2.7 litre engine on base models, and a 250bhp 3.2 litre lump for the Boxster S.

In 2003 the facelift model arrived with some much needed aesthetic upgrades (the previous design had dated very quickly). Amber turn signals were replaced with clear ones, the bumpers were re-sculpted giving the car a more muscular, purposeful appearance, and the plastic rear screen, which had always let the car down, was replaced with glass.

By 2006, ten years after the first one rolled off the production line, Porsche had sold no less than 200,000 Boxsters. This was a real testament to the success of a car that, considering Porsche’s financial circumstances at the time… HAD to succeed.

We’ve often argued that the first generation Boxster is a car crying out to be modified. The shape itself has all the right ingredients, but in standard form, is just let down by looking a bit, well… 90’s! James clearly gets this. He’s recognised that with the Boxster, there is a really classic shape, and a thoroughly capable car. A set of nice wheels, a touch of lowering… and you get something that looks like this! Hats off to you James.

Porsche Boxster S ‘986 facelift’ (2003)

Underneath that soft 90's exterior is a really classic shape in the Boxster. This car goes to show how by lowering it and sitting it on a set of split rims the true beauty of Porsche's mid-engined roadster can be realised!
Model Year 2003
Model Boxster S (986.2)
Make Porsche
Keywords classic german, German, Lowered, Modified, Porsche


  • Aftermarket carbon shrouded intake & full exhaust including manifolds, cat pipes with straight through silencers, X-pipe and 4 inch bevelled tips.
  • New Brembo discs, pads and callipers refurbished in acid green.
  • Adjustable coilovers from design 911.
  • RH Edition L split rims. 9×18 front, and 10.5×18 rears with 225/40, and 265/35 Michelin PS4’s.
  • A-pillars, steering column shroud, centre storage lid, door bin covers, gauge top, and centre console trimmed in black suede. Carbon trimmed dial surround and door handle caps, and a Rennline stainless steel warning light surround.

Interview with the owner

  • Finally, a modified Boxster! These cars are crying out for this sort of treatment. When did you get the car James?
    In May 2019.
  • And what made you go for a Boxster?
    Having been a car nut pretty much since birth and being obsessed with Porsches for as long as I can remember, I finally bought my first one in 2014, which was a lapis blue, 2.7 986 Boxster.
    I quickly learned that they were right when they said "there’s no such thing as a cheap Porsche" when the engine grenaded due to a broken cam chain tensioner 3 months after purchase.
    I replaced the engine with a used one from a local well known Porsche breakers, and then spent the next 5 years of ownership going through the car replacing various parts as they perished or broke whilst adding a few mods to make it my own. Until one day leaving work it decided to burst into flames on the motorway due to some kind of electrical fault in the front.
    I adored that car so when it came to looking for a replacement in budget, there really wasn’t anything else that could have replaced it…. other than another Boxster.
    Trawling through Autotrader, Pistonheads etc I came across this one on the other side of the country that looked unlike any other I’d ever seen. So I got the train down to London to fully inspect the car, bought it there and then, and drove it 4 hours home that day.
    The car is a 2003, 986.2 Boxster S manual in Meridian silver which I’ve owned for just over 2 years now. It was fitted from factory with every conceivable option available at the time including the rare GT3 look Aerokit version 2, crested sports seats, BBS wheels, PCM satnav/ stereo etc.
  • So what's it like to drive?
    Awesome. It’s low, loud, and adds a sense of occasion to every journey.
    To the dismay of my neighbours, I’ve always liked loud cars so days after getting it home I had it booked in for a full custom exhaust system as it annoyed me how quiet it was after the sound my old one made.
  • And you use this car a lot right?
    I use the car daily doing around 20k miles a year as it makes an otherwise boring journey fun, and I do drive it rather hard (whenever the opportunity presents itself) and it does kiss its redline at least once a day. I’m also a member of my regional branch of Tipec Porsche club and try to get out on as many organised drives and events as I can.
    I'm not really a fan of many cars made after 2010, they may be fast and efficient etc but feel boring to drive in comparison to their older counterparts at anything other than prison speeds imo.
    I’m currently working towards a manual 997 turbo to sit alongside the 986. I’m hoping to get one before people realise how under valued they are and the prices inevitably rise like pretty much any Porsche sports car these days, which I do plan on turning into a big power, caged out, fire spitting monster.
  • Has the car been restored / rebuilt?
    Yes, partly.
    Again, like the old car I’ve spent a fair bit of money putting various bits right inc a full suspension overhaul, new brakes, water pump, alternator, battery, coils, plugs & a few other bits, all done by the legends at Unique Porsche specialists in Bolton.
  • Ok, modifications… let's start with the engine, what have you done there?
    Aftermarket carbon shrouded intake and full exhaust including manifolds, cat pipes with straight through silencers, X-pipe and 4 inch bevelled tips.
    It really does sound very much like a Porsche race car and it is impossible to enter a tunnel without dropping the window, downshifting, and giving it the beans.
  • What power is it running now then?
    280bhp (approx). I've got a remap and dyno coming soon.
  • What have you done to the brakes?
    New Brembo discs & pads and callipers refurbished in acid green.
  • What have you done to the suspension?
    Adjustable coilovers from Design 911.
  • What have you done with the wheels & tyres?
    As a surviver of the max power era of the early 2000’s of course I had to add a few mods to make it my own. Which include the (in my opinion) gorgeous, and period correct RH edition L split rim wheels, which were a lucky gumtree find around 6 years ago
    RH Edition L split rims. 9×18 fronts, and 10.5×18 rears with 225/40, and 265/35 Michelin PS4’s.
  • What have you done with the interior?
    A-pillars, steering column casing, centre storage lid, door bin covers, gauge top, and centre console side trimmed in black suede. Carbon trimmed dial surround, and door handle caps, and a Rennline stainless steel warning light surround.
  • Do you plan to do any further modifications to it?
    Yes! There are a few more mods planned including getting the wheel centres repainted Bronze similar to the original Boxster concept car.
    A smaller Momo steering wheel, CAE gear shifter, and speedster humps.
    I also plan to address some of the paintwork like repainting the front bumper (and to remove the scratch someone kindly left above the right rear wheel) before finally having a Hartech 3.9 engine rebuild.
    I’m too far down the financial rabbit hole to ever justify selling it, so it’s defo a keeper. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely mine.
  • Do you own any other interesting cars?
    Yes, a 1993 Mercedes SL320 (currently a restoration project having sat in my Dad's garage for the last 17 years). The aim is to make it an SL60 AMG replica.
  • Ok final question – ignoring cost, and assuming you couldn’t go and sell it for profit… what’s your dream car and why?
    Porsche 993 GT2. Basically a 90’s Le Mans race-car for the road. Ever since first seeing it on the pages of EVO as a teenager, I just thought it was one of the most aggressive yet stunning cars ever, and I still do.
    A Carrera GT comes a close 2nd, because… that V10 howl.
Owner: James
Model: Boxster S (986.2)
Make: Porsche
Keywords: classic german, German, Lowered, Modified, Porsche

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